GRUMPY OLD BIRDER
Bo Boelens says too much consumer goods packaging is damaging for our birds
The other day, I bought what I thought was an ordinary box of tissues at the supermarket. It turned out, when unpacked from my ‘bag for life’, that there were in fact two smaller boxes with a plastic wrapper holding them together, presumably for some buy-one-getone-free offer. When unwrapped, with the lid punched in to get at the tissue, I found that the hole is surrounded by a redundant soft plastic inset. While I was at the supermarket, the postman had delivered a padded package containing a book. The book had a protective covering, despite the fact that the envelope was padded with plastic bubbles too. (Note to all bookstores and publishers of, in particular natural history books: post books out in cardboard or ‘Jiffy Bags’ that are padded with flocking). Why would a birding magazine column be taken up with a rant about packaging? You may well ask. Well, it’s because we’re squandering the future and today’s wealth on unnecessary and potentially dangerous packaging. Plastics now line the alimentary canals of half the creatures swimming in, or under, the ocean, or those flying above it. Nylon cord, fishing nets and fishing line may make quite good nesting No one wants to see this! A Puffin with discarded human waste no harm. Polystyrene cups, plastic bottles and a myriad of assorted plastic junk is, when intact, a hazard for thousands of years, and an unwanted dietary supplement when it finally disintegrates. We treated ourselves to a new ‘smart’ TV for Christmas, and recycled our old TV to the wall of a relative. The box for the new one went with it, including huge polystyrene packing, plastic ties and baggies. But it doesn’t have to be like that, the last electrical item I bought used nothing but cleverly folded cardboard to do the job. None of the above is really for my, or your convenience, it’s all about storage and display. Where do we start to fight back? The obvious answer is birdfeed. I buy my seed in paper sacks, but fat-balls seem now only to be sold in a plastic sleeve, a plastic bucket or a plastic tub. Put pen to paper and demand less packaging in birdfeed, and refuse to buy anything unless it is in nonplastic, recyclable containers. We do not have to be slaves to packaging any more than we have to put up with wonderful wildlife TV having to be completely ruined by unnecessary and over loud background music… but that’s another story.
Nylon cord, fishing nets and fishing line may make quite good nesting material, but it is equally good for slowly sawing through an entangled leg or gill
Bo Beolens runs fatbirder.com and other websites. He has written a number of books