Sometimes this organic mom wants to gift her own not-entirely-organic mother a present. I try to make the gifts meaningful, but I'd be lying if I said I don't also aim for something with an underlying green theme. Nothing over the top or in her face, just something she'll enjoy but also notice is eco-friendly, even though that isn't the main point of the present.
For her recent birthday, I had a jackpot win-win idea: a seltzer maker. I can't believe I didn't think of it before. My mom loves, loves, loves seltzer. She lives for it, drinks it constantly. Not only would having her own seltzer maker save her money, but it would also keep her from being involved with the transportation of bottles of water and help her save untold numbers of unreusable plastic bottles. Yes, she recycles. But recycling plastic #1 bottles doesn't mean everything in those bottles actually gets reused, and breaking them down is an intensive, complicated process. I personally avoid plastic whenever I can. Unfortunately, store bought seltzer in glass bottles is a lot more expensive than what comes in plastic. The home seltzer makers with glass carafes are also more expensive than plastic, but if you do the math for how much it saves over buying bottles for a year, it seems doable.
But what seltzer maker to buy? All too often these sort of pricey gadgets don't actually work. I have a few friends who have them, so I turned to them for their preferences. I also did my own research. And I posted a query to my Facebook page - what's better than real word-of-mouth suggestions from other seltzer obsessives? My post: "Looking to buy a present for a seltzer addicted friend. Does anyone know of a home soda maker that actually works and is durable? Is the only one that comes with glass canisters $200 (not interested in plastic)? Other considerations? Thanks."
(Yes, I consider my mom a friend.)
Seven comments came in. The most creative was the following: "What about some water kefir grains, a couple of wide mouth mason jars, and a few glass bottles from a local brewery supply place?"
One friend suggested buying my mom a year of seltzer delivery service. Though there used to be seltzer delivery in New York, where I live, as far as I can tell, this is no longer available. Besides, I wanted to move my mom away from being involved with the transportation of water, even though the bottles would get reused. Though one seltzer devote claims no home seltzer makers work, other friends mentioned varying degrees of success with a whole host of soda siphons. More than a few cast their votes for SodaStream's Penguin ($200 at amazon.com), a seltzer maker that comes with pretty glass bottles ($16 at amazon.com). No batteries or electric plugs needed. Just a refillable CO2 cylinder.
I had been leaning towards the Penguin based on my own research and have now had the opportunity to test one. Several weeks in, it's amazing. I can't speak to whether the thing will stand a lengthier test of time, but so far so great. The bubbles can be intense or light, whichever you prefer, and the caps do a good job of sealing the bubbles in the cute glass bottles. The contraption itself is also cute (though big - if you have a small kitchen like I do it can dwarf the place) and very easy to operate.
In fact, I only have one complaint and it has nothing to do with the bubbles it makes. I only use it and want to use it for seltzer, but SodaStream sells ample drink mixes so you can make your own soda (from orange to tonic water to cola). Unfortunately, they all seem to contain Splenda. For people who do like to drink soda, how about offering some mixes with organic ingredients and real (even Fair Trade Certified) sugar? It would match the eco-goodness of all of those bottles saved.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.