Do you love feeding your garden birds? Are you looking to find a sustainable, eco friendly type bird food without the plastic?
Good to hear because that’s exactly what I’ve been looking at too!
I love spending a bit of time pottering around my garden, filling up the bird feeders and watching them visit over the next few days. There’s something really rewarding about looking after nature and wildlife around you.
If you enjoy spending time in your garden topping up your feeders and making sure the birds have all they need, this blog is for you.
Opting for a plastic free bird food is an excellent choice not just for your feathered visitors, but a more sustainable choice that benefits us all.
Let’s take a look at:
- The environmental cost of bird food
- What to look out for when buying eco friendly bird food
- Best places to buy plastic free bird food
What’s the best type of bird food for your garden?
There are many types of bird food out there for your garden.
The most common types include:
- Bird seed (sunflower seeds, nijer, peanut)
- Fat and suet balls
- Insects and mealworms
- Cereals (millet and maize)
If you’re looking for the best eco friendly bird food, there are a couple of things to look out for.
Many commercial bird food and seed mixes contain fillers and artificial ingredients.
Cheaper options can be bulked out with the likes of wheat, barley grains, millet, lentils, dried peas and rice. Some of the bigger ingredients can only really be eaten by pigeons and other bigger bird species.
Watch out if you have dogs or hedgehogs
A couple of other pointers as birds can be messy eaters, flicking a lot of food from feeders on the floor! If you have hedgehogs roaming through your garden at night, be careful of having dried mealworms around. Mealworms can be harmful to hedgehogs and cause bone disease.
If you have a dog, don’t use bird feed that contains sultanas or raisins as these can be highly toxic. With my Murphy the Cocker often hoovering up fat balls and other things the birds have dropped, I have to be careful not to use anything with raisins or sultanas.
So what’s the best type of bird food for your garden?
Look for an eco friendly bird food that’s plastic free and contains natural, nutritious, small, bird friendly ingredients.
Does bird food come with an environmental cost?
It probably isn’t something you’ve considered that much before, but yes bird food does come with an environmental cost.
After all, it has to be grown, produced, harvested, manufactured, packaged and delivered.
Some of the more common bird food and bird seed ingredients include:
- Sunflower seeds
Many of these ingredients aren’t produced in the UK.
For example, most of our sunflower products, like sunflower oil, come from Ukraine. However, you can grow sunflowers in the UK, which is what Really Wild Bird Food do.
Maize is mainly grown in the US, China, Brazil and Argentina. Peanuts are grown in the tropics and sub-tropics.
And that’s just the bird food. Add plastic packaging into the mix and you’ve got a fairly large carbon footprint.
However, there are ways you can feed the birds with a reduced environmental impact.
Plastic-based bird food packaging
So much of the bird food that people buy for their garden birds comes in large plastic tubs or plastic packaging.
I know most of the stuff I’ve bought in the past has been packaged in plastic. On the positive side, the big plastic tubs have come in useful and I have managed to reuse these in my shed.
Just like all types non-recyclable plastic, the plastic waste from bird food packaging can end up causing harm in nature and in marine environments.
Thankfully, you can now get garden bird food products that are made from sustainable, all natural ingredients and come in recyclable, plastic free packaging.
Sustainable bird food brands are using biodegradable cardboard boxes and paper-based packaging to supply their food.
Some of the best companies are using compostable packaging so there is zero waste. Sometimes these look like your usual clear plastic, but they are made from compostable cellulose, a type of bioplastic. Make sure you check out the labels carefully.
What should you look out for when buying eco friendly bird food?
To ensure that the bird food you are buying is eco friendly, there are a few things you can look out for.
- Is the bird food is packaged in eco friendly materials? These include paper, cardboard or compostable packaging.
- Are any of the ingredients are produced locally?
- How many fillers have been used in the mix to bulk it out?
- Does the food contain higher quality ingredients? These include sunflower hearts, hemp seeds, pinhead oats, safflower, kibbled peanuts, fruit, linseed and mealworms.
By following these simple tips, you can be sure that you are buying eco friendly bird food that will be good for both the environment and the birds in your garden.
If you want to create a more eco friendly garden in general, look at these tips for rewilding your garden no matter how small it is.
5 best places to buy plastic free bird food
Unfortunately, most of the bird food mixes you find in supermarkets, high street shops and garden centres are low in quality and packaged in plastic. If you check the ingredients, you often contain cheaper food sources in there to bulk it all out.
Despite this, there are a number of ways to buy plastic free bird food. Yes, you may be able to locate a good, eco friendly bird food in a shop, but it’s also possible to purchase garden bird food in bulk online.
Here are some of my favourite places:
1. Really Wild Bird Food Co – Husband and wife team, Richard and Lesley run Street End Farm in Hampshire from which they grow their own wild bird food!
They have specialised in sowing and growing bird seed crops for over 20 years. Crops grown by Really Wild Bird Food include sunflower, many kinds of oats, barley, oil seed rape, linseed and millet. There are lots more seeds and bird food mixes available on their website.
2. A Little Bird Company – Started in 2020 by Clare Cahill, a Little Bird Co sell high quality, sustainable, seasonal food that your birds will love! Because of the high quality ingredients, birds don’t leave any waste on the floor. All bags are filled by hand to order, so no waste is produced during production.
Sustainability is at the foundation of A Little Bird Company. You can buy one-off bags in compostable packaging or opt for a subscription service delivered to your door on a regular basis. Unlike a lot of compostable packaging, A Little Bird Co’s bag can be composted at home. They also sell bird feeders, nests and gifts.
3. Hedge Buddies – Found in Aberdeen, Hedge Buddies produce eco friendly food mixes to keep your birds happy! They sell a range of different mixes, feeders and garden accessories.
4. Bird Kind – Have a simple message to produce bird food that is filler-free forever. This means they opt for quality ingredients, such as seeds, nuts and fruits. Bird Kind use recycled plastic materials to send out their product and are looking are completely plastic-free alternatives. They also stock bird homes made from FSC wood.
5. CJ Wildlife – CJ Wildlbird Foods have been going in Shropshire since 1987. They were started by wildlife enthusiast and ornithologist, Chris Whittles.
Products like their eco fat balls contain high quality ingredients such as black sunflower seeds, chopped peanuts and seeds. Importantly, they are palm oil free and come packaged plastic-free in a cardboard box.
Plastic free bird food is a win-win.
When it comes to bird food, going green is the best way to go.
By choosing an eco friendly and plastic free bird food, you can reduce your environmental impact while ensuring that your garden birds have the best possible diet.
When it comes to choosing the best bird food for your garden, go with a brand that creates healthy bird food with sustainability at the centre.
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I’m the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home. Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.