Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Perfect Whole!

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.


  1. Dear SmallFootPrints,
    Thank you for the comment on my blog. I'm glad you liked it. Your blog is great too. It is very informational. We try to do some things at home to help save and conserve, we recycle almost everything, we replaced all of our lightbulbs with energy efficient ones, I am constantly turning things off etc... I will be back to read more. I am going to place your blog link on my blog- I would love it if you would do the same. I hope to hear from you again.
    Maureen :)

  2. Hi SmallFootPrints,

    I agree that we should live and let live, when my husband and I see a spider or other insect in our house we also set it free outside.

    But, we have a lot of wasps that have taken up residence on the outside of our house. We can't open our windows without them flying in. For those that have we tried to set them free outside, but as you can imagine this can be a difficult task.

    Do you think it would be okay if I sprayed the growing wasp nest outside our house?

  3. Hi liteacher,

    Just ato add, New Zealand suffered many changes with the colonisation in 1840's, introduced sheep, rabbit, goats, deer and cattle. Some of these species have caused terrible problems and now we try to eradicate rabbits with myxamatosis. Also deer control has always been the domain of hunters. But the destruction of natural reserves and pasture for the sheep and cattle has been terrible.

  4. Thank you, sas_consultant, for your comments and question about wasps.

    I did a little research and learned a lot about them. It turns out that they are considered a beneficial insect because they eat other destructive insects like aphids ... and, because they go for sweet things, they are also good pollinators. However, they are aggressive ... and I will tell you from personal experience that their sting really, REALLY hurts.

    Most methods for getting rid of them involve killing them. However, I found one method that dissuades them without killing them and from the reviews I've read, it works. It's called The Original Waspinator. Here's a review on it:

    Waspinators are available online at They might be available at garden centers like Orchard Supply, Home Depot or Lowe's.

    Here's an interesting fact (and one to keep in mind if one decides to kill these little creatures) ... when wasps die, they send out a signal. Other wasps in the area immediately run to their dying friend's aid. At this point they are ready to fight. Not good!

    Thanks, again ... I learned a lot!

  5. Glad I'm not the only one who won't kill spiders. Once I even slept on the couch because I couldn't get a spider out of my bedroom!

    My heart broke a little too when I read about the bee trap in your blog. We should stop meddling with the natural order and remember that everything is connected but fragile.

    I have a bee hive outside my apartment and sometimes the bees fly in my window in summer. Friends tell me to ring the landlord to get it removed, but I actually quite like it (except for the time one flew into my ear and bit me. Ouch!).