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Making your beverages eco-friendly

eco-friendly drinksWe've written many times about using reusable bottles and cups instead of single-use, but what about the stuff in it?  How do we make our drinking habits a little bit greener?  From water to beer to juice, there are ways to be a little greener when keeping yourself hydrated.

Water

In most parts of North America, the tap water is perfectly drinkable.  If you enjoy filtered water, you can buy a Brita-like filter or one that connects to your faucet.  If your tap water isn't safe or is otherwise undrinkable, there are options such as an under-the-sink filter.  

Juice and Lemonade

When you can, make your own!  You can squeeze your own oranges for some OJ, or lemons or limes for lemonade and limeade.  Yum!  You can also buy juicers, most of which are less than $100.  If cider's your thing and you're a DIY kinda person, Mother Nature News has instructions on how to make your very own cider press. (Perfect for fall!)

When I'm buying juice at the store, I like to buy ones that come in glass instead of plastic or cartons.  Some brands (Santa Cruz Organic and some of Whole Foods Market's 365 brand juices come to mind) are in glass.

Seltzer and Soda

Again, make your own!  The SodaStream is very popular and available all over the place these days.    I've also heard good  things about the Twist and Sparkle, and you can use it to carbonate juice or iced tea. 

I recently came across this recipe for making your own cola, which sounds fantastic.  

Tea

Look for looseleaf tea instead of bagged tea.  It will cut down on unnecessary waste.  If looseleaf is too much of a hassle (if you're at work, for instance) opt for brands that don't have the teabags pre-wrapped and don't come with strings and a tag.  Celestial Seasonings is an example, and their tea bags are unbleached, too.   Love that Morning Thunder!  

For iced tea, I know it's easy to just grab the premade stuff or the powder mix, but it's really just as easy to make your own!   I love making my own iced tea.  I experiment with different flavor combinations.  My most recent invention was berry black tea mixed with pear ginger white tea.  It was heavenly.  You can control how much sweetener you want (if any -- I an unsweetened tea kinda gal) and make it as strong as you like.

When you're done making your tea, don't forget to compost the leaves and/or teabags!

Coffee

Last year I wrote A Greener Cup of Joe, making suggestions on how to green your daily java.  Make your Starbucks run an occasional treat and make as much coffee at home as you can.  If you're a fan of frappucinos and the like, check out some recipes to make them at home.  

When making your coffee, look for reusable coffee filters.  And just say "NO!" to the Keurig coffee makers.  Those little cups are just so wasteful!  

When you're done, give those coffee grinds a second life.  There are lots of ways you can reuse coffee grinds!  You can repel cats, get the stink out of a kitchen drain, and fertilize your plants.  If none of that interests you, compost away!

Alcoholic Beverages

I'm not so great in the kitchen, but my husband is a fantastic homebrewer.   It's definitely a super eco-friendly option, especially if you grow some of your own ingredients.  We grow our own hops in our yard.  It cuts down on transit for the ingredients.  Another perk?  You can reuse bottles for years and years.  

Lots of people make their own wine, too, and there are lots of options for eco-friendly wine.  

Buying local beer and wine is a good way to cut down on your carbon footprint.  The Brewer's Association National Directory has lots of options on where to buy locally made beer.   It's almost always better than the mass-produced stuff, anyway!  

New Hope 360 has a few brands of organic alcohol that they recommend.   I'm intrigued by the "Ayala’s Herbal Water."  Hmmm...