Monday, January 5, 2009

My 432 lb Diet Pepsi

Perhaps out of boredom I just decided I needed a soda. I ventured over to Wolfe Hall to the soda machine. I inserted my $1.25 and received an ice cold Diet Pepsi. I recognize there are so many environmental issues with my decision but sometimes a soda sounds so much more refreshing than tap water. I'll put the discussion of aspartame, plastic bottling, transportation, manufacturing, and recycling aside for now. I want to discuss the vending machine.

Most people probably wouldn't even notice but I am developing an eye for this type of thing. The last final exam at Lasell College was on December 20th and classes resume on January 21st. I was just able to purchase an ice cold soda in a building that is empty from students for a full month. There are only three offices in the building so chances are the machine is getting no use. In fact, I am willing to bet I may have purchased the only soda from that machine for the 1 month break period.

A typical soda vending machine uses about 400 watts. The machine does not have a VendingMiser so it is fully powered 24 hours a day. For the 1 month period when students are not on campus the machine will use about 288 kWh of electricity. This costs the College about $34.56. The carbon footprint of the vending machine during this period is about 432 lbs of CO2 if we assume 1.5 lbs per kWh.

Small details such as vending machine power add up on a college campus but are hard to manage. I have no idea how many machines we have on campus. I'm sure there are some in the dorms running right now as well as in other academic buildings. If there are 10 then we are wasting $345.60 in electricity during the break and indirectly emitting 4320 lbs of CO2.

I could dig further and call around to find out who overseas vending machines on campus. I don't know whose responsibility it would be to unplug machines. I'm sure we have some type of contract but locating the details would take quite of bit of time. I'm busy trying to prepare my syllabus for my Environmental Science class. I think I just identified the first assignment though.

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