Dangerous Disposable Device #2

Cool drinks ahead!  Summer is coming and I know that many, many people like the cool drinks you can get from almost all of the fast food and drink restaurants.  Here in Canada, there’s the Tim Hortons Iced Capp, Wendy’s has the Frosty and McDonald’s has the McFlurry.  Still others might choose a favourite Bubble Tea to quench their thirst.

I can’t comment on the nutritional analysis of the ingredients of these drinks to know how good or bad they are for you.  But I have observed that the containers they come in, while safe for us, can pose a deadly threat to the health and well-being of some of the wild creatures that share our world.

What am I talking about?  The lid that is often used with these particular drinks is the problem.  It can become a dangerous trap for the wildlife that encounters it.  Those lids are not flat like lids all used to be.

safe lid

For these drinks, it’s curved and often with a good sized hole at the top.

unsafe lid

I like to think of it as ‘how to get more drink than the cup really holds’.

For whatever reason, though, companies arrived at using this style and have used it now for years.  But combined with the tantalizing smells of something delicious within, this design creates a ‘device’ that can trap animals.

see below for photo credit

This skunk, nicknamed Bubbles, was discovered in the fall of 2011 in Vancouver’s West End.  After numerous attempts to rescue it by caring and obviously flexible volunteers of the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue, it was finally caught.  Even the news media were following the story of this little one.

The skunk was in need of medical help because it had encountered the ‘device’ as a youngster and as it was growing into an adult, the lid was getting tighter and tighter around its neck.  Bubbles was taken to the Wildlife Rescue Association (WRA) of BC in Burnaby and later released.

A much happier skunk!

Bubbles the skunk
Photo by Linda Bakker

Ongoing Problem

Animals getting injured by these ‘devices’ is an ongoing problem.  Here in Thunder Bay, a month ago a friend posted out on Facebook that she and a friend had rescued another skunk trapped in a cup.  (no, she didn’t get sprayed…the poor thing was too disoriented to do that)

In England where hedgehogs live in abundance, McDonald’s was encouraged to change the size of the hole in their drink lids.  Hedgehogs were going into the discarded drink containers but couldn’t pull their heads out because of the design.  Public outcry actually worked though it took several years and countless deaths.

I was also told recently of someone’s cat which got its head stuck in a larger holed drink container.  At first they thought it looked kind of funny but they quickly realized that it was not!  The lid was cutting their cat’s neck.

Birds also get these stuck around their necks and it can spell almost certain death for them.

Cut Them Up

One might think that being careful to put these types of drink containers into the garbage when finished with it would be good enough.  And, it is certainly better than simply dropping it on the ground.  However, garbage doesn’t always stay contained when it is in a garbage collector bin or even when it gets to the landfill.

The best solution, aside from just not buying this type of drink or trying to refuse the lid, is to cut the lid into two pieces.

making it safe

This way there is no longer a hole to get stuck in.

Ideally, it would be great if companies would revise the design of these lids.  How many people carry handy scissors with them?  …not to mention the muck!

Until they’re changed, though, please cut them up.  Thanks!

Do you have a story to share about these lids and the animals and birds that encounter them?  Please share your stories in the comments and sign up to receive these posts automatically.

Bubbles photo credit:  this photo comes from http://www.orphankittenrescue.com/blogs/2011/11/article304/   Unsuccessful attempts were made to learn who the photographer was.  If you know who took this photo, please let me know and I will update this post.  Thanks.

The first post in this series is “Dangerous Disposable Devices“.

This entry was posted in Animals, Disposable planet, Food, Tips, waste and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Dangerous Disposable Device #2

  1. Reblogged this on The Birding Bunch and commented:
    This is my first time “Reblogging” anything, but I believe more people should be aware of this. By the way, I keep scissors handy in our glove compartment. I’ve had too many times of needing them away from home.

    • Deanna says:


      Thanks for reblogging my post and helping to get the word out. And, very cool that you have scissors in your car. I used to have a small fold up pair that went on my key chain….I should put them back.


  2. Glenn Nevill says:

    I carry a small Swiss Army knife with me. It has scissors that come in handy all the time.

  3. gnevill says:

    I carry a swiss army knife that has scissors with me all the time. Great for things like this.

  4. Thanks for the information..Diane

  5. I hadn’t heard this. There are so many other problem pieces, as well.

    • Deanna says:

      Apparently it was so huge with the hedgehogs that a lot of people complained. I’ve also seen a pigeon with one around its neck but I didn’t have a camera handy. Did you see my first post about ‘dangerous disposable devices’? It addresses another problem item and I have one more planned, as well, for another item in daily use. Cheers!

  6. Matthew says:

    Yesterday on my way to work I saw a skunk trapped in a similar kind of lid. The lid was still on the cup, and the skunk stuck its head in to presumably smell/taste whatever trace of liquid was left. I’m pretty sure it was dead when I walked by. It showed no reaction at all to a woman and I walking by. It was sad. Didn’t think to take a picture,

    • Deanna says:

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for sharing. Not all of the stories are happy. The more we can get the word out the better. If you haven’t already, please feel free to share this post with anyone you think might be interested. It’s an ongoing problem. I was out walking this morning and again picked up a discarded drink container with a lid like this.

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