The Un-Facts of Life: Slipping on the Statistical Banana Peel

We eat an average of 100 bananas a year, per person.  Over a typical lifespan, that means we eat 8,000 bananas.  The average banana is about 8 inches long, so that’s basically a length of bananas that is almost exactly 1 mile long.  Almost 1 mile exactly.  And that is where this starts.  With 1 mile.

I sneezed twice on Saturday, once during dinner at a friend’s house.  Everyone stopped and looked at me, so I wondered how often we sneeze.  On average we sneeze 20 times a week, which means we sneeze 60,000 times in our life.  We sneeze when when we’re alone, when we’re in company, when we’re sitting in bed reading.  Whenever.

And on that note, in an average lifetime, it’s said that we read under 100 books.  I’ve read more than that, and I’m sure you have too.  Because I’ve sat in bed reading books and sneezing many a time, and sometimes I’ve even done so while chewing on a banana.

But there are other things we can do in bed.  The average male loses his virginity at 17; the average female at about the same age.  Women have an average of 4 sex partners in their lifetime, men have 7.  So how did the average man find extra partners like that when the average woman doesn’t want them?

We produce 10,000 gallons of saliva in a lifetime.  That either does or does not have anything to do with the above point.

Have a look at this:

If we work 8.8 hours/day and sleep 7.7 hours/day, that leaves 7.5 hours for The Other Stuff.  I’m always curious about The Other Stuff.  If we have children, we have less time for them than for any other main activity; we spend four times more time with our co-workers than we do with our children.  So what exactly is a family these days?  By the time you get home, you’ve got maybe 2 hours a day left for the kids.  And of the non-work hours, you’re going to spend an average of 4 of those hours per day watching TV, so that’s not necessarily quality time with the little ones.

You might take 70,000,000 steps in your lifetime.  I hope some of these steps are with our kids, outside, in the rain or the snow, in whatever weather our world is going to throw at us.

But when you’re not walking, you’re driving.  And you’re going to drive 650,000 miles in your lifetime, and use 32,000 gallons of gasoline.  Every gallon is going to emit 9 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so that’s almost 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide in your lifetime just from driving.  We complain about carbon taxes and greenhouse gas credits, but at the voluntary market price of credits in North America, the extra cost applied to those 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide is about $150.  That’s how much we value the effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

We will drink 15,000 gallons of water in a lifetime.  An Olympic-sized swimming pool is 600,000 gallons (40 times what you drink), but you’re going to shower 30,000 times in your life and that will take 700,000 gallons, which is basically that swimming pool.  So the water that washes over your body as you shower could provide enough drinking water for nearly 50 people.

This is a sunset.  This is Mars.

This is a sunset. This is Mars.

In your life:

You’re going to go through 10 washing machines and 8 microwaves but 15 computers.

You’re going to use 200 toothbrushes.

You’re going to eat 2.5 tonnes of beef (that’s 4 full cows).

You’re going to produce 200 kilograms of banana peel, which could make 70 kilograms of compost if you let it.

You’re going to fly in the sky 40 times.

You’re going to own 12 cars.

You’re going to live in 10 homes.

You’re going to die once.

And you’re going to get in a car crash every 18 years.  The insurers know this.  They keep track.  Driving is the most dangerous activity you do, by far, on an everyday basis.  And you do it while eating.  Talking on the phone.  Texting.  Applying make-up.  Falling asleep.

And listen.  9,000,000 children under five die every year in developing countries.  That’s 3.4 x 10^12 hours those kids won’t spend with their 3 kids if they’d had them.  That’s untold gallons of water and puffs of diesel fume that aren’t necessary.  That’s a trillion trillion dreams that won’t come true.  And yes, none of our first world problems and statistics really cover these children.  They are left to lie quite quietly in whatever dusty stretch of land that we can find.

Speaking of first-world statistics, the average family size is 3 kids, and that is the hopeful part of everything, because you’re going to try like hell to raise them right so that they can save the world.  Our kids are going to have it worse than us, no doubt.  They will.  But does it really seem like they will make wars to the extent that we have?  That they will stop caring about our planet or about people in other countries?  That they won’t learn anything from us?  I don’t think so.  I think our kids can get away with eating only 1 cow in their lifetime, using only 10,000 gallons of gasoline, watching only 1 hour of TV a day.  They might even be okay with showering less so that someone somewhere can actually have a drink of water that won’t make them sick.

But they can sneeze all they want.

And writers.  An average of 1,500 words a day written over 40 weeks a year, 5 days a week, a 40-year writing lifetime, that’s 12,000,000 words total.  And that means I just used 0.0082% of my allocation writing this.  That seems so small.

