How far can your country travel on year of plastic bags?

OK, I know its a bit daft, but here goes:

a) How long (on average) is a plastic bag?
b) How many plastic bags does an ‘average’ person in your country use in a year?
c) Approximately how many people from your country go shopping / use plastic bags?
d) If you stretch out all of the plastic bags used by people in your country over the period of a year (end to end), how far will you get?

For the UK, I would guess:

a) = 0.4m (possibly 0.3)
b) = 5x52 = 250 bags/person/year (probably more)
c) = 20,000,000 shoppers (probably more)
d) = 250 x 0.4 x 20,000,000 = 2,000,000,000m = 2 million km.

(Assuming my maths is about right) 2 million km worth of plastic bags will get you:

  1. 50 times around the worlds equator
  2. 2 return trips to the moon + a one-way ticket

hmm… how far does a plastic bag stretch

That’s a little much, wouldn’t you say? I would think that when my dad goes shopping on the weekend, he might bring stuff home in 4 or 5 shopping bags. And there’s four of us at home currently.

That’s a good point mazer. I took this into account in the next question

c) How many people go shopping in your country

  • the 20,000,000 figure I came up with = about one third of the total uk population. There’s also seasonal adjustments to be made for times when people do more shopping

On another note, does anyone know how far a ball point pen would draw for in a straight line?

I don’t know any of these questions and I don’t even care…



well? what’s the answer? this is important stuff

On another note, does anyone know how far a ball point pen would draw for in a straight line?

It would draw until it ran out of ink. Another mystery solved.

Thanks for that hilarious answer.

Well, I can’t find the real answer, but I did find this pen related trivia.

If you hold a ball point pen in the air, and assume the ball is a scale model of the earth, then hold a ping pong ball 15 feet away, that would represent the sun.
Were you to represent the next nearest star to us (Proxima Centauri) with another ping pong ball, you would have to position it approx. 2300km away from the one you used for the sun.

and the answer is approximately 9km

…and since I found out the answer robdollar, maybe you can let us know how many sandwiches an astronaut would need to take on the journey to proxima centauri.

and the answer is approximately 9km

How do we know that is the real answer? Could you provide a link to where you found this out, or a calculation that shows this to be true?

bottom of page

…now what about those sandwiches?


Why thank you … but erhm… what’s that coming outta yer nose?


Depends how fast you were travelling I suppose, Proxima centauri is 4.2 light years away from us, so someone travelling at the speed of light would technically require about 3066 weetabixes (with about 900litres of milk) 1533 Cheese and Pickle sandwiches and 1533 tv dinners.

In currently-available speed terms, a space shuttle travels at about 5 miles a second (approx 18,000mph). The distance to Proxima in miles is about 929,558,205,000 miles, and it would take about 142 thousand years to get there. Thats a lot of sandwiches and a lot of babies aswell.

in my calculations i got:
1 year is ~365.242199 days
Proxima centauri is 4.22 lightyears away

~365.242199*4.22=~1541.32208 days it takes for light to travel to Proxima Centauri

Assuming the astronaut traveled at the speed of light, and only ate 5 sandwiches per day, they would need approximately 7706.6104 sandwiches

I’m a bit hungry now, I might go and eat 61.04% of a sandwich.

Just make sure you keep the other 38.96 % sealed and refrigerated, for later :wink:
midnight snack, anyone?

Found out on google. it’s a know fact: Never laugh when you drink milk!

excellent work robdollar, superx10. Looks like that speed of light could be quite handy for our space shuttle.

no need to worry about the refrigerator superx10. I reckon you could just pop it outside the space shuttle. should keep fresh for a couple of light years or so.