Sep 16, 2013

Biodegradable Bird Feeder Project

Image: Daily Messes
You find yourself walking in the countryside eating a piece of fruit and when you're finished you can see no bins around to get rid of the core or the peel. You think about putting it in your pocket, maybe wrapping it in some old tissue and then you realize - "Hey, I'm in the countryside. This is biodegradable" and you toss it under the nearest tree for some small woodland creature to feast upon. In the absence of said small woodland creature, the fruit will just simply decompose and return nutrients to the earth and support a new generation of growth.

But here's a question. Is this considered littering?


Technically, it is.

Let's imagine you are sitting in your car. Stuck in traffic and hungry. You remember you have an orange or a banana in your bag so you begin to peel it and then you throw the peel out the window because "hey...it's biodegradable". If this was considered socially acceptable, let's say in the same way that certain people who throw cigarette butts on the ground are largely ignored by almost every single person passing them, then our city streets would look like a compost heap.

So what we do instead?

We throw our biodegradable waste into biodegradable bags and wait for bin men to come and take it away. Hurrah!

It's so simple.

But how long does it take biodegradable bags to decompose?

"Biodegradable plastics take three to six months to decompose fully. That’s much quicker than synthetic counterparts that take several hundred years. Exactly how long a biodegradable bag takes to break down depends on various factors, such as temperature and the amount of moisture present. But the bags aren’t always as environmentally friendly as they seem. They’re made from similar petrochemical-based materials to conventional plastic, only with compounds added that cause them to disintegrate gradually in the presence of light or oxygen. They often then degrade into a sludge of toxic chemicals. Bioplastics made of cornstarch and other plant-based materials are a better bet. They give off CO2 as they decompose, but they’re merely expelling carbon locked in by the plant matter that originally formed them. The net effect on the environment is therefore close to zero."

                                                                  Submitted by Jack Serle - for FOCUS science and technology

If you also take a look at some of the items that we place in these biodegradable bags and how long they take to decompose (ie: Paper Towel - 2-4 weeks. Banana Peel - 3-4 weeks. Apple Core - 2 months. Orange peels - 6 months. Cigarette Butts - 10-12 years) it's not such a simple solution. Just a convenient one.

So I'm a real sucker for any idea that can reduce the amount of waste that we expel on to the World and has the added benefit of having another use. So when I saw this idea for a biodegradable bird feeder over at Daily Messes I knew I'd found another reason, adding to the countless other reasons, in which to drive my wife insane by saving all my orange peels instead of binning them...like normal people!

Jump over to Daily Messes to check out the list of supplies needed.

Image: A Nurse that Knits
Image: Angela Mabray
Image: Rhythm Of The Home

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