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Order of Magnitude puzzle: Bagging MA

According to the Boston Globe, how many bags (paper + plastic) do grocery stores give out in one year in Massachusetts? (The population is 6.3 million.) You win if you come within an order of magnitude. You don’t, however, win anything.

The answer is in the first comment.

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8 Responses to “Order of Magnitude puzzle: Bagging MA”

  1. 1.5 billion

  2. That’s a lot!–I was way off, even though I knew it would be a huge number.

    Do they all end up in your personal trees?

  3. Why do you care? Seriously.

  4. James, can you imagine how many bags those are? This will give you a visual..scroll down to “Plastic Bags”

    http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php?id=7

  5. I guessed @ 850 million, which is about 5 bags/week, for 50% of the population (my guess as the portion that is doing shopping).

    I bet I was off mainly on the bags/week average. Estimating 9/week gets pretty close to the true number.

    David where did you get that figure?

  6. Front page of yesterday’s Boston Globe.

  7. Yes, it’s a lot. Again, so what? You have to carry groceries in something. Paper bags require more tree farms, reusable bags need to be laundered periodically. TANSTAAFL.

  8. Most bags are made from petroleum-based plastic, with chemicals added for different properties. Petroleum is a non-renewable resource, and some of the chemicals are not particularly friendly. Making the bags adds CO2 to the air. They clog drains and sewers. Burning the plastic at open-fire temperatures causes noxious gases. They can interfere with plant growth and are health hazards to animals that consume them (particularly liable to happen at sea). They break down into particles so tiny they can be breathed in, but are still big enough to lodge in the lungs. And so on.


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