Try this search on Google. I promise you’ll be surprised!

January 26, 2007 5:43 pm

Doing some research for an illustration I wanted to post on this blog, I typed the following search terms into Google: aluminum can volume. What do you think a search like this would bring you? Try it out yourself. You’ll be as surprised as I was.

It’s this:


Almost every result talks about how much energy is wasted when you don’t recycle a soda can! It’s the equivalent of filling the can halfway with gas and pouring it out. If that idea won’t make you think more about recycling aluminum cans, maybe this calculation will:

Half a soda can is 6 oz. A gallon has 128 oz. So 21.333 empty cans thrown away equal a gallon of gas wasted. My car has a tank capacity of about 15 gallons (I think). So it would take 320 non-recycled cans for me to waste a tank full of gas. My car can travel about 300 miles on a tank of gas. I certainly don’t want to waste energy like that. Especially energy coming from our dwindling oil reserves. We’ll need that oil for lots of other things besides burning it for transportation. For example, most plastics are based on oil, and I wonder how many cool and wonderful gadgets and gizmos (needing plastic enclosures and parts) we won’t be able to produce in the future if we run out of oil. Pardon the digression.

Anyway, now I’ve used my illustration and even given it a little surprising Google story to go with it.

2 Responses to “Try this search on Google. I promise you’ll be surprised!”

GeekTieGuy » Blog Archive » Apple’s new iMacs sent a pingback on August 7, 2007

[…] previous post for more details on how much energy goes into making aluminum, illustrated by soda […]

Bill Scarvie wrote a comment on May 21, 2008

This is an eye opener. Now let’s take it to scale. Go to the photographer Chris Jordan’s website,, and click on the “By the Numbers” link. Scroll down and you will find an image entitled “Cans, Seurat, 2007” that depicts the number of soda cans emptied every 30 seconds. Using your calculation of 21.333 cans thrown away equals a gallon of gas, the volume of gas consumed every 30 seconds is 4,969 gallons. I don’t have access to recycling numbers, but let’s say we recycle 50% of all cans consumed. That’s still an astonishing 4,969 gallons a minute, and at nearly $4 a gallon, we’re throwing away nearly $20,000 a minute.
Be sure you spend enough time at Chris’s site to look at all his images. The scale of waste will further blow your mind. I know him well enough to have faith in his research.

Care to comment?

%d bloggers like this: