Failure and Bottled Water


It’s no secret that we love Fail Blog (G-rated version here), because they have posts like this:

fail owned pwned pictures

And this:
fail owned pwned pictures
(Although this sign really makes me love New Cuyama.  Who else puts random addition on their City Sign?    New Cuyama is about 40 miles due north of Santa Barbara, and I totally want to visit there now.)

Fail Blog also posts signs like this:
fail owned pwned pictures

This last post actually made me pause for a while.  Yes, the 167 bottles was clearly wrong, but working backwards suggests that this sign intended to say that Americans drank 50 billion bottles of water in 2006, that 32% (16 billion) were recycled, and the remaining 68% (34 billion) ended up in the landfill.  And that just seemed wrong.  There are about 300 million people in the United States [assuming that Americans refers to the single country and not all of North or South America], so that would means that in 2006 there were over 160 bottles of water sold per person.  And that couldn’t be right, could it?

Actually, it could.  According to the Beverage Marketing Company, there were over 8.7 billion gallons of bottled water sold in the US in 2007.   If there are 16 oz. of water per bottle, then each gallon would give 8 bottles, leading to well over 60 billion bottles of water sold in 2007, which is in the same ballpark as above.  Who knew?

(This reminds me of Chris Jordan’s photographs.  And lo, it turns out he has one of bottles, partway down the page.)

4 Responses to “Failure and Bottled Water”

  1. Barry Leiba Says:

    A town in Colorado also does the population+elevation addition. It’s not a “fail”, though; it’s silly, and meant to be. It’d be a “fail” if they added wrong.

    And I didn’t have to pause at all on the bottled water item: my brain automatically added “per capita; duh”[1] after the 167 as soon as I read it. Pretty amazing, eh? And you must have had 334, because I didn’t have any.[2]
    [1] Yes, the “duh” was included.

    [2] I know it’s not just you, and that “my” 167 were distributed among everyone. It was sillier this way.

  2. Ξ Says:

    Barry, I didn’t even put together that the 167 must be the “just over 160” bottles that I got in my calculations. I’m glad to have figured that out!

    I only drank a few bottles, so I think someone else got about 163 of mine. (I suppose that people who only drink bottled water go through several bottles a day, so it wouldn’t be surprising for a single person to have over 1000. I suspect that the standard deviation is really high here.)

  3. HyperHacker Says:

    I might drink 4-5 per day, as I’ve found a particularly cheap source. :-p

    My first thought was they meant to write 167 billion, but I didn’t bother to check if that made the math work.

  4. Andrew Says:

    167 x 300,000,000 = 50,100,000,000

    The sign was meant to read as 167 per American. Which would equal (give or take) about 50 billion nationwide, and fit right in line with the math.

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