Compare it with being dead

I’ve overheard someone comparing washable diapers with the non-reusable ones. One supposed to be environment friendly and the other less so.

In the comparison the washable diapers were almost free from all environmental damage. Which would obviously only be true if you skipped the washing bit of the reuse.

If you haven’t heard of the Penny lick ice cream glasses: in the 1800s London, one happy customer would get their ice cream, lick the glass clean and return it to the vendor, who would refill it and give it to the next customer. Apart from being yuuuck, this is perhaps the best way to spread tuberculosis, which the Penny lick did very well on until it was banned in 1899.

Don’t skip the washing bit when reusing a diaper, it’s super-ill-advised.

However, washing a reusable diaper makes the whole thing very unfriendly to the environment. When you compare the two options, apples-to-apples, you’re only choosing between the lesser of two evils.

This was a cafe chat that I’ve overheard and this is a Friday morning, so clearly we are not expecting scientific evidence. Also, I love when something is environment friendly and I’m on the same side: I too want the reusable stuff to win. But, for a mathematician, it’s nice to have the facts straight.

People don’t cheat when comparing stuff on purpose, and I’m certainly no exception. Humans are generally not good at rational reasoning.

Like now, I want to think that all this cappuccino will disappear if I swim for an hour. Sports are a great way to burn a gazillion calories.

Do you know how many calories would I burn simply standing still instead of swimming? Surprisingly, still quite a lot. Simply living-and-breathing consumes almost the same amount of calories as swimming for the same period, the difference is only some 20%.

Turns out that people mostly compare calorie consumption during sports with: being dead.