March 2009 Issue
For the Birds
Made in Ohio
For Dave Allen, being mindful of the environment is a personal mantra that dates back to his days as a child growing up in Washington Courthouse.
“My parents lived through the Depression,” Allen, 60, explains, “so they taught us not to waste anything.”
Over the past few years, as worldwide concern for our planet and its wildlife began to escalate, Allen decided he wanted to do his part to develop a product that would help protect it.
But what could it be?
The answer came, he says, in a flash on the way to his office: create a biodegradable birdhouse that would not only serve as a nesting spot but also be a natural candidate for the compost pile after it outlived its use.
“One of the things I hate about birdhouses is that you have to clean them out,” Allen says. “You never know what you’re going to find in there. A biodegradable one can be cut down and recycled.”
For six months, he tinkered with a design that would appeal to the wrens, nuthatches and titmice that frequent Ohio back yards. The finished product, which debuted last June, is made of a three-ply laminate that’s water-resistant and designed to last through a six-month nesting season.
“According to the National Audubon Society’s 2007 WatchList, 25 percent of our nation’s birds are nearing extinction due to urban sprawl, intense farming practices and global warming,” Allen explains. “Many birders believe that providing habitat is even more important than providing food in the winter.
“Hopefully,” he adds, “we’re making it easier to do just that.”
The house retails for $12.99. To date, says Allen, thousands have been sold at garden centers and museums around the country, as well as online and by phone. Customers who want to add a bit of artistic flair to the off-white structure can also purchase a kit filled with milk paint, an all-natural substance made of cow’s milk that’s been used for centuries. The paint is available in a color palette ranging from red to blue, yellow, green and orange.
This year, Allen is taking his environmental-protection pledge a step further. Through his new company, GreenBird, the Cincinnati resident is preparing lesson plans for elementary school students and their parents on subjects ranging from the importance of recycling to dealing with the effects of global warming
“Our goal,” he says, “is to sensitize people to what is happening not only to birds and their habitat but also to our own.”
For more information about GreenBird products, call 513/241-4300 or visit www.greenbirdhouse.com