Band aid?

It’s fascinating where one little brown coloured elastic band – dropped in a pedestrian lane in Lower Swainswick – can lead you.

I am assuming – and perhaps l shouldn’t – that it  (along with another band lying nearby) may have been dropped by a postman or woman in the course of delivering our mail.

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Discarded rubber bands – an all too familiar sight.

My assumption is purely based on other elastic bands l have found in the past along the pavement serving the terrace of houses in our street.

The discarded bands are in perfect working order and – having served their original purpose in bundling mail together –  have been dropped and are now classified as litter.

It’s a problem l discovered that is forever making headlines in the national press.

According to just one article in the Daily Telegraph l found – written back in 2011 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/royal-mail/8335555/Red-rubber-band-litter-costing-Royal-Mail-2840-a-day.html – Royal Mail ‘shelled out £1.04 million on 760 million bands in 2009/10 compared to £749,583 on 753 million in 2005/6.’

In recent years the charity Keep Britain Tidy has urged the company to cut down on their use which – they say – if discarded are not only an eyesore but a threat to wild animals which can choke on them.

Research by the organisation discovered that the items were found on eight per cent of streets surveyed. That’s more than the number affected by dog mess.

The Daily Telegraph article says: ‘In 2009, members of the public collected more than 13,000 of the bands from hedgerows, front gardens and pavements as part of a Keep Britain Tidy campaign which forwarded the pile to the Royal Mail.’

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An abandoned rubber band in our neighbourhood pedestrian walkway.

The company are on record as saying that it instructs staff to re-use and not abandon rubber bands but l cannot help wondering if there is a better incentive to bring into play here.

Why not offer a couple of pence bonus for every band returned to the sorting office. Over the course of a year, l am sure it would amount to a tidy sum. Or – if bands are returned – work out how much of a saving that is in the annual rubber band buying bill – and share out a dividend.

I know the Royal Mail tried out red coloured bands to make it more obvious if one is dropped but – it seems – that wasn’t as successful as the business had hoped.

Seems a financial incentive might be more successful than coloured bands – unless another way can be found for grouping mail together for delivery.

Our ‘posties’ do a great job in all weathers but need a gentle push here in the right direction.