I have written many letters to manufactures, stockists and organisations that endorse these companies regarding the danger of mesh bags.
I received the first response back from Gardman today. Below I have copied their reply.
"Many millions of fat balls and other bird food products in mesh bags are sold every year and the number of incidents is incredibly small. Gardman and it's advisors, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), believe that the benefits of feeding fat balls in mesh bags far outweigh the very small number of incidents each year. If consumers are concerned about the very small risk of birds becoming trapped they can easily be removed from the mesh bags and placed in specific feeders or fed loose on a bird table or the ground. We do have a statement on our products saying the fat balls are best fed from a feeder and that the nets should be disposed of as soon as empty. We have also started selling tubs of fat balls without the nets and if this is the way consumers wish to go we will increase how many we sell in this format. I can assure you that Gardman and the BTO are very concerned about bird welfare and all of the comments received from consumers are passed on so that they can be considered at our yearly range review meetings".
A positive response from Bob Martin, I think.
Adding to Borderslass's first sentence, in English law "He who asserts must prove" Not an easy task I'm afraid.
As for transportation, there are several on-line retail suppliers of fat balls who sell them un-netted. My own local pet shop sells them without nets. The RSPB sells them without nets. How do the manufacturers who supply these firms transport them one wonders?
Well Sparrow that is the question! one worth asking those suppliers, what do they do eh ? It obviously can be done so why doesn't everyone do it?
Hi Sparrow and Borderlass
This is my reply I have sent as a starter as I do think I will be talking again to Mark from Bob Martin.
Thank you so much for your response by email to my letter.
I would like you to know a little bit about me. I am simply just passionate about my birds in my garden and I have never been involved in any campaign before. I am writing to many manufacturers and retailers regarding mesh nets as common sense tells me that this is certainly a dangerous method of packaging. I have never worked for any wildlife charity and I have been self employed most of my life I am only a member of the RSPB and have never worked or done any voluntary work on their behalf. Basically I am just amazed and totally at a loss to think why these mesh nets are still used.
Scientific evidence that mesh bags cause injury or death as you will be aware is hard for me to find as it is impossible to test this in a lab and I am certainly not hanging mesh up in my trees! As I say above all of the evidence I and other organisations like the RSPB or the RSPCA receive is through being alerted by the general public to what they have witnessed in their gardens. There are many terrible stories on our RSPB Community Forum that highlights and shows that these birds are being trapped, maimed and killed by using mesh nets.
So many people in the general public are totally unaware of the detrimental effect mesh has on our wildlife. These mesh balls to the general public are seen as “traditional” but until they experience a bird being harmed or given advice they remain oblivious. Your experience of strawberry netting shows this. I also believe that the netting becomes more dangerous as the contents are consumed as the mesh then loses it’s tightness.
The RSPB has started a new campaign to highlight and educate the public of the dangers of mesh. They have called it “Don’t let it get mesh-y for birds”. I have given you a link below to their campaign page. The RSPB have 1million members and many thousands of members on their Community site. Like all charities they have to justify what they spend their donations on and if this was not worthwhile I am sure they would use the funding for other research. The RSPCA are also doing a massive campaign against litter and on their website they explain the difficulties that are faced in this modern age. The link is also below.
There are many viable suggestions for using different ways to package suet balls. Chapelwood sells a large range of suet balls in a choice of quantity and different packaging options. Their webpage illustrates exactly how packaging without net balls is very successful. The link to Chapelwoods webpage is below.
As a company you will know your production cost figures. Eliminating the process of manufacturing and attaching mesh nets would certainly cut your costs ie wages, capital, equipment and energy. This would increase your profit margins.
I also find that when shopping for different bird food ranges that many companies are now using “We do not use mesh in any of our products” as a major selling point. The customer does like to see a lovely website full of lovely slogans and these companies know that. That is why they invest so heavily on their marketing.
I have posted on our website a copy of your letter which I think has been very informative and I really appreciate that you are interested to learn of different ways to package the Bob Martin suet range. I think you will find my thread on mesh netting very interesting and you can read the publics views on this topic. The RSPB Community Forum would be very happy if your company would like to post a statement regarding the use of mesh in their products or if you prefer I could post a full copy of your statement on Bob Martin’s behalf.
