Shipping Fuel Consumption of Soylent 1.5 (powder) vs. 2.0 (liquid)

If fuel consumption during shipment is a function of mass, then calorie for calorie, Soylent 2.0 consumes 4.375 times more fuel to ship than Soylent 1.5. [0] So, let’s consider a hypothetical Soylent drinker who lives 1,000 miles from the closest distribution center. How much more fuel would he or she consume by drinking Soylent 2.0 instead of 1.5?

Soylent ships via priority mail, which travels long-distance by air in the United States. Let’s assume that air freight consumes approximately 9,600 BTU per ton-mile [1], and a gallon of jet fuel (kerosene) contains 128,100 BTU [2]. In this case, Soylent 1.5 consumes 0.30 gallons of jet fuel per shipment, or 0.042 gallons per 2,000 calories [3]. Soylent 2.0 consumes 0.45 gallons of jet fuel per shipment, or 0.188 gallons per 2,000 calories.

So, for every 2,000 calories of nutrition provided by Soylent 2.0, we are also ‘drinking’ 24 fluid ounces of jet fuel to deliver it, compared to only 5.4 ounces for Soylent 1.5!

If our hypothetical Soylent drinker consumes 2,000 calories per day for a year, he or she also consumes 68 gallons of jet fuel for Soylent 2.0, vs. just 15 gallons for Soylent 1.5. This is equivalent to releasing 1436 pounds of CO2 [4] vs. 317 pounds: our soylenteer’s choice to drink Soylent 2.0 would release 1,119 more pounds of carbon dioxide per year than drinking Soylent 1.5.

I don’t understand why Rosa Labs is shipping mostly water on planes, especially given Rob Rhinehart’s focus on efficiency [5] [6]. Soylent 1.5 is calorie-dense nutrition optimized for storage and long-distance transportation. Literally everyone who can afford to drink Soylent also has access to water locally. Is the small convenience of not having to mix Soylent in a pitcher worth the significant environmental cost?

[0] (Box of Soylent 1.5 powder: 8 pounds, 14,000 calories, 1750 calories per pound. Box of Soylent 2.0 liquid: 12 pounds, 4800 calories, 400 calories per pound.)



[3] These calculations disregard the first-mile pickup and last-mile delivery via truck, which are likely to be a small fraction of the fuel consumed by air freight.





does it really matter, why do people overthink stuff like this


Is not the point that “efficiency” is defined, at least in this case…by the end user? If Soylent 2.0 is most efficient for a particular consumer, so be it…personally, prefer the powder and ability to tweak and twiddle with flavorings. I guess that begs the question as to whether I’ve then compromised the intent of Soylent by decreasing relative preparatory efficiency! As other elements of the thoughtfully presented calculations (above) factor into the question/argument presented…this is more of a “philosophical environmentally directed statement” rather than one of efficiency which is the critique of Soylents business model that appears to be being made.

Dreading the rhetorical consequences…the “reply” button is now clicked! :smile:


All modes of shipping transport will be woefully inefficient until Amazon Tub Prime is constructed:


That’s kind of what the forum is for.


Environmental cost compared to powdered, sure.

But I’d be interested to know how Soylent 2.0 compares to other diets in terms of overall carbon footprint. If it’s less, then I think Soylent 2.0 would be a win compared to other diets that people actually have, as opposed to the hypothetical diet of everyone mixing up powder every day.


I completely agree with the OP about this. But I think that 2.0 is not the wave of the future. It is an expedient: a way to get samples into the hands of people who have never tried it. In the long term, something like powdered Soylent is much more revolutionary and practical and environmentally responsible.

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I don’t disagree with the analysis, but I wouldn’t buy a powder because making shakes doesn’t work for me (occupies a non-reachable subregion of my personal cost-benefit surface).
so it’s 2.0 for me.


As compact and light as possible to more local then mixed with water and delivered via pipe to your home.
step 1 find a liquid version that people like.

Could you translate between the parenthesis for me?

Really? Cos as humans, we seem fairly keen on gaining convenience at the cost of pretty much anything else, including environmental damage.

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that would be the non-parenthetical “it doesn’t work for me”

It’s a concern, but not the prime one right now. Perfect the Soylent formulation(s) first and foremost. Then get into other “inefficiencies”, starting from the source and ending at the consumer. I don’t think it’s best to solve every minute detail at the same time.

It’s kind of a non-issue since 1.5 is still available and also cheaper, so the only people ordering 2.0 are those that are either waiting for the powder to be updated (me!) or those who prefer a bottled product and wouldn’t be buying the powder even if it was the only option.


That means it doesn’t work for you? As in the exercise is annoying? Sorry if I seem dense. I’m 65 and it’s getting worse.

If you really apply yourself, you can turn 64 on your next birthday.


making a shake from a powder is more work than making real food that tastes better, for me.


You forgot that Soylent has two fulfillment centers, one on the east coast and one on the west coast. So not all shipments will have the same fuel consumption. I’m pretty sure that when I receive my shipments they are being driven directly from the PA fulfillment center to my door with no planes involved, just a couple of FedEx trucks.

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You mean something like opening a can of tuna, or pouring boiling water into an instant ramen cup? That’s the kind of thing that comes to mind when I think of “real food” that is less work and tastes better than Soylent. Is that what you mean? Or do you have a secret to making quick and easy healthy food? Seriously, I’d love to know. Because normally for me “real” food that is comparably nutritious to Soylent means quite a bit more time and effort applied :frowning:

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Shakes from powder may be harder for me than for most. I can never get them completely dissolved enough to be palatable, and having to make it up every evening and set overnight and scrub a pitcher that everything sticks to is all more work for me than tossing a bunch of vegetables in a pot one day a week and making a big batch of lunches that i microwave each day. Even cleaning the pot and the lunch containers is easier than cleaning the post-powder pitcher.

This is why i emphasized my personal cost/benefit surface in my parenthetical. Because I realize that my experience may differ from others.