Oil is not all about gas.


Money in the Barrel

Ever wonder how to impact the consumption of oil? The supply and demand principle is the way. Knee-jerk reaction is stop driving. Yes, that will make an impact, but how would you react if you could make a bigger impact in your kitchen, laundry, bathroom and trash can than you can in your car?

The production of recyclable materials consumes more fossil fuel than all of the cars in the United Sates. By reducing the amount of virgin polyethylene for plastic containers, glass from sand and feldspar, fresh paper from trees, and aluminum, tin and steel cans from ore, everyone can control fuel consumption by recycling.

Recycle everything.

By exercising the law of supply and demand, consumers have direct control over the cost of their own energy consumption, both electric and gasoline. On with the statistics:

  • Recycling aluminum cans consumes 96% less energy than producing from ore, produces 95% less air pollution and produces 97% less water pollution.
  • Recycling one glass bottle will light a 100 watt light bulb for 4 hours. Producing glass from recycled glass reduces solid waste by 75% and air pollution by up to 20%.
  • Recycling one ton of plastic bottles reduces oil consumption by 1.8 tons. Recycling one pound of PET plastic (soda & water bottles) saves 12,000 BTU of energy. Recycling one plastic bottle conserves enough energy to fuel a 60-watt light bulb for almost six hours.
  • Recycling one ton of paper saves 380 gallons of oil- enough to drive a car 1,260 miles- and conserves 4,077 kilowatt hours of energy or enough to heat and cool an average American home for 6 months.
  • Recycling the 39,000,000 appliances last year produced enough steel to build 160 football stadiums. Of the 100,000,000 steel and tin cans used in America everyday, enough cans are thrown away to build all of the cars in America.

Recycle more than 1/10

Not About Consumer Gasoline

Plastic production is the single largest consumer of oil at 8% of the world’s total oil consumption. Recycling of one-tenth (1/10) of American HDPE bottles (detergent, milk and shampoo bottles) would keep 200,000,000 pounds of solid waste out of land fills and save all of the gasoline necessary to transport it.

Aluminum recycling of one ton of cans will conserve 12,725 kilowatt hours, equal to the amount of the electricity used in the average American home in 10 years. This energy is the equivalent to 2,350 gallons of gasoline, or enough to drive a new car 82,250 miles.

Producing glass from only 50% post consumer recycled glass saves 1,330 pounds of sand, 151 pounds of feldspar, 433 pounds of soda ash, 433 pounds of limestone and 288 pounds of mining waste, as well as all of the fuel necessary to transport and process these materials.

Recycle newspapers or read online.

Of the 62,000,000 newspapers printed today, 44,000,000 will be thrown away- the equivalent of 30,000,000 trees. Recycling one ton of paper reduces the use of processed energy by a minimum of 64% in addition to the savings of the fuel consumed by transporting and processing the trees.

American steel and tin recycling currently saves enough electrical energy each year to light Los Angeles (18,000,000 homes) for eight years. Recycling one car saves 1,400 pounds of coal, 120 pounds of limestone, 2,500 pounds of iron ore and all of the fuel to mine and transport the raw materials.

Use Less Oil

Take on oil companies by reducing the need for oil. One recycled aluminum can will save enough gasoline to fill the can half full, and recycling one six pack of aluminum cans would save enough gasoline to drive 5 miles. Producing plastic grocery bags from recycled plastic reduces energy consumption by 67%.

Recycling is more than just conserving the air, trees, coal, natural resources and oil on Earth. It is keeping money in your pocket. 

Sources: California Integrated Waste Management Board, International Aluminum Institute, Steel Recycling Institute, bringrecycling.org, Novelis, EarthWorks Group, San Diego County Office of Education, wmich.edu, EPA, South Carolina Electric & Gas, recyclenow.org, wastewatch.org, wasteonline.org.uk, sks-bottle.com

(In an ongoing effort to keep M3 from being listed as a spam site, the links for this article have been foregone. The websites can be copied and pasted into a browser. Googling any of the other entities with the search term “recycling” will yield the statistics featured in this post.)


How many plastic bottles are in your bathroom and refrigerator right now? How many cans have you thrown away in the last week? What is the price of gasoline where you live? Could you cut your consumption of virgin polyethylene by recycling more than one in ten bottles?