The other major problem mesh nets cause is waste as you can not recycle it. All major companies ie Tesco are now getting on the band wagon to promote their concerns over environmental issues and working to reduce their carbon footprint. You can see this in every supermarket where they encourage their customer to re-use their plastic bags or to use a “Bag for Life“. This has mainly came about by the research carried out on how long it takes for plastic to fully disperse in a landfill site and how plastic makes a massive impact on wildlife and their habitats.
I really am pleased to receive your letter as you welcome your customer’s input and I think you are a company that is willing to learn and certainly listen to many different points of view.
I have listed again all the websites and online pages for your reading and I hope we can come to a conclusive solution on our debate.
Spot on Lolly
Good reply Lolly.
Well written, Lolly. I just caught up with Sunday's Beechgrove Potting Shed radio slot on iPlayer and heard one of the presenters telling how woodpeckers can catch their tongues and other birds their claws, asking people to take off nets and use a feeder.
Thanks Borderlass and Sparrow.
Just had a listen and that was interesting and very enjoyable. They covered quite a lot of different wildlife issues for winter including the danger of mesh. If anyone else wants to listen you can fast forward the show to 18minutes 50 seconds straight to the wildlife bit.
Thank you Grandmamac.
I thought I would just give everyone an update.
Basically zilch has happened. I sent the first letters out on the 1st of November. I have received no reply from Tom Chalmers, Tesco, Dobbies, BTO or GHBi. I have received 2 letters from Gardman, 1 letter from Homebase and an email from Bob Martin.
Time to put pen to paper again!
Well done Lolly, I have been buying fat balls in mesh sometimes and removing the mesh, putting the fat balls into a feeder. But I suppose the best message I could send is NOT TO BUY the mesh wrapped ones at all. If we all stopped buying dangerous products, they might rethink! I have (without realising it) added to this problem, even though I haven't put any birds at risk.
Keep it up Lolly, you are doing a great job.
Thats no surprise really lolly,they are only interested in profit, they pretend to be concerned about the environment but thats so they look good in the public eye,they dont give a toss really as long as the money is rolling in
Time to bump this thread up again!
And time to spread the word again.
I have a one legged Blue Tit in my garden I have christened Long John. I finally managed to get a photo of him today.
I am continually getting mesh nets in my garden, I don't use them, and I can't see into the neighbours gardens, due to the geography of our street. I can only put one and one together to come to the conclusion that Long John lost his leg due to coming ensnared in a mesh net.
I blogged about the issue today to try and raise awareness and for people to make a New Years Resolution to stop using them if they do put them out in mesh nest, and invest the small sum of money in a fat ball feeder for the garden.
Here is poor old Long John.
Long John by PontyCyclops, on Flickr
And here is my blog entry for today.
No More Mesh Nets! A New Years Resolution
Happy New Year Forumites! ;o)
Well done for the bump Ant
And a Happy New Year to you and the wife...and Long John
Thank you .. hopefully I will be around the message boards a bit more now ... ;o)
Well everyone it is a New Year and nearly February. I have to admit that I have been so disheartened by the lack of feedback I have received from any of the companies I have written too. I have even sent out new letters and still received no response. I have still been keeping an eye on what shops and companies are selling and I have not noticed the decline of fat balls in mesh.
I did receive an email from a gentleman who had himself written to Gardman and he sent me a copy of his 2 responses back. I have to admit that the letters he received were of lets say a better quality than I got obviously Gardman had done a bit more homework. The gentlemans letters were brilliantly written and of a much higher standard than mine and really got the attention of Gardman. I will ask this gentleman if he would like to post a copy of his emails on this thread for you all to read.
Over the last few weeks I have taken time out from the mesh as I felt so disapointed in not receiving any feedback at all from the organisations and I have to say that it has taken me until tonight to fully reply to the gentlemans email which I have to say I am not proud of. My partner has been out of the country for the last 4 weeks so running the business has been in my hands.
Jenni's thread this evening sort of kicked me in to action again but really I am stumped on what to do as these companies really do not want to listen.
I was also wondering if anyone else had received a response back from Gardman or if they had been ignored too.
Hi Lolly Like yourself I have had a busy start to the new year but I did receive a reply from Gardmans , and I felt a bit fobbed off with their response to my letter of complaint , here is a copy of their letter back to me ,please everyone feel free to comment on it
And how many Customer service personal do they have working there ,I recollect 4 different people ,are they getting that many complaints they are having to take on extra staff?