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….