Summertime comes and the kids clamor for plastic bottles of Gatorade, Powerade, Koolade — all laced with chemical additives, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), dyes and other unpronounceable stuff. Plus these drinks get expensive when added weekly to the grocery cart. And they generate a fair amount of plastic waste that may or may not get recycled.
This eco-warrior heads into summer knowing her kids’ proclivity for sweet drinks and she serves up their favorites in a more healthy way. Enviro Girl makes summer drinks from scratch. Her kids still get a dose of sugar, but the sweet stuff is natural and Enviro Girl can manage the quantity when she brews the pitcher of refreshments.
To kick the bottled drinks habit, you have to be willing to plan ahead. Enviro Girl has a couple of heavy-duty Tupperware pitchers and sets of glasses. When mid-afternoon arrives and her crew gets thirsty, she grabs a set of glasses and a pitcher of home-brewed thirst-quencher from her fridge and heads outside to meet them. It’s as easy to grab a pitcher and cup as it is to grab a plastic bottle, although you could pre-fill water bottles with other drinks and keep washing them by hand. Enviro Girl likes cups because they can go in the dishwasher.
Check out the label on any lemonade — powdered or concentrate — it’s loaded with HFCS. But making lemonade from scratch is simple: lemons, water, sweetener. Enviro Girl uses fresh lemons on occasion or lemon juice concentrate — 4 lemons, 5 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar or honey. Stir and pour over ice. Cheaper than the manufactured version and healthier. Get a little crazy and add crushed berries and you can rival McDonald’s with a raspberry-lemonade or strawberry-lemonade.
Iced tea is notoriously full of HFCS — check out the cans, bottles and powdered stuff at your grocery store. They’re no healthier than a can of Coke, don’t fool yourself. Making iced tea at home is cheaper and easy — add boiling water to a glass pitcher and dunk 7-8 teabags. Enviro Girl uses fruity herbal tea bags like Raspberry Zinger and Peach to duplicate popular “flavored” iced teas. Add sweetener (honey or sugar) to taste. Toss in lemon slices if you’re inclined. Let it brew 5 minutes and pour over ice or store in the fridge for when you’re thirsty. If you’re lazy (like Enviro Girl sometimes is), you can dunk 7-8 teabags in a pitcher of cold water and let the sun steep it for you. And you can kick it Southern-style by leaving that container of sweet tea on your counter in easy reach all the time.
Soda has fallen out of favor as the refreshing drink of choice, but Enviro Girl has found that mixing some fruit juice with seltzer water makes a sweet and bubbly beverage. To kick the Gator/Power/Kool Ade habit, keep a pitcher of water on ice infused with sliced fruit — oranges, lime, lemons, berries all make a flavorful and handy way to hydrate.
In fact, Enviro Girl plans to invest in one of these to keep her kids happy all summer at a fraction of the price and with none of the waste produced by store-bought drinks:
She can picture it on her kitchen counter or on the patio beside a stack of Tupperware cups, standing ready for thirsty kids and party guests! Less packaging waste, less plastic, less money, no chemicals, no additives, no HFCS, no food dye, more taste and more control over the ingredients — all great reasons to brew your own summer drinks!