I’ve had my SodaStream Penguin since the company sent me one to try out in 2009 and, as reported on this site, I love making seltzer at home. Or at least, I used to love it. A couple of years ago, a politically active friend told me that the company operates in a West Bank settlement, a fact I found alarming and upsetting. It was also a fact I had trouble verifying in a cursory Google search. Since then my roommate and I, who both love bubbly water, have done a fair amount of research online and through conversations with friends working in the field of human rights. Verdict: SodaStream does operate in illegally occupied land in the West Bank and therefore will receive no more money from our housefold.
To meet our cravings for bubbles, we decided to find alternatives to purchasing SodaStream CO2 cartridge refills (SodaStream seltzer makers use proprietary cartridges, which theoretically require paying them and only them for more gas when the bubbles run flat). We haven’t quite figured out a way around this, though according to the internet, it’s possible to buy cartridges from other companies that fit the Penguin. In the meantime, we haven’t used the device.
Also in the meantime, Scarlett Johansson‘s decision to serve as a spokesperson for the company — and to defend its business operations — has brought a lot of attention to the topics of homemade seltzer, celebrity endorsements, human rights violations and peace in the Middle East. I have to say, on a personal note, I find her stance surprising. Before this move, I have admired her progressive politics and outspoken support for reelecting the President, defending women’s health and rights in the U.S. and reducing poverty around the world.
For more background on this brouhaha, here are some handy links:
- everydaytrash.com’s review of the SodaStream Penguin
- A Guardian piece on ScarJo quitting her volunteer gig with Oxfam after they critiqued her SodaStream endorsement
- ScarJo’s SodaStream ad
- Jezebel’s recap of the controversy
- A handy list of alternatives to SodaStream, starting with just drink plain water