Everyone is concerned about the amount of available fresh water. The rant on the amount of water wasted on gardens and lawns has been raging for years, but no one is worried about the volume of fresh water wasted in the form of ice cubes. And waste it is too. Ice cubes are beyond unsustainable and their manufacture, storage and distribution eats up tons of energy.
Ice is a given. Its doubtful most of us really ever think about how much water we waste as it melts away. Bagged ice for coolers definitely make a trip to the beach, park and camping in the wilds more pleasant. Fast food and dine-in restaurants that number in the millions go through a lot of ice on a daily basis for water and soft drinks served to diners, cocktail lounges and bars use an incredible amount of ice during business hours too. Home refrigerators pump out ice continually, and there are still people who still use antiquated ice trays.
Ice is big business and has been for much of history. It was once a sustainable product – cut from lakes in winter and stored in an insulated building for distribution until new resources were available when cold weather rolled around again. Ice harvesting is far different than ice making. Today’s ice business does over $2.5 billion a year in sales just in the United States. Add the rest of the Americas, all of Europe, the British isles, Asia, the tropics, Australia… and well the entire planet. How many gallons of water do we use on this planet for ice every year? Betcha its a staggering sum.
Ice companies aren’t around the block either. Ice houses are spread across the land to make it profitable for the ice company to be competitively priced and not loose the seat of their pants on shipping costs. However, there’s a lot of fuel used in delivering bagged ice to ice boxes at gas stations, party stores and grocery stores everywhere. Lots of carbon pollution going on here, especially in summertime when coolers come out and party season is in high gear along with soaring temperatures.
To make matters worse, do you ever think about what is in your ice cube? FDA and other governments’ agencies regulate the production and labeling of ice, along with inspecting processing and storage facilities. Still, many municipal water supplies contain elements most people really don’t want to drink, and ice is made from locally available water. The same is true of the ice cubes you make at home where if you don’t use them fast enough the water content begins evaporating, leaving you with sediment, minerals and even chemicals in a concentrated form.
Adding ice to any kind of drink dilutes it. While we want cold drinks, if you don’t consume it rapidly, you’ll most likely toss what is left when it gets too watered down. If you give this entire scenario some thought, you’ll see that not only is ice an unsustainable resource that wastes a lot of energy, increases our carbon footprint, and all that just runs down the drain. It can also contain stuff most people have switched to bottled water to avoid imbibing. Is your Coke better tasting infused with chlorine and nitrates via your ice cubes?
Check out this new Kickstarter for rechargeable ice cubes. Its ingenious, and until I saw it this morning, like you, I really never thought about ice and its wastefulness or questionable ingredients. After all, ice is readily available everywhere.
If you pop over to the OneHundred.co page, you can snag a set of 6 for as little as $29.00 USD. How cool is that? A real steal on sustainable chilling techniques that will last forever and won’t ruin your wine, cola or beer.
If you don't find her at the desk - check the gardens. When not writing and weeding, she enjoys a good book, painting junk furniture, and blending the harvest of heirloom tomatoes and chiles into salsas.