Thursday, June 26, 2008

Can Recycling Aluminum Cans Help with My Drinking Problem

I have a drinking problem. No, it has nothing to do with all the wine that I drink that I talked about a few weeks ago. It's an addiction to diet soda. I've tried to give it up. I've tried to convince myself it's unhealthy for me. I've even discussed it here before. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to really give it a go. Not for my health, but for the environment. 

The more I learn about plastic, the more I realize that using so much of it is just not good. Even if I recycle it, it doesn't get recycled into another plastic bottle. It gets downcycled. So every time I buy a plastic bottle of diet soda, it's new plastic that it's coming in. I stopped buying it. I've had it in a restaurant a few times because I know it's coming from a fountain.

I've been exhausted. My body is not reacting well to being denied all the caffeine and who knows what else I was filling it with daily. I had a meeting night before last at church, and I broke down and bought a soda on the way. 16 oz of yummy, fizzy, diet soda in an earth harming plastic bottle. I only felt a little built guilty. 

Today, I was checking tonight's weather on and there was a little survey on the side. The survey asked "How many times can you recycle an aluminum can?" It gave a few choices as answers. I chose 5. I was wrong. The correct answer is "unlimited." 

"Wow," I thought. "I didn't know that. Impressive." Then I went on with my work.

A minute later, it struck me. I can buy soda in aluminum cans! I don't have deal with my drinking problem! I can buy 12 packs in reyclable cardboard boxes instead of 2 liter or 16 oz plastic bottles. 

Alleluia! I think I head the angels sing!

Seriously. I'll have to give this some thought. I really should quit drinking the stuff, but it's nice to know that the aluminum can is a better option if I'm unable to control myself.

I've found some interesting facts about recycling aluminum cans.
  • Recycling aluminum cans saves 95 percent of the energy used to make aluminum cans from virgin ore.
  • It takes about 400 years for aluminum to break down naturally.
  • Using recycled aluminum beverage cans to produce new cans allows the aluminum can industry to make up to 20 times more cans for the same amount of energy.
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours.
  • Recycling aluminum creates 97% less water pollution than producing new metal from ore.
  • Aluminum recycles in no time at all. When you send a can to a recycling depot, it’s processed, recycled, and back on the shelf again in about a month.
And, the most interesting fact I found:

  • Aluminum can be recycled over and over without breaking down. In theory, we have an inexhaustible supply of it in circulation right now. If we recycled all our aluminum, we’d never have to make more.
These facts really make you think, don't they? Mostly, they make me think that when I do choose to buy a single beverage and I have a choice between plastic or aluminum, I'm going to choose aluminum. Even if the aluminum container only holds 12 oz and the plastic one holds 16 oz. 

12 oz can ease my withdrawal symptoms just as well as 16 oz, right?

Aluminum recycling facts found at:

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Lynda said...

The thing is, the caffiene withdrawl will end in a week or so and you will feel better than you ever have. Dont give up. You dont need the caffiene. You really dont!

Robin Shreeves said...


Thanks for the encouragement. You know, I often wonder if it's just the caffeine that is addicting in diet soda. I still drink coffee in the morning so I'm not going cold turkey on the caffeine. There is something about it that calls to me. Can't explain it.

But, I didn't run out yesterday and buy any in alluminum cans after my revelation. I am going to see if I can stick it out.

Despairing said...

The Ecologist magazine here in the UK runs a monthly article called "behind the label", which shows the effects of the ingredients in everyday things like deodorant and toothpaste. Here's their article on Diet Coke

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa said...

I messed up the link the first time...let me try again...

aluminum cans are absolutely a better packaging choice, but the amount of resources that are used to produce the beverages itself are astounding - I wrote a bit about it HREF="">here and am also working on a longer bit about coke specifically - bottom line, if you are going to drink the soda, definitely pick the aluminum can, but it's still better for the environment to skip it - sorry :) btw - none of this means I've totally given up my diet coke habit either - I've just tried to cut way back, but every now and then I just can't help it!

Allison said...

You are making me laugh because you sound like me. You justify your negative actions by being light green. I am not criticizing you in any way, I don't want you to think I am. I think we would get a big laugh together because I LOVE diet soda. On my sister blog, , the first thing I won't give up is Diet Pepsi. (As a matter of fact I am writing this with a 32 oz Diet Pepsi from Taco Bell in my hand.) The last time I gave up soda was at 17 years old for Lent, it was hard! Never again. Wait, when I was pregnant I gave up caffiene but not soda. I have read that soda breaks down your bone density and as a woman that scares me. But I still won't give it up.
How about a challenge???? We give up soda for a week. You can celebrate with a soda on 4th of July. Sound good? Not for the environment but for us. I know you gave it up 2 weeks ago but you can try mineral water. Your challenges are usually a week anyway and we usually last longer than a week with no paper towels. Let me know. (I'm gonna have a hard time, my monthly visitor is coming soon. Oh, the mood swings will swing hard. Ha Ha.)

Allison said...

Sorry about messing up the link. I didn't mean to link the whole paragraph. Wow, sorry.

Robin Shreeves said...

Despairing - thanks for the link. I need info like this to help me form a resolve. Not completely formed yet, but it's on it's way.

Melissa - I checked out your post - good food for thought. It does take a lot of resources to make one bottle of soda. Let us know when you post your coke piece.

Allison - at least you figured out how to put a link in one of these messages - I still haven't figured that one out.

I'll try giving it up for a week. I've actually been brewing my own iced tea and drinking it with only slices of lemon in it - no sugar. I'm kinda getting used to it.

Melissa said...

Ok, so you inspired me to do my write up yesterday on coca cola - it ended up taking a slightly different direction than I had planned and turned into more of an armchair activism bit, but here's the link:

Robin Shreeves said...

Melissa - thanks for keeping us informed. Interesting stuff. I encourage everyone to check out the link.