(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2008-2012
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  1. As mentioned before I’m a bit of a recycling hound.

    Even so we are unable to recycle card, paper and black PET used in food packaging – the card and paper because of the risk of arson, but the black PET because the recycling people don’t currently process it.

    even so I wash out every can and strip the labels off every bottle I can, although many have plastic labels which are impossible to remove.

    It’s not just the end user who has to be environmentally friendly – so do the manufacturers!!! 🙁

    Love and hugs!


    • There is a way to strike back at the manufacturers. I do it by refusing to purchase items which are not packaged responsibly. It has meant certain foods we no longer eat and chemicals we no longer use, but in the end, it means a smaller footprint we leave behind. For me, it is important.

  2. Happily, we recycle all of our metal cans, aluminum cans, plastic bottles of all types, styrofoam trays, plastic, cardboard boxes, terrapaks, all paper types, —and then compost all kitchen waste including coffee grounds. Gasoline is $1.25 Cdn /liter, over $5.00/gallon (Imperial).

    • Here it is around $3.50/gallon. I think it is abominable, since the gasoline being sold now was produced as long as four years ago when the production cost was much lower. The profit margin inherently built into the price makes me ill.

  3. Recycling is considered ‘cool’ here in British Columbia where I live. People look down their noses at those who toss a plastic bottle into the garbage can rather than a recycling bin. Recycling bins are everywhere. Hotels, gas stations, restaurants, parking garages… Sometimes I forget that other places may not have progressed so positively as ours here. Great post Red, an important subject matter.

    • I wish this place would come to its senses. I see people every day refuse to recycle. They are content to toss away things which inevitably raise the prices of everything and pollute the environment. Ugh.

  4. We recycle and we use personal water bottles instead of buying bottled water.

  5. W recycle everything and compost in the garden. Even the schools here suggest children bring their lunches in reusable containers to not have anything to throw in the garbage.

    Gasoline in my city is $1.22 a litre currently.Great post. The one thing we are having trouble with is people who whine about the one bag garbage per week be increased on top of the blue boxes and green cart. People are dumping garbage along the roadways.

    • What a shame. The intent is a good one. At home, there is a strict one can limit for household garbage…as in the can must be completely closed or it will not be retrieved from the curb. I would love to see it reduced further. It has never affected me. We produce very little garbage which is not compostable or recyclable.

  6. Believe it or not, 1. I have a 2-litre bottle of Hire’s Root Beer in the fridge. I get everything I can in recycled bags, which you pour into recycled jugs, and buy milk in recycled jugs, and if not fresh (local butcher, etc – I live in the hicks!) then usually comes in those new, cardboard containers.

    I don’t throw cans away, we have the 3-box recycling system here (plastics, paper and cardboard, metals and glass – yeah. we mix cans and bottles!)

    Don’t buy bottled anything, so I can do the third one too!

    yeah, i’m a good carbon citizen!

    • I wish there were fewer in mine, but we have yogurt. I am not in the frame of mind to be making it from scratch, as I have in the past. For this convenience, I do have plastic in the fridge. Milk is the only other one. Condiments are all in glass. Here, there is no recycling for cans, so we have to take them to the scrap yard, who does not pay for them, but will recycle them. I truly live in the stix. There is no garbage service, so I am always bent by the people who toss away garbage bags filled with plastic bottles and drink cans. Shameful.

  7. Don’t you worry, we recycle. We take our own garbage to the transfer station every week, so it is really not big deal just to separate the couple of things and take it. We have a very small amount of actual garbage as a result.

    Sure I have plastic in the fridge. We have had too many glass things broken by our boys. I do buy certain things in glass and then refill them.

  8. Great post Red.
    Our problem here is that we don;t have a house with a yard for compost, and there are limitations on what the city will recycle (like types of plastic).
    Still, my wife and I do try to get as much recycled as possible…

  9. Gas in my area is $3.35/gal. That’s 90 cents/gal. or about 37% above the historical average price of $2.45 / gal. (1918 to 2011 adjusted for 2011 inflation).

  1. The Recycled…Toothbrush? | Momma's Money Matters

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