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Incredible facts about international shipping

by Roderick MacLeod | Sep 07, 2015
  • International shipping is something we all rely on but don’t often think about. In this article we’ve collected some incredible facts about freight shipping to help shed light on this under-appreciated but vital industry.
  • Shipping

    90% by sea

    Rose George in her book Ninety Percent of Everything reveals that over 90% of everything we buy is brought to us thanks to international shipping. The clothes on your back, the fuel in your car; even the food on your plate, nearly all of it has arrived thanks to shipping.

    How many rubber ducks would a ship ship, if ships only shipped rubber ducks?

    The average freighter carries 3,500 containers and one container can hold – give or take – 99,466 rubber ducks and there are at least 20 million containers on various ships on the ocean at any given time. Thus if the world only produced and shipped rubber ducks, the international fleet would be transporting 17,313,715,000,356 duckies right now.

    Bang, zoom! Almost to the moon

    In a typical year, a container ship travels the equivalent distance of three quarters of the way to the moon.

    Green(ish) shipping

    The 15 biggest ships in 2009 gave off the same amount of greenhouse gasses as 760 million cars. However, George points out in her book:

    “Sending a container from Shanghai to Le Havre (France) emits fewer greenhouse gases than the truck that takes the container on to Lyon.”

    So, while it’s not great for the environment, it is the greenest method of cargo transport per mile, per ton we have. Still, if the entire shipping industry was considered as a country, it would be the sixth most polluting nation.

    Travel the world

    If you have ever wanted to travel the seven seas but have neither a private yacht, nor the stomach for a cruise liner packed with pensioners and screaming children, there is another way.

    You can travel the world on container ships for a reasonable price. Check out the Cruise People if you want to book a voyage around the world on a massive freighter for a truly extraordinary adventure.


    Shipping crews are 98% male and one-third of the entire work force are men from the Philippines.

    If you need to move goods internationally 1st Contact shipping can help you out. We can give a shipping quote here, or you can fill in this contact form and we’ll get back to you.

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