Toilet Paper Tubes and the Empire State Building #wcydwt

So I’m watching the idiot tube the other day and I saw a commercial by Scott Paper Company that claimed that if everyone in America used their tubeless toilet paper product, then we would save two Empire State buildings of toilet paper rolls every year.

Two Empire State buildings of toilet paper tubes? Ok, here we go.

Information provided:

That’s it. Asked the geometry students what information they needed. They drove everything after. It was amazing luck to be right in the middle of the 3D, volume unit.
They asked for the following:

  • Height of empire state building? (you want that in ft or meters? they went for meters, thanks science class.)
  • Width of the empire state building? (also asked what shape the base was, yes!)
  • Diameter of toilet paper tube? (in inches or cm? They went for cm, and I was nice enough to encourage them to convert to meters first)
  • Height of toilet paper tube? (likewise in cm)

The talked about which was best for approximating the volume of the empire state building, they threw out a rectangular prism, and went with a square based prism.

… Yada, yada, yada.

They measured the volume of the empire state building to be 1,007,000 m^3 (google says the volume is 1,048,000 m^3)
WOW! Close.

And they also confirmed that it would take just over 2 empire state buildings to hold all the toilet paper tubes! Neat, so Scott’s marketing did their homework.

Side note, I am lucky enough to be friends with a Jim in a local paper company. He claims that the tubeless process cannot work with 100% recycled content, so this product is not a green as they claim. FYI.

Update (8/10/11): Found the following image on their website:

Censored Image for class:

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8 Responses to Toilet Paper Tubes and the Empire State Building #wcydwt

  1. Stacy says:

    This is great! I wouldn’t give them the number thrown away each year. I think those kinds of estimation problems (Fermi problems) are great things for kids to be exposed to. Ask them to do it as a warm-up before you introduce the problem at all.

  2. Dan Meyer says:

    Super fun, Dan. Any luck tracking that commercial down online?

  3. Mario says:

    I found this lego construction from the Empire State building.
    This is good for the motoric skills for your youngsters.
    Fave fun!

  4. Steve says:

    July 27, 2015 Another way of looking at it; 17 billion divided by the U.S. population of 325 million (United Nations estimate) equals more than one roll of TP per person per week!???

  5. Brenda Stokes says:

    VERRY INTERESTING, that’s a great commercial. and great insight. that’s for the info, it was a fun fact.

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