Drink Magazine

The Ethics of a SodaStream Purchase

By Realizingresonance @RealizResonance


Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.


I think everyone who loves to drink soda pop should go out and purchase a new SodaStream. I don’t normally use my philosophy blog to recommend commercial products (other than books I have cited), but I feel particularly proud of my recent SodaStream purchase, and want to advertise it. Most of the reason for my excitement is that my wife Mary and I have really enjoyed creating our own soda syrups and used this wonderful kitchen innovation to carbonate the water for delicious homemade soda. However, there are some ethical considerations that both lend support to my recommendation or could make it controversial. The SodaStream is a greener product than prepackaged soda, and it can be a healthier alternative as well. However, there are some counterarguments to these claims, from socially conscious activists, who point out that the main SodaStream factory is far from green because it exploits disputed Palestinian lands. I must reconcile these ethical considerations against my personal satisfaction with the product.

Using a SodaStream has less environmental impact than buying cases of brand name soda from the grocery store. Once you have purchased a home made soda maker the only additional purchases that you need to make are CO2 cartridge refills, pre-made syrups, or raw ingredients for homemade syrups. This has reduced that part of my carbon footprint represented by the shipment of prepackaged cans and bottles of soda from the likes of Coke and Pepsi. Also, I am saving on refrigerator space, and by no longer throwing away so many cans and bottles I am cutting down dramatically on recycling waste. Also, SodaStream has locations where you can take your old CO2 cartridges so that they can be refilled for future resale. The only waste is the plastic bottles that contain the syrups, but this is a fair reduction in environmental impact compared to the same amount of brand name soda consumption.

SodaStream is owned by an Israeli company. The main production facility is located in an Israeli settlement that called Mishor Adumin, an occupation of land that is disputed by the Palestinians. This has caused a boycott movement and flash mobs from socially conscious consumers in the US and other Western nations. The company has maintained that it is a force for good and employs 160 Palestinian workers, who benefit from the success of the company. Boycotts might be counterproductive because they can harm Palestinian workers who desire these jobs. I recognize that this is a sensitive issue that I am not completely informed on, but as of yet I have not felt compelled to join the boycott. If the Palestinian workers have themselves not demanded a boycott, or gone on strike, who am I to presume that they are being exploited by an occupying force rather than employed by just another global corporation, comparable to Coke and Pepsi in this regard. My ethical reasoning on this point might be controversial, admittedly needs more examination, and I certainly tentative about it myself. The socially conscious reader should consider reading the arguments in favor of the boycott before blindly following my recommendations here.

Without going into any of the macroeconomic or environmental implications of unhealthy living, personal health can be improved by using the SodaStream. The SodaStream syrups use a combination of natural sugar and Splenda, a popular brand of sugar substitute used in diet drinks, which reduces the amount of calories and carbohydrates in each glass of soda, even for the non-diet flavors. Perhaps the idea of partially diet soda is not what you are interested in. If you are feeling adventurous enough you can buy locally produced ingredients and make your own soda syrups from scratch, leaving out the preservatives, colorings, and artificial flavors, and directly controlling the sugar content.

Mary and I have spent the last few weekends devising our own recipes for cream soda, ginger ale, and orange soda, which we have brewed from scratch using all natural ingredients. The orange soda was a decided flop, but the cream soda and ginger ale were very tasty and refreshing. This afternoon I am going to make my third pass at an ultimate cream soda recipe, with some modifications aimed at perfecting it to my own personal tastes. Once I have mastered my recipe I will post it in a future article. Making your own syrups not only allows you to use natural ingredients, it is a great way to spend an afternoon with family or friends, and makes having sugary soda more of a special occasion than a bad health habit.

I am recommending purchase of a SodaStream because I think it is an ethical choice. To me a personal ethic is about finding a way to live the good life, without reducing the ability of others to live the good life too. I can’t help but dream about a soda fountain utopia in which my family and friends brew homemade syrups, exchanging them and giving them as gifts. The environmental and health concerns have positive ethical implications, while the geopolitical concerns regarding Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands have more questionable ethical implications. On net, I feel good about my purchase and the ethics behind it. And whether you agree with me or not about SodaStream, I hope it makes you consider the ethical repercussions of your next consumption decision. I believe it’s a worthwhile exercise.

Jared Roy Endicott

SodaStream website


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