Bird Nests and Fish Dinners
By Brigitte Dauwalder
It must have been in one of your more mischievous moments that you decided to ask me, a biologist, this perplexing question!
Because, you know, it does not look good for choosing plastic. On the face of it, though, plastic does look like a champion: It is so tough and durable. And let’s not forget that it can make sturdy and artful contributions to birds’ nests. But like some once-liked house guests, it just will not go away. True, it will crumble into teensy tiny pieces and slip away into the oceans, but just when you think that you got rid of it (hurray!), even teensier-tinier pieces show up in your fish at dinner and, eventually, in your body.
Paper? Want a laugh? Just try to pack the frozen dinners and the ice cream from the grocery store in a paper bag. Or bring a piece of that nice lasagna from last night for lunch in a paper bag instead of a nice tight plastic container!
And how about all the trees that are being sacrificed to make all that paper? Does this make a biologist feel better? By the way, have you noticed how very, very concerned the utility companies are about the disappearance of trees because of your paper bills? I’m sure this has nothing to do with corporate convenience. They must be genuine tree lovers! Now, that would truly be a reason for excitement for a biologist.
For me, after extensive personal research, there is a clear answer to the question “paper or plastic”: Cloth and Glass!
Dauwalder, an assistant professor in the department of biology and biochemistry, is interested in how complex behaviors (such as mating behavior and circadian behaviors) are regulated by genes and molecular pathways. She knows more about fruit fly sex than you can possibly imagine.