Reducing our footprint on the earth means more to me than just recycling or using less energy. To me, it's also about considering one's actions and ensuring that those actions don't have a negative impact on the earth or anything that lives on it.
History is full of examples where actions were taken without thought about negative impact. In the early 1930's, much of our country's forests were decimated through logging. This wasn't the responsible, replant the forest, kind of logging ... this was clear cutting ... period. This left the land vulnerable to wind and rain and the result was severe erosion. Luckily, President Roosevelt and the CCC implemented a reforestation program which is considered responsible for the lush, beautiful forests that we enjoy today throughout much of the country.
In the mid 1920's, wolves were exterminated from Yellowstone National Park. The result was an overpopulation of animals normally on a wolf's "menu". This lead to other imbalances in both plant and animal life. In 1995 wolves were reintroduced to the park. Within two years, the project was considered a success. If you would like to read more about this, click here.
These examples are big and aren't the kinds of decisions that we, as individuals, normally have to make. But even small actions have consequences.
Recently I happened to be in a campground located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The campground was surrounded by a beautiful forest and located near a river. The setting was lovely. On my way to the bathroom, I noticed something hanging off the trash dumpster. It was a bee trap. Inside, hundreds of dead bees were stacked up and towards the top, two bees were struggling to escape. They never would. I have great compassion for all living creatures so the site broke my heart. Why, in the forest, would someone find it necessary to exterminate insects? The answer amazed me. A short distance from the dumpster, several hummingbird feeders were placed in a tree by the camp host and evidently they wanted to ensure that only hummingbirds were fed. OK ... but what is the result of this decision? Hundreds of bees lay dead in a container instead of flying around the forest, pollinating as they go. And that means that plant life suffers. And when plant life suffers ... we're not far behind. One may argue that it was just one trap. But what if a lot of traps are put out ... what happens to our pollinators?
We seem to believe that it's OK to kill anything that bothers us. But there is always a consequence to those actions.
So here's what I'm suggesting. Start with the belief that everything works together to create a perfect whole. Labels such as "pest" are just that ... a label ... not necessarily a fact. Instead of killing a critter, try dissuading it or just move it out of the way. I do that with spiders all the time ... they seem to love my house so I just pick them up and move them outside. And when putting out any type of feeder, be tolerant of all critters that come to eat. After all, nature doesn't discriminate ... why should we. Basically I'm saying, live and let live.
As always, I'd love to hear your comments on this subject.