Rentachook is Greener than Kermit’s Bum!
Oooops, can you say bum on the internet (twice)? Our endeavour has always been to make both the business and the products as sustainable as possible. Resource minimisation, beneficial reuse of waste, and recycling are used to achieve this goal. In 2009 our efforts were recognised in the national green awards run by the News Group (news.com.au) as being Australia’s greenest business, taking out the Green Business Award. Read on and you will find out why.
Chooks – The Sustainable Pets
The core tenet of Rentachook is sustainability. The business started from a chance offer I made of loaning my chickens when I was promoting urban sustainable practices as part of the “Living Waters, Living Communities” project. I was encouraging people to consider keeping chooks because they are the only demonstrably sustainable pet you can have in suburbia. Chooks:
- Eat food scraps, including food waste that cannot be composted eg, remains of dishes that incorporate meat, pasta, rice and bread. We have three children and our food waste to landfill is nil (we compost as well);
- Control (eat) backyard insect pests like spiders, cockroaches (and I have even been told by customers in tick infested areas that they keep the ticks down too). This reduces the need to control such pests with pesticide;
- Provide food locally that has food miles of zero. By comparison the eggs you buy in a shop can be grown anywhere in country NSW, are shipped in bulk to be graded and packaged, then shipped to the central warehousing for a supermarket chain, then shipped to the supermarket, then purchased and brought home. A bit more environmental impact than a stroll into the backyard daily to collect the eggs!; and
- Provide natural fertiliser for your garden (even better once you have composted it).
Chooks, natures recyclers!
As I said above, chooks are a properly sustainable pet but that does not fully do them justice in terms of their waste reduction abilities. Being omnivorous opportunistic eaters they can (and will) eat almost anything you do, especially if it is all mixed together and their is a good variety. There is an added bonus that the more varied the diet the chooks have the better the eggs will taste. This is the reason that homegrown eggs taste better even than certified organic eggs which are produced on a homogeneous diet. Last year I spent three months weighing the amount of food waste I took out to the chooks and fount it averaged between 10 and 15 kg a week. That equates to between half and three quarters of a tonne a year diverted from landfill from my place alone! Granted, I have more chooks in my pet flock than most people do, but that just means they hoover it up in 10 mins flat rather than spending the day coming back to it.
What makes an Eco-Coop Eco Friendly?
All coops are made as sustainably as possible, using Australian grown plantation pine and Australian plantation pine plywood. Plantation pine is a crop like wheat (it just takes longer to mature) and is a sustainable resource, the Canadians and Scandinavians have been farming trees for hundreds of years. Choosing Australian grown means that the timber is not shipped unnecessarily (from the other side of the globe, costing fuel and greenhouse gases). Also, please note that any timber, or anything made from wood, that is imported into Australia must be fumigated with a pesticide. Note: Eggs are porous and can absorb chemicals. The wheels come from old prams put out for rubbish collection (when we can get them). For standard coops, we make the wheels out of ply offcuts (which were otherwise going to waste). We are always keen for pram wheels. If you have an old pram or see one put out for collection we’re dead keen for every dead pram (or just its wheels, small wheels only please, we can’t use the all terrain big wheels on the coops). Most other components (tin, wire etc) we don’t have much choice with them and they are pretty sustainable anyway given the tasks they have to perform.
Beneficial Reuse of Waste
The following items used/sold by Rentachook are beneficial reuse of waste:
- Feeders and waterers – 2 and 3 litre plastic milk and juice bottles;
- Bags for straw – Old stockfeed bags (until we run out);
- Bags for feed supplied with coops – Supermarket and department store shopping bags or stockfeed bags; and
- Wheels for coops – Old pram wheels (keep your eyes out, I’m having trouble keeping up)
Waste Minimisation in Coop Construction
Every design decision for the coops we make was done with minimising wastage in mind. Overall, in the construction of the coop, there is very little waste and almost nothing that is not recycled, as seen in the table:
|Framing timber offcuts||Less than 20cm per coop||Shredded and composted|
|Ply offcuts||Approx 1 A3 sheet size per coop||Cut up and used for gates and standard coop wheels|
|Sawdust||Approx 50 grams per coop||Composted|
|Wire offcuts||Less than 100 grams per coop||Recycled (steel)|
|Packaging on hinges||Cardboard card with heat shrink plastic||Disposal|
|Bent screws, missed staples||Not many||Recycled (steel)|
|Metal strapping||Around timber etc delivered||Recycled (steel)|
|Sundry packaging||Plastic strapping and packaging||Disposal|
|Cardboard packaging||With bulk supplies||Reused in workshop or recycled|
Recycling of Coops
We also encourage the recycling of the coops. If, later on down the track, your circumstances change (eg you move into a flat, or your new partner is Alektrophobic (has a morbid fear of chooks)), please contact us and we may take back your coop from you and/or try to find a new home for your chooks. Obviously, if you’ve had your coop for ages we won’t give you much for it. We may not even be able to fully recycle it but we can always reuse the wheels and the tin. Keep ‘em going round!
Promotion of Organic
We also promote organic. We promote organic because, to gain certification:
- Organic farmers must nurture their paddocks in a sustainable way that naturally improves the soil;
- Organic farmers are required to maintain the local habitat and promote bush regeneration, control weeds etc; and
- Pesticides, herbicides, growth regulators, hormones, antibiotics and other nasties are totally prohibited.