Saturday, December 10, 2005

Stamping out waste

The Royal Mail has announced that it is going to raise the price of its First Class stamps again.

My son made a catapult out of two toilet roll cardboard tubes.

What have the two in common? The humble elastic band.

Son had collected two tubes. He asked for Mummy's help to make two diametrically opposite holes near the rim of the first tube. He cut up an elastic band, threaded it through these holes and stretched the elastic band across, and taped the ends of the band down the outside of the tube.

The second tube he cut right down the side and snipped off a piece of it and joined it up together again with tape to turn it into a narrower tube. He then cut notches on diametrically opposite sides of one rim. This second (now) narrower tube is pushed, notched rim end first, into the first wider tube against the stretched elastic band. The notches in the inner tube ensures that the elastic band on the outer tube is properly engaged. He turns it over on the floor to get a grip on both tubes, turns it back up again, aims and lets go. Son has made himself a very respectable catapult. Quite a feat for a five-and-a-half-year-old.

Then, disaster. The elastic band broke.

Never mind, Daddy will bring home an elastic band from the office.

Next day, after dropping him off at school, Mummy noticed elastic bands on the pavement on her walk home. She picked one up for him. His face lit up when he saw the elastic band when he came home.

These bands have been abandoned by Royal Mail staff delivering post. Letters are often bundled together to make it easier for post workers to handle, but once the mail is delivered, they just drop these bands on the ground.

Then Mummy and son started noticing more and more red elastic bands on the pavement. Today we counted 23 down one side of our road as we walked to the bus stop to get to the library, and 25 up the other side when we came home. Forty-eight elastic bands on our one road alone.

How many elastic bands are our postal workers throwing away every day on their rounds up and down the country? How much money is the Royal Mail spending on the purchase of these red elastic bands every day? In other words, how much money are postal workers throwing away every day, literally?

How much money could the Royal Mail save if these bands were collected and re-used instead of having them strewn all over our streets by their staff, thereby saving us Royal Mail users from another round of stamp price rise?

My Mama taught me how to: waste not, want not.

Back to Organic-Ally.

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