How Much Lego Do We Vacuum Up Every Year?

by admin on November 17, 2011

LEGO was created in Billund, Denmark

Clackity, clackity, clackity goes my vacuum cleaner. Oops, another piece of Lego gets sucked into the great oblivion. No big deal, I tell myself; the kids have lots and lots of Lego, one piece here and there will not make a dent in their collection. While this is true, it got me thinking; just how much Lego do we vacuum or sweep up every year? I work at a toy store in Courtenay, B.C., Canada and I have to listen daily to customer laments on the costliness of the world’s favorite toy. If every parent was like myself; preoccupied with the minutia required to keep a family of 4 on track, one little yellow brick is nothing in the grand scheme of things; but is it really?

How many thousands of dollars are we sucking up every year in a desperate attempt to stay on top of the professional messmakers we call children? The first step in answering this question starts with myself. I estimate, conservatively, I vacuum about 5 pieces of Lego per year. I have two kids, so that is 2.5 pieces of Lego per child, per year in my house. The latest Statistics Canada data available (2006) tells me there are 3,889,305 kids between the ages of 5 and 14 in Canada. So; assuming 2.5 pieces of Lego are done away with per child, we are looking at 9,723,262.5 pieces of Lego vacuumed up every year in Canada!

Almost 10 million pieces of Lego are vacuumed or swept per year!!! What does this mean for our collective pocketbooks? Well, each 1 x 1 square of Lego weighs approximately .55 grams (0.2 of an ounce). Most vacuum cleaners can handle a 1 x 1 square without too much complaint. I have a Dyson, which will suck the white off rice; so it can devour 2 x 2 bricks with ease, but I digress. I have done the math so you don’t have to. We, as Canadians suck up 5,348 kilograms (11,790 pounds) of Lego yearly. A quick trip to eBay told me that the going price for used Lego is about $6.83 US per pound (averaged over 9 completed listings). That is over $80,000 US dollars that we squander away collectively in Canada on this innocuous,  plastic brick!

Our neighbor to the south has many, many more professional messmakers. According to 2009 US Census data, there are 40,934,306 kids between the ages of 5 and 14 in the United States. American families vacuumed up 102,335,765 pieces of Lego in 2009! Assuming  1 x 1 squares (at 0.2 of an ounce) were the nasty little culprits, 123,827 pounds (give or take) were vacuumed up in the United States in 2009 representing over $845,738 US dollars worth of Lego.

Food for thought….

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Harbour Porpoise in Denmark; photo credit Erik Christensen

The main difference between a dolphin and a porpoise is size; porpoises are generally smaller, reaching a length of up to 2.5 metres. The smallest dolphin, the Maui Dolphin, reaches just 1.2 metres. The largest member of the dolphin family is the Killer Whale or Orca, that can be up to 9.5 metres long. The Orca, although called a whale is actually a member of the order Cetacea, which includes dolphins and porpoises.

Porpoises have a triangular dorsal fin, whereas dolphins’ dorsal fins are more hooked shaped. Porpoises also have flattened, spade shaped teeth, whereas dolphins’ teeth are conical in shape. Porpoises’ heads are more blunt and less rounded than dolphins’ heads. Porpoises also have a stouter, more compact body shape.

Porpoises are less adaptable to captivity than their dolphin or orca cousin; so you won’t find many in public aquariums. There are however, more endangered or threatened species of dolphins than there are of porpoises. The Vaquita porpoise, native to the Northern California coast is endangered; with as few as 100 left in the world. Both the Ganges and the Yangtze River Dolphins are Critically Endangered or Functionally Extinct – no individual Yangtze River Dolphins have been documented. If an animal if Functionally Extinct, there are either: no individuals found, or the ones in existence are too advanced in age to be viable reproductive specimens.

Ganges River Dolphin Photo Courtesy of worldwildlife.org

The Ganges River Dolphin is actually one of two subspecies of the South Asian River Dolphin. The other is the Indus River Dolphin. These two dolphins have not interbred in many hundreds, and possibly thousands of years. The Indus River dolphin may have as few as 1000 individuals. The Ganges River Dolphin may have a couple thousand individuals; but there habitat is extremely threatened with dam building projects and pollution.

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