And as for bananas… Tropical Race strains are out there (, and we don’t know if there will be bananas for our descendants.  Imagine that, whole generations born without bananas, kids who grow up not knowing that there was once a fruit that came with its own, easy-to-remove, biodegradable packaging that didn’t require one ounce of fossil fuel to create.



Quite a number of the estimates used for this post came from here:


260 thoughts on “The Un-Facts of Life: Slipping on the Statistical Banana Peel

  1. Hmph. I tried to leave a comment on the first iteration, and then it got eaten. I shall try again.

    There are some of us that screw up the bell curve.
    (And because of that, we’ll have to write an instructional fuck menu)
    I hear you, Lewin. I know you have something to say.
    I will be brave: posts like this aren’t my cup of tea. It’s not that it’s poorly written, per se, it’s that you sound distant. Like you’re tired and frightened, but mostly tired.
    Chin up, old chap. We’ll get through this.

  2. I don’t think I’ll use my allotment of flying allowance. Hopefully my children will make a positive difference in the world.
    A world without bananas … I don’t think I like that. Figuratively or literally

  3. There you go, getting all cerebral. I thought that was supposed to be my job. You done good, pard.
    Being typically human, I’m on my way to Walmart to buy up all the bananas and bottled water they have so my great-great grand-kids can have some…and on one else. There is so much so wrong and so true in that last sentence.

    • I know, I thought my job was to be inflammatory and vague and all fiction-oriented… which really is what my job is. Making stories. But sometimes other things leak out.

      Cerebral might be the wrong word for a loose collection of stats that can be challenged pretty easily. But I do happen to like numbers.

  4. What’s the average for car accidents? Because I really want to stay on the right of that bell curve, but I’ve been slacking lately, what with not driving for my commute.

  5. I seem to be going about life all wrong according to the statisticians. I do like me some bananas, though.

    I remember reading (or maybe hearing) somewhere that bananas could be used as the perfect means of delivering medicines to children in third world countries.

    Those kids can’t catch any f***ing breaks, can they?

    • Yup, first we don’t send them any medicines, and then we take away the delivery device for the medicines if we did feel like sending them. Some day soon, someone will use the excuse of “no bananas left” to justify not doing anything. All those wasted banana hooks… what a shame.

  6. Wow! That’s a lot of numbers. They are all dancing in front of my eyes. Some are mocking me. I know I used up my quota of sneezes by the time I was 17. It makes me very sad that there will be children who will never know a banana. I don’t have children so I messed up that number as well, but I am sad for everyone else’s children.

  7. I’ve got the average banana eater beat by the significant margin. Have a banana almost every morning. The only time I don’t is when the ones on the counter have finally reached the stage of overripe that leads me gagging if I try to eat them.

    Liked this though … all those statistics mean nothing. It’s about the kids and our undying hope for the future.

  8. If there are no bananas there goes my favourite knock knock joke
    knock knock
    who’s there?
    banana who?
    knock knock
    who’s there?
    banana who!?
    knock knock
    who is there??
    orange who?
    Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

    Oh the things we do to make our children crazy 🙂

  9. Dude, I think I drank 15,000 gallons of water last year alone.
    And I know I’ve flown at least 20-25 times in any given year, so my carbon footprint is horrific. Basically I’m the devil.

  10. Fun stuff Trent. Love the post title. Your versatility is unique. Not everyone can have so many voices.
    According to these statistics, I am the whore that I already knew I was.
    And I got a banana with your name all over it.

  11. I did a post like this called: Fun With Numbers… except mine added up all the hours we spend sitting on a toilet, stuck in traffic, watching TV commercials, working, shaving, stuff like that, and then compared it to the number of times we fall in love and get told we are doing good at work… so… uh… oh, and I eat a banana almost every morning now… so once again, I am a statistical freak of nature…

  12. One of the many reasons I won’t have kids and I try not to watch too much TV. Time is of the essence to write/blog/read/explore. 🙂 First world statistics are particularly disturbing in that they show how much time is used uselessly by most people. Interesting and scary.

    • Yup, we spend a lot of time on strange stuff, Sara. Our first-world problems are a bit off-side.

      Got to say, my kids are a reason for writing, for me. They give me some pretty endless inspiration. But they also do take time, no doubt there.

  13. This was fun/fascinating/disturbing reading, Trend. 100 books in a lifetime is seriously depressing — so says this banana lover. But do you know how many people slip on a banana peel in their lifetime?????????

    • That is a stat I haven’t seen before… honestly, I barely need a banana peel to help me slip.

      My seven-year-old has read more than 100 books I think. I can’t understand how people could have read less than this.

