In Defense of Sodastream, If Not So Much Kool-Aid
So, Sodastream has partnered with Kool-Aid so that you can make fizzy sugar water at home. It already has agreements in place with Crystal Light and Country Time, so you can make sweet fizzy water and sugary fizzy water. It has for seemingly ages (well, news cycle ages) had its own flavorings to make sugary fizzy water, albeit, as the company's nutrition page illustrates, with far fewer calories than commercial drinks.
Does any of this really undermine the primary environmental benefit of its home carbonation machines, or send mixed messages as former TreeHugger alum Karin Kloosterman argues over at Green Prophet? I don't really think it does.
The main benefit of Sodastream's devices is simply waste reduction (if you're just making sparkling water it's also much less expensive, discounting the cost of the device). You no longer have to dispose of countless bottles of sparkling water, soda, tonic water (it's really easier to make than you think, trust me), what have you. The CO2 cartridges are refillable/replaceable, easily and not expensively if you're in a major metro area. You can use refillable glass bottles with them. As it is designed and marketed to do, it succeeds admirably.
When it comes down to it Sodastream isn't in the business of policing your drinking habits. Like Karin I don't think drinking Kool-Aid (or Country Time or Crystal Light) is really anything approaching healthy. And in the big picture, widespread drinking of such beverages is a piece of global obesity puzzle, which certainly has serious environmental, not to mention social, consequences.
Would it be better in an absolutist sense if Sodastream rejected partnership with major beverage companies? Sure. Without a doubt it would give them even more solid eco credentials if they took a stand against the liquid minions of Big Ag. That they have does give me a bit of a cringe.
But companies and products seldom if ever have ever eco check box marked off boldly and blackly. And at least for these specific circumstances, I really don't think it's a big deal at all.
Just don't drink the Kool-Aid.
Oh, and just because some people bought a Sodastream and then ended up not using it, that's hardly the fault of the company—rather it's the fault of the purchaser for not accurately assessing their needs.