Oranges And Cola ~ Radical Thinking Needed!

Discarded Cola Can

Here at Amos, Turunç, Near Marmaris, there always seems plenty to do, and time passes quickly. Perhaps this is because we’ve chosen to lead a life that’s pretty self-sufficient?

We’re currently burning wood salvaged from the husbandry of the estate. This means that it must first be cut up by either a saw or a bill hook. Irem too keeps busy preparing most of our food by hand. Slowly we’re beginning to produce several varieties of home made biscuits and cookies, and no longer purchase shop bought ones.

As a result our shopping expenses are dropping dramatically and we only need to go to Marmaris every two, or three weeks. Sometimes though we travel there just for a change of scene.

On a recent trip I overheard a group of English residents discussing their life in Turkey. They were bemoaning the amount of kitchen gadgetry they had purchased. For example one couple had bought an orange press to make fresh orange juice.

“Who presses their own orange juice?” one asked. “It just takes up space in the cupboard.”

My heart sank as I heard this, and similar comments. But I realise that is the way that most of the Western World thinks and lives. It’s all about convenience, with little thought of balance, or aesthetics.

A fresh orange needs no cardboard container. It requires no additives. It doesn’t need to be inspected by a clutch of buffoons form Brussels. It simply IS, and with a relatively small amount of effort it will yield either its juice, or segments both of which are rich in Vitamin C.

A carton of orange juice by contrast requires the manufacture of paper, preservatives, industrial presses, a factory unit etc. And a carton of orange juice is by no means the most harmful of products on the planet. Take your average can of Cola for example?

Quoting from ‘Lean Thinking‘ by James Womack and Daniel Jones:

“The can itself is more costly and complicated to manufacture than the cola. Bauxite is mined in Australia and trucked to a chemical reduction mill where a half hour process purifies each ton on bauxite into a half ton of aluminum oxide. When enough is stockpiled, it is loaded on a giant ore carrier and sent to Sweden or Norway, where hydroelectric dams provide cheap electricity. After a month long journey across two oceans, it usually sits at the smelter for as long as two months.

The smelter takes two hours to turn each half to of aluminum oxide into a quarter ton of aluminum metal, in ingots ten metres long. These are cured for two weeks before being shipped to roller mills in Sweden or Germany. There each ingot is heated to nearly nine hundred degrees Fahrenheit and rolled down to the thickness of an eighth of an inch. The resulting coiled are wrapped in ten-ton coiled and transported to a warehouse, and then to a cold rolling mill in the same or another country, where they are rolled tenfold thinner for fabrication. The aluminum is then sent to England, where sheets are punched and formed into cans, which are washed, dried, painted with a base coat, and then painted again with specific product information. The cans are next lacquered, flanged (they are still topless), sprayed inside with a protective coating to prevent the cola from corroding the can and inspected.

The cans are palletised; fork lifted, and warehoused until needed. Then shipped to the bottler, where they are washed and cleaned once more, then filled with water mixed with flavoured syrup, phosphorus, caffeine, and carbon dioxide gas. The sugar is harvested from beet fields in France and undergoes trucking, milling, refining, and shipping. The phosphorus comes from Idaho, where it is excavated from deep open-pit mines – a process that also unearths cadmium and radioactive thorium. Round the clock the mining company uses the same amount of electricity as a city of 100,000 people in order to reduce the phosphate to food grade quality. The caffeine is shipped from a chemical manufacturer to the syrup manufacturer in England.

The filled cans are sealed with aluminum “pop top” lids at the rate of fifteen hundred cans per minute, and then inserted into cardboard cartons printed with matching colour and promotional schemes. The cartons are made of forest pulp that may have originated anywhere from Sweden or Siberia to the old-growth, virgin forests of British Columbia that are the home of grizzly bears, wolverines, otters and eagles. Palletised again the cans are shipped to a regional distribution warehouse, and shortly thereafter to a supermarket where a typical can is purchased within three days. The consumer buys twelve ounces of the phosphate tinged, caffeine-impregnated, caramel-flavoured sugar water. Drinking cola takes a few minutes; throwing the can away takes a second. In England, consumers discard 84% of all cans, which means that the overall rate of aluminum waste, after counting production losses is 88%. Every product that we consume has a similar hidden history, an unwritten inventory of its materials, resources and impacts.”

There was a time I thought that perhaps education would help people to become aware of this kind of nonsense and that once educated they might, like me, prefer to lead a simpler life that offers some future for all our children and grandchildren.

But unfortunately the people I overheard weren’t uneducated, far from it. Some were teachers to the next generation. They’re neither to be condemned for ignorance, nor stupidity, but simply because, like most of us who have been raised in a belief system that espouses convenience and disposability, they can’t appreciate any alternative.

It is enjoyable to cut your own wood, bake your own bread, squeeze your own orange, or cook home made biscuits and pies. But people would far sooner play with their X-Boxes.

I no longer think that the majority people capable of the kind of radical change in their lifestyles that is required. As a result the last can of cola, or carton of orange juice will still be manufactured in the same wasteful way when it’s far too late for your children, and mine!

One Response to “Oranges And Cola ~ Radical Thinking Needed!”

  1. Pebbles From Paradise » Blog Archive » The Cereal Packet, Aesthetics, Hell, China, Tibet And More . . . Says:

    [...] Pebbles From Paradise Stephen Bray’s journal from Amos Bay, Near Marmaris, Turkey « Oranges And Cola ~ Radical Thinking Needed! Add A Little Grey To Your Grey Day: All In The Name Of Good Colour, Of Course! » [...]

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