Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Killing the planet, one Diet Coke at a time

I love my Diet Coke. I admit my addiction fully, though I’ve cut back in recent years to the equivalent of four cans each day (well within the safe caffeine limits for pregnancy, in case you’re curious).

Yesterday, though, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo in our office. Each of us sat around a table with a can of soda, which we dutifully poured over a disposable plastic cup of ice (No. 6 notwithstanding).

It got me thinking: Are we killing our planet, one Diet Coke at a time?

While I religiously recycle at home, even allowing a bag to build up in my car rather than toss in a trash can, we only offer can recycling in our office, and no plastic or aluminum can recycling at our main campuses for the company I work.

So, what is worse: Pop in plastic or cans? The reality is both use a tremendous amount of resources.

According to Earth 911 and the Pacific Institute:

  • Gossing your plastic bottle wastes approximately .00034 barrels of oil each time. “Producing the bottles for American consumption (in 2006) required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation,” writes the Pacific Institute Web site.
  • Tossing your can “wastes enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for almost four hours or run your television for three hours. Tossing away an aluminum can wastes as much energy as pouring out half of that can’s volume of gasoline,” writes Earth 911.

While I’ve yet to find direct comparisons of energy resources used, the fact is clear: By not recycling plastic bottles or cans, we’re contributed to the high energy prices we’re complaining about.

According to earth911:

Last year 54 billion cans were recycled saving energy equivalent to 15 million
barrels of crude oil - America’s entire gas consumption for one day.

Right now, Americans recycle less than one-fourth of the bottles they use. Just think: If we recycled every soda and water bottle, we could conserve the equivalent of our nation’s entire gas consumption for four days.

Think about that the next time you reach for your 3:00 caffeine fix.

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