Saturday, January 19, 2008

Recycling day

Should have taken a picture of the car full of crap... it was great, we looked homeless, quite humbling.

No, the one picture of all the Heineken bottles is NOT all from us.

We go about once every 2 - 3 months after collecting everything in our storage unit. It really begs the question, is it all worth it? I decided to figure it out.


  • 85 minutes
  • 0.58 gallons of gasoline (19 miles at about 33MPG)
  • $1.89 (058 gallons at $3.29/gallon)

  • $5.32 from glass and plastic (they don't pay for tin... or non-CRV glass)
  • $1.50 from mixed paper
  • John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” (Anna recommends)
  • Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone" (Josh recommends)
  • Will Self's "The Book of Dave

I'll say the loss of 85 minutes on a sunny day with a beautiful girl is definitely negligible. Total monetary gain was $4.93 ($1.74/hr wage for each of us, yikes). The three books were found in the mixed paper pile at the recycle place. No, I/we were not digging through garbage, they were right on top (that's what they all say). It was interesting, actually, there were hundreds of books in this pile. I started rifling through them and it was a really diverse collection... computer books, business books, fiction, textbooks. I would have spent a few hours looking through them (just the ones on top, of course) but then it occurred to me that the place paid someone for the books so I would actually be stealing from them. We took a couple but since the place weighs your car before and after you dump the stuff, we ended up paying for them. Random!

So, really, was it worth it? Personally it is but what about environmentally (which is the point of the whole thing)? Let's find out...

The only environmental cost imposed on the world would be the gasoline used to transport the materials; everything else is too small to be counted.

0.58 gallons of gasoline = 2.42 kg of carbon = 5.34 lbs of carbon(Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

2.42 kg carbon = 201 moles of carbon (basically, a certain number of actual atoms of carbon [12,133,529,620,000,000,000,000,000]) = 201 moles of CO2 and CO combined

* It's hard to get a number/percent of how much of the exhaust is CO. I'm going to go with 10% and feel good about it.

201 moles of CO2 and CO combined = ~181 moles CO2 = 7.97 kg CO2 = 17.6 lbs CO2


0.58 gallons of gasoline = 124,884 BTUs (

I'll see if I can't find some good numbers on how much plastic + paper + glass manufacturing pollutes per bottle. Or, even better, how many bottles, etc. my pollution accounts for... stay tuned.

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