  14. Bananas aren’t the only food we’ll need to worry about if our honeybees become extinct. We’ll all be subsisting on wheat and corn and soy. And what about peak oil, which most experts believe we will very soon reach (if we haven’t already)? I actually don’t think you sound tired or scared. I think you sound realistic. Unfortunately, I believe your warning call is a few decades too late.

    • More than likely, Miranda. I think there are some good minds working in correcting things, but the competing interests create a real problem. There’s still hope. But I think it’s our kids’ generation that is going to have to figure this out… or the one after that.

  15. Yes. I just feel a tad overwhelmed by all these stats and we make such poor choices. You can’t go wrong with a banana fe fi fo fanna though, can you? I better get back to writing.

  16. Oooh, numbers! (FYI, “Every gallon is going to emit 9 kg of carbon dioxide” – 0.9 kg, you mean? Sorry, when I read numbers, there is a reasonability audit going on in my head)
    Also, an explanation for why men have 7 partners while women have 4 is that men tend to exaggerate the number of their sexual partners while women tend not to. (That’s assuming that the partners are of opposite gender – if not, that’s another explanation)

    • The 9 is right. It’s stochiometric in terms of the combustion equation. A certain amount of liquid diesel produces extra moles of CO2 during the combustion process.

      X, only you would come up with a good explanation for that. I was trying to work it out mathematically by the number of men versus women in the developed world, but that wasn’t working… I like your explanation way better.

      • You’re right, I forgot that CO2 is mostly oxygen by weight. And gasoline is mostly carbon. So 9kg sounds right. And according to my calculations, it means that every week, my commute to work and back releases about my body weight in CO2. Wow.

        • This brings into play the biogenic argument. The reason that your bodyweight of CO2 is bad is because it stems from a thermogenic source. Fossil fuel exposes a carbon source that would never have had the chance to be emitted in that form were it not for human activity. But if we replaced your gasoline with some kind of biofuel, say from a vegetable product, you would still emit the same quantity of carbon dioxide (or thereabouts), but the carbon that made the plants is sequestered from the atmosphere. So burning it just sends it back up into the atmosphere, and it becomes a cycle.

          This totally ignores the fact that we might need fossil fuel to grow our vegetable feedstock and to transport and process it, but it’s probably better than burning deep deposits of old dinosaurs.

  17. I eat a banana with my cold cereal approximately 4x a week for a total of 208 a year, leaving behind me a banana trail of almost 2 miles. But on the other hand, I sleep than 7.7 hours a night, I drive fewer miles than most (walk and take public transit, mostly), therefore I consume less gas. But I have flown many more times than 40. I have probably gone through more than 15 computers, but fewer washing machines and microwaves than 10 and 8, respectively. 12 cars? 10 homes? Probably. And as far as having sexual partners, who’s counting?

    So am I a conspicuous consumer, a greenhouse gas contributor, or a good citizen?

    Fascinating post, Trent. I enjoy seeing how far off from average I actually am.

  18. wow, you’re just a hairy ass gorilla…. I eat like one banana a month. I have driven over a million miles, though, due to a few jobs I’ve had, and roadtripping across the US and back like 5 times. I also take half hour showers, and am the reason there are children dying of thirst. sorry, but it’s my one indulgence.. I go until the hot water runs out, which probably raises my carbon footprint, along with flying probably 50 times in my life… damn, it’s a good thing I compost and recycle!! I just realized I’m going directly to hell for killing the planet and a million other people! I am on a well, tho, so I think that gives me a pass… but with my allergies I used to sneeze around 60 times in a row, several times a day before I moved here, so I made up for the water use by supplying mounds of snot!!! Thirsty???

  19. You should have used a banana instead of a cat on that other post…I wouldn’t be bothered in the least about a banana being eaten in the elevator.

  20. I’m just back from a holiday. We went to a “dude” ranch to ride horses. One evening, the entertainment was a magician. He pulled me on stage. I gave him a $20 bill. Some comedy ensued. The pretty assistant brought out a banana. I pealed it, bit into it and there was my $20.

    I have always been amazed that I can get a lovely banana–a tropical fruit–in the middle of February in the middle of Manhattan. That’s just the best thing ever to me.

  21. I didn’t read the other comments because I’m on my phone and it won’t let me so someone might have said this already buuuut…

    I’m wondering about the sexual partners statistic. It doesn’t make sense to me. There’s a popular theory around the “rule of 3” that basically says men and women lie about how many partners they’ve had. You multiply a woman’s figure by three and divide a guy’s by three.

