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Alternatives to Bottled Water & Soda

By Larraine Roulston :

A jaw dropping moment for me was hearing, “Buy Bottled Water.”What!! Why would anyone want to pay extra to drink water that has been stored in plastic? Clean drinking water is a human right with governments being held accountable to keep it that way. With very few exceptions, municipal tap water is tested regularly for safety, and adding your own filter system reassures it, whereas bottled water companies do their own testing.

Actually, it appears to be less about water and more about convenience. That small inconvenience of filling up a reusable plastic-free container has come at a hefty cost to our environment, though. There are several beverages that can be enjoyed from a stainless steel thermos, glass bottle or mason jar.

Tea: If it’s time-consuming to brew tea, just boil water for your thermos and pack a tea bag. By choosing to drink loose-leaf tea and using a metal sieve, you will probably save money as well as eliminate the waste of producing tea bags and their wrappings. To enjoy iced tea, float some loose tea leaves in water and let it sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before placing it overnight in the fridge. In then morning, strain the tea and fill your container.

Coffee: To brew a fresh cup of coffee, use a stainless steel French press. Glass French presses often break — not so much from accidents, but rather from the glass’s becoming weaker with constant use. A drip coffee maker has little waste, as the filter can be composted along with the grinds.

Hot Chocolate: Learning to make homemade hot chocolate was the first challenge in my grade 7 home economics class. Begin with a chocolate syrup made by placing 1/4 cup of cocoa and 1/2 cup water in a pot, then stirring over medium heat until the cocoa dissolves. To that, add 3/4 cup (or less) of granulated sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk until blended and bring to a boil. When cool, stir in 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract. At any time, spoonfuls of the syrup can be added to milk and heated for a beverage loved by all ages. The quicker (but not as nourishing) method is to purchase chocolate powder and add boiling water. Many venues require patrons to purchase beverages on site. That being the case, request that your mug or thermos be filled rather than waste a disposable cup.

Hot Grog: If you want a little extra warmth on a winter hike, try boiling water over an ounce of rum mixed with a spoonful of honey.

Smoothies: When deciding to fill your wide-neck thermos or jar with a hardy drink, your blender won’t let you down. By making veggie or fruit smoothies, you will find it’s a good way to use bits of food. A thick milkshake is another option.

Fermented Drinks: You may want to try your hand at creating fermented beverages. Once you have obtained a mother (symbiotic community of bacteria and yeasts), you can create ginger beer, a probiotic kombucha and beet kvass. Their recipes are detailed in the below links.

Whether off to work, school, an event, a picnic, or on a road trip — once you get into the habit of reuse, you will find it less painful than lugging home cases of bottled beverages, stopping at stores, or idling your car at a fast food drive-through.

The thermos, man’s greatest invention. It keeps cold things cold and hot things hot. How does it know the difference?

For more recipes and ideas what to drink instead of bottled water and soda check these out:

https://zerowastechef.com/2016/09/14/10-alternatives-to-bottled-water-and-soda/

http://www.bonappetit.com/drinks/non-alcoholic/article/how-to-cold-and-ice-brew-iced-tea

https://zerowastechef.com/2015/08/20/ginger-beer/

https://zerowastechef.com/2015/01/07/the-mother-of-all-ferments-kombucha/

https://zerowastechef.com/2014/06/26/beet-kvass/

Larraine authors a children’s book series on composting and pollination www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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