Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Elastic Bands

The other day one of my commenters mentioned that she picks up rubber bands (or elastic bands, as they're often called here in Britain) when she takes walks. Otherwise, she said, birds could mistake them for worms and eat them, with fatal results.

I'd heard of sea turtles mistakenly eating balloons, thinking they were jellyfish, but I'd never heard of this rubber band phenomenon. It filled me with dread because I see rubber bands all the time when I'm out walking the dog. I thought I'd pick some up, too.

(Coincidentally, I needed some rubber bands at work, so I could also put the ones I collected to use!)

On Sunday alone, I collected 32 of them. I think the mail carriers just toss them on the ground as they distribute the mail, which is banded together in the sorting process. I had so many that eventually I stopped picking them up, but I saw at least a dozen more. It's like trying to hold back the tides!

I have to hope that in London, our birds are smarter. Maybe they've evolved to differentiate between rubber bands and worms. Let's hope. Because this problem is beyond me.

On another ecological front, we are putting our new food recycling bin to use. It's not grossing me out so far.

Dave is sick again. The poor guy just cannot catch a break. I really think his surgery last year knocked his immune system out of whack. He's sniffling and has a fever of about 101º F. He called in a substitute teacher today -- he's staying in bed.

(Photo: Someone's tower of recycling, in West Hampstead.)


  1. I can see how this thing with the elastic bands can get to you. Luckily, it doesn't seem to be that big here. But reading about that whale that was found dead and its stomach filled with 30+ plastic bags makes me ill. So please go on and maybe tell your postman?
    Poor Dave! This winter has been tough or maybe the viruses are getting tougher. Look after him.

  2. I find rubber bands (not elastic bands) on the streets of Sheffield too. It is all down to postmen and postwomen (not mailmen or mailwomen). Of course the rubber bands become illegal litter as soon as they are dropped. I wonder if postal workers are ever urged by their managers to avoid dropping rubber bands? I might start a campaign. Forget Trumpism, this is more important!

    I hope Dave gets well soon.

  3. I have just sent this e-mail to the Keep Britain Tidy organisation:-

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am writing about a particular litter problem I have noticed on the streets of Britain - namely rubber bands. They are all over the place - thousands of them. And the main culprits are Royal Mail postal workers. Many of them casually drop the rubber bands which are used to bunch handfuls of mail together as they hurry along their rounds.

    Some people believe that the rubber bands could be mistaken by birds and other creatures for worms. In that sense they may be hazardous to wildlife. But the main point is that when dropped the rubber bands of course become illegal and unsightly litter.

    Has your organisation ever made overtures to Royal Mail to about this matter? Personally, I think that many postal workers need to be educated about litter and urged to simply pop the used rubber bands in their pockets. I hope you will try to pressure Royal Mail with the weight that Keep Britain Tidy enjoys. It will mean so much more than if I try to pressure them as an individual citizen.

    Yours truly,

    Yorkshire Pudding

  4. Gotta love Mr.Pud...Dave has my sympathies, I can't seem to get ahead of whatever this is either...

  5. I am sorry about Dave's illness and hope he recovers soon. Lots of sleep and fluids.
    I did not realize that rubber bands were such a problem. It seems ridiculous that the postpersons cannot just put them back in their mailbags after delivering the packets of mail. Recycle and re-use.

  6. "Because this problem is beyond me."
    I hear you.
    I wonder if Dave Sedaris is still picking up trash along the road where he lives.
    It may be that Dave's immune system is compromised but I tell you- my family has gotten one illness after another since last September. Just as everyone's about to recover from one virus, another strikes. It's ridiculous!
    I love Mr. P's letter. Good one.

  7. like trying to pick up all the cigarette butts. I just bought a new kitchen scraps container. the old one was too small. I picked up a really nice white enameled pot that is taller than it is wide and it is perfect. sorry to hear Dave is sick again. I worried the antibiotic I took when I gouged my leg would mess up my immune system so I got some probiotic yogurt.

  8. That is quite a tall tower of trash that someone has built. I like YP's letter too! Sorry to hear that Dave isn't feeling well again. I think teacher's get exposed to so many germs, it's easy for them to catch things.

  9. There's a worse thing than rubber bands...cigarette butts.

  10. I've never heard of that being a problem but it is good to know. The one that gets me is the snail pellets that people put out. The look like hay bits and birds eat them. Breaks my heart.

    Wishing Dave a big bounce back to health.

  11. The mail people are the biggest source of our errant rubber bands also! Some carriers are better about this than others. When our daughter lived at home she used to pick up as many as a dozen in a short walk - every single day. But I walk the same route now and don't find nearly as many. We always intended to write a letter to the post office now I can just print YP's and mail it off! (with a few changes I guess, to be Canadian) ...Rubber bands can also cause intestinal blockages in other wild animals and domestic pets, so take care Olga does not decide to dispose of yours ...

    I'm sorry to hear Dave is sick again. It's a bad time of year for viruses. My husband is currently down with what people here are calling the "hundred day cold" and I'm hoping not to catch it. Hope your husband is well soon.

  12. Here in Canada - or Saskatchewan, at least -- we just say "elastics."

    "Hand me that elastic."

    But rubber band and elastic band are said equally.


    "American Goldfinches" come to our yard in the summer. Looking forward to seeing your photos so I'll know if they're the same kind. I notice birds in England and here aren't the same; robins, for example, are a different bird over there.