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There are concerns that the bands are bad for birds, with reports that ducks are mistaking them for worms.
I think it's because the rubber oxidises, so, if you have one of those thingys that vacuum packs food, you could stick them in a baggy and suck all the air out.Or, you could try "canning" them, although the boiling water might do them in a bit too.Or, you could stick them in a baggy and fill it with nitrogen then seal it.I've no idea if any of these will actually work!
Baby powder works as well, and after dusting them thoroughly keep in a sealed container so that they do not degrade further from exposure to oxygen and light.
The red ones dropped by postman Pat don't degrade fast enough for Daffy Duck and Sonic the Hedgehog ...QuoteThere are concerns that the bands are bad for birds, with reports that ducks are mistaking them for worms.http://www.dailymail.co.ukhttp://www.thehedgehog.co.uk/rubberband.htm
I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure rubber bands (and all rubber for that matter) degrades because the elastomers and plastomers evaporate or otherwise leave the rubber. Is there an expert in the house? Does this amount to the same thing as oxidation? or do both processes contribute to the brittle rubber?
I have undertaken to collect them over a set period of time and then go to the press !
Here we go -"Uncured natural rubber will begin to deteriorate within a few days, gradually breaking down into a wet crumbly mess. The process of perishing partly consists of proteins being broken down (much as milk proteins do) and also of the large rubber molecules breaking up as they oxidize in the air due to oxygen molecules attacking the double bonds.Rubber that has been inadequately vulcanized also may perish, but more slowly. The process of perishing is encouraged by long exposure to sunlight, and especially to ultraviolet radiation."From http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Rubber#Reason_for_vulcanizingBTW - As I learned from personal experience, just remember not to ask your department admin if she has any rubbers when you show up for work in the US.
Natural rubber doesn't usually contain much plasticiser; it doesn't need one. There's not a lot of protein either ( though there's sometimes enough to cause allergies)However the rubber is susceptible to damage due to ozone (always present in traces in the air). It attacks the double bonds in the molecule.Keeping them in nitrogen, or even in a sealed bag would help reduce the rate of degradation.Other oxidants and sunlight also degrade it. That's part of the reason why rubber tires are generally black. They add carbon to block UV damage.
Quote from: neilep on 21/03/2011 20:41:20 I have undertaken to collect them over a set period of time and then go to the press !If you are serious about going to the press bear in mind that could result in you coming across as an eccentric “neat freak”, maybe use just your initials (or a humorous pen name) if you contact the press about your “collection”.NB: If you p-off postal workers, letters for your address may end up being delivered to the dump, or worse  . There may be a scientific solution, the bands only became an issue when they were dyed red. Either the colour is making them more conspicuous or it is enabling them to survive longer in the wild.Plastic ropes have dye added to slow their degradation by UV light. Maybe they have accidentally done something similar to the rubber bands by colouring them: causing them to persist for longer on the streets than their natural beige predecessors. Perhaps the life span of natural and coloured rubber bands could be studied ?Maybe even devise a way of exaggerating their UV susceptibility so the feral bands disintegrate quickly, but those which remain within the postal system keep intact for a reasonable period. Or perhaps, given the UK climate, bands which dissolve when wet. (where do I apply for a grant ?  ).
Being photograhed next to a large quantity of rubber bands one has collected is not a good look ...snippped
Being photograhed next to a large quantity of rubber bands one has collected is not a good look ...There’s enough rubber there to create a lining for his cell. 
Quote from: RD on 22/03/2011 16:13:33Being photograhed next to a large quantity of rubber bands one has collected is not a good look ...snipppedI would just be too tempted to kick away the chock that's stopping the ball rolling off down the street
To preserve them, you could try sealing them in an airtight plastic bag along with a little water, and some iron or steel filings. As the iron rusts, it should remove most of the free oxygen from inside the container.Of course, evey time you open the bag, you'll let more oxygen in.