    • Yeah, as X says in here somewhere, it’s likely the reporting that’s the problem. I don’t know if the exaggerations are as bad as you indicate, but they’re probably pretty difference. The math just doesn’t add up…

  22. I’m surprised people only read 100 books, this is interesting stuff. I don’t understand how men have 7 partners and women 4, shouldn’t it sort of be even on average, like who are all these women the men are sleeping with?

    • Well, they could be men I guess… that would even things out.

      I think there’s a large majority of people who have read less than 100 books. Doesn’t make much sense. I’ve read what feels like thousands.

      • Yeah from the moment I learned to read I was like ‘oh my god this is the best thing ever!’ I read less now because I let myself get distracted by the net too much, but is still love reading. By the way did you work out those mile of banana statistics yourself!

    • Right? I think I read 100 books before I got to jr high!

      Honestly? I have no idea how many partners I have had..way more than 7 I know that much.

  23. This is fascinating! And depressing, kind of. But also uplifting : ) I was about to clamor that I don’t spend nearly 2.8 hours on leisure on a work day (and usually I don’t), but today I did, so I feel like I totally got away with something. Yay! I hope our kids solve the world’s problems and never run out of bananas. Also, I drink more than my share of water, but I’ll try to shower less to compensate…

  24. Oh no I am already on my 15th computer and am way past 10 Holmes, is this the beginning of my end or do you think I can manage another 5 PC’s. I guess smokers get through PC’s much quicker :D. when I worked for a computer repairer I found that the average PC was actually 7 years old, rather than the recommended 4-5 years, sorry i find average computer ages interesting. My least lived computer was about a year old and £1500 died in a thunderstorm 😦 thank god for insurance.

    Live long and prosper Trent.

    • You too Bruce. I buy Apple computers now, and they both seem to live forever and work so well that you don’t really notice when they get older. I wish I was like that…

  25. Steps taken, books read, miles driven, gas consumed, bananas eaten, words written… I’m bringing the average up on those stats.
    Hours slept? I’m bringing the average down on that one.
    And we don’t turn on the TV until the Little Prince is sleeping… and we know that can be a battle that rages long into the night.
    Some fun with numbers…
    Meant to help us see things a bit differently? Meant to stick in our minds and have us re-think some of our behaviors? Shower a little faster… Drive a little less… Actually pay attention while driving too… Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle… Take care of ourselves and our planet and our children’s futures all at the same time…

  26. You forgot to put in how much time one spends reading all the comments on your blog while eating bananas and ignoring their kids. But thanks to this, I have decided to start scheduling sneezes. I think it might be kind of fun to wait and sneeze out all my sneezes at Disneyland on Space Mountain. I think it would really add a lot. Both to the sneeze and to the ride.

  27. You can have my extra bananas if I can have more books. I’d ask for extra sleep, but I don’t even use all the time I have now. As for the 4 sex partners. Clearly…women are lying their (totally-doing-more) fucking asses off.

    • Who needs sleep when you could be eating cows or reading books? Or both together? Don’t tell me you’re another banana hater. I don’t get the banana dislike.

      Girls might be lying but I figure the guys are lying worse.

  28. Let’s not forget that the 7.5 hours left for other stuff still gets eaten up by work: you spend time getting ready in the morning, commuting, and then recovering from the workday. On the weekends, you get ready for the next workweek – grocery shopping, laundry, errands, etc.

    I like how you pulled the stats together to mean something. I already try to minimize my own personal impact on the environment and should probably do more, but I have full lives on Candy Crush so I should probably get back to that…

  29. I have to say my brain hurts a bit by all of these dizzying statistics. So informative and interesting. I love bananas. More so, I love the banana that is hanging from a noose. Is it morbid that I laughed out loud at the picture?

    I really like the “other time”. Though I wish we had more of that and less of “work time”.

  30. Whoa, stats. Such an interesting post Trent; you raised some really great points: ie, “So how did the average man find extra partners like that when the average woman doesn’t want them?” :’D

    • Hey thanks! I hadn’t thought about this one in a while, but I love me some stats. By the way, I can’t answer any of the questions I pose – kind of a cop out, eh?

              • I don’t feel that different from most other teenagers. I guess I just share my views and opinions in a more appropriate manner than most. As for the word “bugnuts”, that is one heck of a word.

              • I love that word… it conveys a lot by saying essentially nothing. I often say that my writing is bugnuts. I don’t know how to describe it. That said, I didn’t invent the word.

                Anyway, fantastic – I think you have some very insightful views. Forgive my lack of popping over to your site, I’m travelling like a bloody madman all over the place these days, but that shall end shortly.

              • No, but whoever did invent the word deserves some sort of recognition or appreciation for sure.

                Thank you. And no rush, I’ll always be here. At least, I’m not planning on going anywhere some time soon…

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