Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Drowning in Life's Trash

Curious thing on Page 1 of USA TODAY® today in their Snaphots® chart. (Note: I tried finding the chart on-line, but couldn't.)(Follow-up Note: Dear USA TODAY ~ Please make it easier to find - and blog about - those clever Snapshots charts on your website!)

Today's question, which I thought was a good one, was: "How much receipt paper is generated by America's retailers?"

The answer? An attention-getting "228.7 million pounds a year."

But the graphic explanation of how heavy that amount of paper is seemed, well, curious ...

"... equal to approximately 2 Titanics."

Two Titanics?! Sorry, but I don't get the connection. Maybe if they were talking about newspapers and the dramatic slippage in the number of home subscriptions over the last few years, a sinking ship reference would be more apt. But sales register receipts?! The connection fails me.

So let me give it a try* ...
  • 228.7 million pounds a year ... equal to the approximate weight of 6,600 semi trucks (@ 30,000 pounds/truck, excluding cargo) -- trucks similar to those that likely delivered the goods to the stores you shopped at that necessitated all those paper receipts in the first place.

  • 228.7 million pounds a year ... equal to the approximate amount of waste generated by the good folk of Kansas City, San Antonio, or Cincinnati, over the course of an average year (@ 56 tons/year/person; city populations) -- trash that, in many cases, included many of those very same paper sales receipts we're talking about here.

On second thought, given the nearly 115 tons of paper sales receipts "drowning" the US each year, maybe the Titanic reference isn't so obtuse after all. Hmmm.

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* and for all you numbers geeks out there that want to check my math, I've provided site references so you can let me know how I did!

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