This post was published in December 2008 and may contain facts or opinion that are no longer current.

Rubber for Thought

Chiswick Road

Here’s something to consider (especially at this time of year, with oodles of cards being sent by post): Royal Mail tend to wrap their post bundles with red rubber bands, a fact which won’t be news to most people who live in London. Mainly because they drop them all over the damn road.

The map portion to the right is of a road just near where I live. The pink highlighted part is about 200 metres long, and on average I guess you’d expect to see maybe two or three rubber bands on a road that size; I certainly did this morning, but people can correct me if I’m wrong. On the map below, the same distance is highlighted again… so, extrapolating the data, we might expect to see perhaps thirty or fourty discarded on the pavement in an area the size of this map. That’s a guess, and in my mind it’s on the low side.

Barnes, west London

Fine, that’s all well and good. Except the map extract below shows how small that part of London is. Here it is in comparison to most of west London:

West London

For the record, you can fit about 250 of the small pink rectangles in that map (as long as my Maths ability hasn’t totally left me). Does this mean that there could be 7,500 in west London? I’m doing the sums logically (as far as I can tell), but I don’t believe the numbers. Help me out here if I’m doing something ridiculous.

A bit of crappy weighing suggests that these bands are about half a gram each. 7,500 per day in one part of London suggests somewhere round 3.5 kilograms of rubber. Three and a half kilograms of rubber a day? I wonder whether they pick them up…

In case you think I’m making a massive deal out of nothing, take a look at this Times Online article from January 2006.


By John Harvey on 22 December 2008 at 19:16:

That sounds about right :(

Every rubber band in our house has been recovered from the road, and you normally see two or three wherever the postman has stopped with his cart.

I do like “make them easier for postmen to spot and pick up when dropped”. Is that a joke? As friendly as my postman is, I’m not sure he drops them by accident.

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From 03PM on Monday December 22, 2008

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