60-Second Earth

The Buzz on Beer and Soda Fizz

A look at the environmental burden of our favorite summer beverages. David Biello reports

Soda and beer. Other than exhaling, bubbly drinks are our closest experience with releasing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. So as you confront steamy summer, which cold beverage is best—from an environmental perspective?

Massive, oil-lubricated supply chains feed even local craft breweries. And the unintended consequences of the high fructose corn syrup in your soda range from obesity to a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

And then there are the containers. Aluminum is energy-intensive to mine, process and transform into cans—but the lightweight metal is also easily recycled. As are plastic soda bottles. So filling a washable, reusable cup with soda from a plastic container—and then recycling the big bottle—is the environmentally friendly thing to do.

Beer and soda also rely on water. And there's a lot more water in a drink than the drink, whether it's the water used to grow the grain that's fermented into beer or the cooling water required to produce the electricity that runs the soda bottling machines. Or you can cut out the middleman and just drink water. From the bottle-free tap.

—David Biello

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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