Pure Refreshment: The Eco-Friendliest Convenience Drinks
You've been told a thousand times not to buy bottled water. But you're on the road and parched, your Hydro Flask is empty, and the gas station's drinking fountain looks like a urinal. On top of that, you want something tasty. Good news: You can douse your thirst — and your guilt — with these eco-suggestions from our panel of beverage experts.
JULIE SMOLYANSKY is the CEO of Lifeway Foods, the Illinois-based kefir-drink company that her Russian-immigrant father founded in 1986. She's developed soy and organic versions of kefir for her brand, which buys renewable-energy credits to offset 100% of the electricity it uses.
"When I'm on the go and in need of hydration, I look for VITA COCO's Coconut Water. It reminds me of sitting on a beach and enjoying a fresh coconut with the sound of the ocean crashing. Its eco-friendly, BPA-free Tetra Pak keeps the taste fresh, and it's low in sugar and calories but dense in nutrients, including potassium. As a distance runner, I'm always trying to replace electrolytes." About $3 for 17 ounces
EMILY HO is a food writer and educator at Sustainable Foodworks in Los Angeles. Her recipes have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and Hartford Courant. She also teaches people how to make their own beverages.
"I like fresh fruit juices from NAKED JUICE, a brand that partners with the Rainforest Alliance, operates a LEED-certified bottling plant, and uses 100 percent recycled-plastic bottles. Its Pomegranate Blueberry is especially refreshing, with just the right balance of tart and sweet. For an even more ecofriendly and economical thirst quencher, fill a reusable bottle with filtered water, a handful of frozen berries, a slice of lemon, and a sprig of mint." About $3.75 for 15.2 ounces
RAY LACORTE is the head of operations at Choice Organic Teas, the first U.S. tea company to produce fair-trade-certified teas, as well as to earn non-GMO verification.
"When I need a cool, refreshing drink to give me a boost, the Pure Empower Mint flavor from GUAYAKÍ YERBA MATE is easily my first choice. It offers up a smooth, thirst-quenching blend of yerba mate and fresh mint while providing a balanced caffeine fix. Guayakí has received awards for its sustainability practices, and this flavor is certified organic and fair-trade." $1.50 to $3.25 for 16 ounces
LARA BANDLER has helped launch brands such as Vitaminwater, Smartwater, and Zico coconut water. She sits on the marketing panel of BevNet's yearly beverage school, which teaches drink makers how to improve their craft.
"It's not easy to find organic, healthy, grab-and-go beverages that are available nationally, but my favorite of the moment is GT's KOMBUCHA. It's certified organic and sustainably packaged in glass bottles. They also purchase all of their ingredients here in the U.S. I love the complex Raspberry Chia flavor. Its unsweetened juice and purees give it a natural, tart taste that combines well with the earthy flavor and texture of the raw chia seeds." $3.50 to $5 for 16 ounces
DAVID DAFOE's abilities as a "supertaster" have landed him gigs concocting cocktails for Jack Daniel's and Southern Comfort. He founded Flavorman, a beverage-development and ingredient-supply company that helps brands create new products.
"To get great flavor and convenience while staying green, I love the White Cran-Peach drink mix from OCEAN SPRAY. I just pop a packet into some tap water and I am in heaven. I can get 10 drinks from a single 1.1-ounce box, which saves significantly on packaging and transportation. They're super to take on vacation and to have at work for a quick drink." About $4 for 1.1 ounces
--reported by Avital Andrews / photos by Lori Eanes