The parcel arrived at last. I’ve been waiting for some time to get my German language CDs. The size of the box promised an abundance of learning materials, though it did feel rather light.
When I unpacked it my expectations diminished as I removed each layer of packaging – some air-inflated plastic bags, two sheets of bubble wrap, a largish box covered with useful looking words and then inside this, another cardboard shape to keep the precious cargo from wobbling around too much. No book, which I’d hoped for. Just the CDs, and these were safely stored in a smart padded CD case.
Haven’t they heard of jiffy bags?
This is not the first time this has happened and I’m finding it increasingly disturbing. I appreciate the need to ensure an item reaches from A to B intact, but in trying to achieve this, why discard all common sense in the process?
I think of all the thousands parcels flying from one place to another on a daily basis. I think of all the packaging. Where is it all ending up?
I loved school dinners. It was in the days when the food was cooked in large metal dishes in big school kitchens and served up by dinner ladies with hairnet-like hats on their heads. Well, that’s how I remember it. At the end of the meal we all had to take our plates up to a table where there were two large, probably aluminium, bowls. One was for the cutlery and the other for the leftover food. I remember them because on one occasion I tipped my cutlery into the wrong bowl and watched my poor knife and fork slowly sink… I know that all this leftover food, hopefully with the cutlery removed, was then dispatched to a local pig farmer to feed the pigs.
I was reminded of this because just recently I interviewed a very elderly gentleman who once worked as a farm labourer on a farm on the South Downs. I asked him whether he remembered giving the pigs waste food and he told me how a lorry would go round the pubs and restaurants to pick up the waste food, bring it back to the farm and boil it up in huge tubs. It was then mixed with flour to stiffen it up and given to the pigs.
This practice has been banned for years now and it’s understandable because of the risks of spreading various diseases, but surely we are now scientifically adept enough to deal with this sort of problem?
I thought I’d just have a look and see if things were really as bad as I thought they were, when lo and behold, look what I found – http://thepigidea.org/
I have been making garden compost for as long as I can remember. It’s occasionally a bit lumpy, but after spreading it over the surface of the soil in the autumn, by the time spring comes it has made itself at home and kicks into action for the growing season.
But something odd has been happening over the last couple of years. I have spread out the compost in the normal way, but by the time spring arrives, the surface of the soil seems to be covered with something like fairy wings. Closer inspection has shown that these are not fairy wings, but PG Tips tea bags. Well, more like the ghosts of PG Tips tea bags. It’s normal to find the odd teabag partially intact, but not on the scale of an epidemic! I wrote to Unilver to ask what was going on, and this is their reply:
I can inform you that like most of the tea bags in the UK, PG tips tea bags are made with around 80% paper fibre which is fully compostable along with the tea leaves contained in the bag. The remaining packaging includes a small amount of plastic which is not fully biodegradable, this is needed to create a seal to keep the tea leaves inside the bag.
This now explains why I have so many tea bag ghosts spread over the garden.
The tea bags can be added to a compost bin and the majority of the bag will decompose quickly adding moisture and nitrogen. If people are worried about the small amount of material that is not fully compostable we would recommend removing the bag before putting the tea leaves on the compost. Tea bags CAN be composted/added to food waste collection and although there is a small amount of non-compostable material, this is not a problem.
Now hang on a minute, this all seems a bit murky to me. Either the tea bags are biodegradable or they’re not. If something is only partially biodegradable, then something else is going to be left hanging around afterwards, so what will happen to this? They say it isn’t a problem, but I disagree. Drip feeding plastic into the soil couldn’t possibly be a good thing.
You could say ‘what does it matter about a few old tea bags?’ and you might be right. Perhaps I’m just being petty…need to get a life… But wait a minute – multiply the tea bags in my garden by all the thousands of other tea drinking composters who have them floating over the surface of their gardens as well – and what then?