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How much raw material goes into the foods you eat and products you use on an everyday basis

How much raw material goes into the foods you eat and products you use on an everyday basis thumbnail
iphone
Each iPhone contains 31 grams of aluminum.
istock; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

You’d be surprised by how much raw material goes into the everyday items you use.

For example, take your coffee habit. The average cup of coffee requires about 100 beans. So if you drink one cup per day, you’d need at least nine coffee trees producing full-time to give you a year’s worth of joe. (That’s not to mention the vast amounts of water, fertilizer, and manual labor needed to keep a coffee plantation running.)

In our modern lives, it’s often easy to forget our impact on the natural world, since most of us are far removed from the places and processes in which most foods and products are made.

For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of how much raw material goes into nine common food items and products below.

View As: One Page Slides

One loaf of bread requires just under a pound of wheat.

One loaf of bread requires just under a pound of wheat. istock; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

When wheat is harvested, it’s gathered into 60-pound bushels. According to the National Festival of Breads, one bushel can produce around 42 pounds of flour, which is enough to make around 70 loaves of white bread.

You need about 12 oranges to make the average liter of orange juice.

You need about 12 oranges to make the average liter of orange juice. istock; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

PepsiCo’s signature orange juice brand, Tropicana, uses about 12 oranges in each liter of orange juice. If you’re making orange juice at home, the general rule is about two to three oranges per cup.

It takes two chickens an average of one week to lay a dozen eggs.

It takes two chickens an average of one week to lay a dozen eggs. istock; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Depending on the breed, the average hen can lay four to six eggs in a week, for a total of around 200 eggs per year (everybody needs a day off). That means it takes two hens a week’s worth of work to produce a dozen eggs.

An average men’s t-shirt takes 0.5 pounds of cotton to make.

An average men's t-shirt takes 0.5 pounds of cotton to make. istock; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Harvested cotton is gathered into bales, which weigh around 500 pounds. That’s enough to produce around 1,000 medium-sized men’s t-shirts, according to the National Cotton Council.

Blue jeans, on the other hand, need around 1.5 pounds of cotton per pair.

You’ll need between one and two agave plants to make a handle of tequila.

You'll need between one and two agave plants to make a handle of tequila. istock; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

When agaves are harvested for tequila production, the heart, or piña, gets removed. The piñas are then roasted and crushed to produce the liquid that becomes tequila. They can weigh between 80 and 200 pounds when harvested.

While tequila production isn’t an exact science, you need one to two agave plants to produce an average handle of the alcohol, according to a Quora thread from a tequila producer.

It takes 2.1 gallons of crude oil to generate a gallon of gasoline.

It takes 2.1 gallons of crude oil to generate a gallon of gasoline. istock; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Crude oil is produced and exported in barrels, which each contain 42 gallons of oil. That oil gets refined, a process that separates it into different components that are then turned into the products we use.

After that process, each barrel produces around 20 gallons of the gasoline you’d find at your local gas station, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The rest of the oil gets processed into diesel fuel, jet fuel, and a range of other petroleum-based products like plastics.

A liter of bottled water takes 1.39 liters of water to produce.

A liter of bottled water takes 1.39 liters of water to produce. istock; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

To produce a liter of bottled water, companies that bottle water uses an average of 1.39 liters of fresh water, according to the International Bottled Water Association.

The extra 0.39 liters is used for processing, which includes treatment, sanitation, and bottling. That number does not factor in the water used in the production of the plastic bottle.

Each iPhone contains 31 grams of aluminum.

Each iPhone contains 31 grams of aluminum. istock; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Your iPhone contains a number of metals, including titanium and iron. But there is far more aluminum, which is used to make your phone’s outer case, than any other metal.

Aluminum comprises around 24% of an iPhone’s mass, followed by iron, which makes up around 14% of the device’s mass, according to Motherboard.

The rest of the iPhone contains various rare earth elements and other metals like titanium, cobalt and nickel.

You’ll need the annual yield of nine coffee trees to give you one cup of coffee per day for a year.

