Mr Paul Brown’s cat defecated an elastic band. Mr Brown found it in his cat’s litter tray. His cat had eaten it but fortunately it had passed through his body into the litter tray. It could have been a different story and cost a large vet bill at best.
“…Rubber bands – the strangest place I found one was in the cat litter, in the cat’s sh*t. He’d eaten it and fortunately it came out again. I threw that one away…”
You might think that this was a one-off event. It might not because the potential for it happening again is very prevalent in the UK. This is because postman have the highly irritating habit of throwing away elastic bands onto the ground. They could be on the forecourt of homes at which they have delivered mail order or on the sidewalk or indeed anywhere where they carelessly discard them.
Mr Brown is livid:
“It boils my piss. STOP DROPPING RUBBER BANDS ROYAL MAIL.”
I can confirm, living in the UK, that elastic bands are everywhere on the street. It is not that you see them all over the place but you frequently encounter them on the pavement (sidewalk). Often they are red in color. The Royal Mail say that they are biodegradable and will biodegrade within one year of being exposed to the environment. This is not a good excuse.
Mr Brown has picked up 10,000 elastic bands in the past six years (see photo above). It is illegal in the UK to drop litter on the ground and there is an £80 fine (USD$102). Therefore the elastic bands that Mr Brown has picked up represents an £800,000 fine to the Royal mail.
Of course they have not been fined but they should be. Mr Brown thinks that postal workers are lazy and thoughtless. Elastic bands could be reused and it is worth noting that the Royal Mail say that they use 338 tonnes of elastic bands every year. Therefore if they kept them and reused them more often they could save a lot of money.
In defence, the Royal Mail say that they are doing their best to raise awareness amongst employees to reuse elastic bands. They ran a high-profile campaign last year on the negative impacts of littering. They ask their postmen and women to return all elastic bands to the delivery office for reuse.
Bearing in mind the number of elastic bands on the streets of the UK they are also a hazard to wildlife. Hedgehogs can get caught up in them and can’t free themselves. They can kill hedgehogs, said Mr Brown.
Almost all domestic cats in the UK are free-roaming. Many live in the urban environment. They no doubt encounter elastic bands on their travels! I’m not saying that domestic cats are particularly attracted to elastic bands and like eating them but cats are inquisitive and often nibble objects such as cotton thread. Elastic bands are potential hazard and the Royal Mail need to do more to protect animals and the environment.