Fizzled out: A tale of SodaStream woe

 In Stupid
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This post originally appeared in the Guernsey Press on Saturday, 29 September 2018

Just because I don’t live in Guernsey any more, it doesn’t mean I’m not keeping up with the hot Guernsey issues. I’ve been keeping my finger on the pulse of the island, and the biggest heartbeat I can hear right now is a lot of complaining about rubbish. No, literally.

I’ve been seeing A LOT of posts and tweets lately about the new bin collections. Having read about it myself I can’t really see what the issue is, but judging by some of the reactions online, I’m half expecting the island to look like some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland next time I come home. Luckily, all this talk about trash and being eco-friendly has come at a good time for me, because I’ve been having a green moment of my own.

On one hand, I’m becoming increasingly aware about my reliance on single-use plastics: I’ve switched to a reusable coffee cup with no problems. I’m using a refillable water bottle. I avoid straws, reuse my carriers, and I make sure my toothpaste doesn’t have stupid microbeads inside. I hope the plankton and sea turtles appreciate the sacrifices I have made for them.

On the other hand, now that I’m an adult and not living back home in Guernsey (i.e. without my parents), it has become far easier — and more tempting — to spend on frivolous accessories for the house. Having your own income and nobody to tell you what you should be spending it on is a liberating, dangerous thing.

This all culminated on the arrival of our SodaStream.

Yes, you did read that right, and yes, you did pick up a paper from 2018. SodaStreams, the DIY soda makers of the 1970s are BACK, baby, and the flatmates and I were collectively thrilled at the prospect of having a retro resurgence of our very own. What started out as a joke very quickly turned into an Amazon order, and after waiting about 2 weeks for the thing to arrive, we excitedly unpacked and cleared precious worktop space for our new carbonator.

Let me tell you: we’ve had this machine in the flat for just over a month now, and I’ve already felt the same burnout everyone in the 70s must have done. I’ve gone from loving the SodaStream, to feeling kind of indifferent about it, to flat-out just hating it. Let me tell you why:

1. It’s boring.

When the machine arrived, we carbonated everything. Water, wine, orange juice, milk — you name it, we tried it all, with varying, sometimes tasty results. Admittedly the hiss of the gas canister when you carbonated something was pretty satisfying, and for a brief second you felt like you were Johann Schweppe inventing soda water.

And then, as long as it takes for the drinks to get flat again, the fun is lost; the magic of home-carbonation is killed when you realise you’ve used this ridiculous, retro-futuristic, expensive contraption to make… fizzy water. I could almost feel my parents telling me “I told you so”—they did the same when I bought a Teasmade.

“Rethink your water experience”, the SodaStream website tells me. I don’t know about you, but I never think about my water ‘experience’ in the first place, let alone have the mental capacity to re-think it.

2. They’re not that eco-friendly

The SodaStream website parrots on about how environmentally friendly it is to carbonate your own drinks at home. Yes, you’re not buying individual bottles of pop from the supermarket, that much is true, but also stop to consider: the machine itself is made almost entirely out of mixed plastics, as are the included bottles, and so it looks like a pain to recycle when it reaches the end of its life cycle too.

Oh, and the gas canisters? Even in London, the most feasible and easy way for me to refill the spent gas canister is to… post it off to them! They’ll then post it back refilled in what they call a ‘gas exchange’.

So, me buying a 50p bottle of supermarket tonic is wasteful to the environment, but sending a metal tube backwards and forwards repeatedly in the post, only for them to fill it up with carbon dioxide and post it back to me is fine is it? What a fantastic use of the earth’s resources.

3. They’re expensive

Those refills I mentioned? £15. No matter where you go or where you get them, you’re unlikely to get much change from £20 for the privilege of more canned air. And here’s where I get even more ashamed and angry about it too: the price of the machine itself? About £60.

We’ve spend the better part of a hundred pounds on this wretched device, and all we got was some fizzy water. Let me tell you, you’d have to consume A LOT of soda per year to make this thing cost-effective. A gas refill apparently makes 60 litres, but I don’t crave sparkling water enough, now matter HOW fizzy I can make it, to justify these wild upfront costs.

“Oh, but you can make your own Prosecco!” the shop listing says. Yeah, that’s if you’re used to Prosecco tasting like white wine that you’ve put through a SodaStream.

4. There’s no reason for them to exist

There’s nothing the SodaStream can make that your local supermarket doesn’t already sell. It’s almost far cheaper, tastier, and even fizzier to spend your pennies on a few mixer cans — at least aluminium is easy to recycle too. And the ‘home’ aspect doesn’t add anything either… it’s not like cooking, where homemade stuff always tastes better; fizz is fizz, no matter how you bottle it. And for me, the SodaStream sadly falls flat.

Olly Browning is a freelance writer and designer based in London. Send your thoughts, complaints about bins, or any other business to olly@yourolly.com, or tweet him @yourolly.

Olly Browning
Olly Browning is a freelance writer and designer based in London, founder of the creative agency Mighty Oak. Send your thoughts, hate mail, commissions, or any other business to olly@yourolly.com, or tweet him @yourolly.
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