You'll need the annual yield of nine coffee trees to give you one cup of coffee per day for a year. istock; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

Here’s how this breaks down: An average cup of coffee uses around 100 coffee beans. A coffee tree can produce, on average, 4,000 coffee beans in a year, according to Treehugger. That means you’ll need at least nine trees to produce a year’s worth of coffee for a cup-per-day drinker.

That’s not to mention the inputs required for coffee to grow, be roasted, or brew, nor the fact that it takes a coffee tree at least 5 years to reach full productivity.

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10 Comments on "How much raw material goes into the foods you eat and products you use on an everyday basis"

  1. Duncan Idaho on Mon, 11th Jun 2018 8:59 am 

    I grew coffee in Maui. Incredibly labor intensive—
    The plants themselves? Not so much.

  2. JuanP on Mon, 11th Jun 2018 9:08 am 

    I, for one, think that the 31 grams of Aluminum in an iPhone are a good investment, besides being 100% recyclable. Don’t get me started on Aluminum drink cans or Aluminum foil, though. Ido drink coffee and bottled water, though, and I admit that I am so selfish that I absolutely don’t give a fuck about their environmental costs. My eggs come from my chickens and if you tasted you wouldn’t go back. Yummy!

  3. MASTERMIND on Mon, 11th Jun 2018 9:32 am 

    ‘He’s Mentally Ill’: Trump Ghostwriter Warns ‘Fragile’ and ‘Unstable’ Trump Will Continue Attacking U.S. Allies

    https://www.alternet.org/hes-mentally-ill-trump-ghostwriter-warns-fragile-and-unstable-trump-will-continue-attacking-us

  4. Bob on Mon, 11th Jun 2018 11:20 am 

    Wheat, 70 loaves of bread, for one 60 lb. bushel of wheat, at $4.50 per bushel, 6 cents for a loaf of bread, the profit margin is so high that you get wheat in everything.

  5. rockman on Mon, 11th Jun 2018 12:01 pm 

    Juan – Rutroh! We may soon see an ETP model proving that thermodynamics of chicken production will be going negative soon. Life without Popeye’s chicken will be unboreable!!!

  6. Anonymouse1 on Mon, 11th Jun 2018 2:03 pm 

    A litre of OJ = 12 orange, lol. I dont think so. Most ‘orange’ juice these days, consists of artificial flavoring + water. This is the case with many flavored drinks, not just OJ of course.

    BI is a worthless rag of course. Look at the way they focus on the Iphones aluminum. They completely omit to mention the (real) problem with Iphones is the massive environmental and energy footprint of the OTHER 76% of its components.

    It takes more than ‘2.1 gallons’ of crude, to deliver a ‘gallon’ of gas, to end users in the amerikan empire.

    It takes more than water to make bottled water. It takes oil, and lots of it. BI should have mentioned that as well, but chose not to of course.

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics. A BI specialty.

  7. Makati1 on Mon, 11th Jun 2018 5:26 pm 

    The energy that goes into the bottles, i-junk, fertilizer, etc. is barely mentioned, yet that is the determining factor that says what is made and what is not. Plants use solar energy to exist. All else require those plants as food energy or FFs of some sort. We are killing off the ecosystem that support the plants by burning the FFs. Insanity!

  8. Makati1 on Mon, 11th Jun 2018 5:50 pm 

    For a good look at the energy that goes into everything I highly recommend that you read this excellent article on the subject and maybe, reread it if it has been a while since your last reading.

    http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/12/machines-making-machines-making.html

    It is not long, but a huge platter of “food for thought”.

  9. DerHundistLos on Mon, 11th Jun 2018 10:06 pm 

    “Trees That Have Lived for Millennia Are Suddenly Dying”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/06/baobab-trees-dying-climate-change/562499/

    The signs are everywhere…….

  10. big blue chunks on Tue, 12th Jun 2018 6:07 pm 

    So now autistic kindergarten nannies are writing articles.

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