GRUMPY OLD BIRDER

Bo Boe­lens says too much con­sumer goods pack­ag­ing is dam­ag­ing for our birds

Bird Watching (UK) - - News Wire -

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

HARM

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