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Bill, Please Re-think Your Drink!

By · Monday, December 14th, 2009


photo ©Nancie Battaglia

photo ©Nancie Battaglia

Bill McKibben is one of my heroes. He’s an author, educator and environmentalist who has done more than just about anyone I know to engage and inspire people to take a stand on climate change.   The world has tapped Bill for a big mission and he has stepped up beautifully. Thanks to Bill,   350.org has become a world wide phenomenon.  (If you don’t already know why 350 is the most important number on the planet, then click here to learn more.)

This guy is a powerful writer. After reading Deep Economy , my world view changed dramatically. His words hit me deep in my gut that we’ve got to change the way we’re doing things.  I’m currently reading The End of Nature (written back in 1998) as part of  a book group on Food & Capitalism.

Yesterday he wrote a very moving post, No Time for Tears in Copenhagen but the last paragraph caused me to see red.

So no more tears. Not now, not while there’s work to be done. Pass the Diet Coke, fire up the laptop, grab the cellphone. To work. We may not have done enough, but we’re going to do all we can.

Do you see the red I’m talking about? My green hero drinks Diet Coke. The Coca Cola corporation, known for it’s red containers filled with colored sugar water, has been working non stop lately to portray itself as a green company.  The products that this multinational corporation sells are not good for our health or the health of our planet.

Coke and Diet Coke negatively impact your health. Here are a few ways:

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been correlated with obesity, high triglyceride levels which in turn impact LDL cholesterol. HFCS also decreases your feelings of fullness, so you’re more likely to eat and drink more.

Phosphoric acid found in soda tends to leach calcium from bones which results in decreased bone density. It’s acidic pH also accelerates tooth decay.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener found in Diet Coke what has been linked to some significant health issues including migraine headache, ADHD, vertigo and even brain tumors. This chemical creates sweet cravings and many people have found it to be addictive.

In addition to being hazardous to your health, Coca Cola wrecks havoc on the environment, not just here in the US but around the world.  Mark Thomas’s book, Belching Out the Devil illustrates the real story behind Coca Cola. I highly recommend this book for further reading on Coca Colas misdeeds globally.

Let’s take a peek at the environmental impact of a few ingredients in a can of Coke

Corn grown for High Fructose Corn Syrup requires loads of  petrochemical derived fertilizer and pesticides. Nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 200 times more damaging than CO2, is liberated when those fertilizers are used.  Let’s not forget the dead zone resulting from fertilizer runoff in the Gulf of Mexico. Watch King Corn and Big River to learn more about this.

Aluminum cans require a huge amount of energy to create. While recycling is great and saves energy, less than one third of all aluminum cans come from recycled sources.

Water is 99% of Coca Cola’s product. This corporation has  gone all out to manufacture an image of itself as a global leader in water conservation. The water that goes into making soda comes from streams and aquifers. This water could be better used to irrigate sustainable agriculture or to hydrate thirsty people around the globe.  Also think for a minute about all that water that we are trucking  around in those big red Coca Cola trucks,  burning oil and creating exhaust that is adding more carbon into our atmosphere.

Bill, please re-think your drink! Your health is important, we all need you in tip top shape.  I’m sure you need some caffeine, after all, you’re working tirelessly to turn 350ppm CO2 into something as instantly recognizable as a Coca Cola logo.  But how about some green tea instead? In addition to a caffeniated boost, you’ll benefit from anti-oxidants. Tea bags are very portable, you just pop them in your re-usable stainless steel tea mug and add water. You can even enjoy it cold or room temperature.

Switching from soda to tea is a simple green strategy, one that we all can do, that will help to make the world a better place.

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