Save Time and Butterflies: Put Down Our Rakes

One Good Deed Idea and Action Exchange
Orange yard waste bags shaped like halloween pumpkins

Chelsea, a member of the Earthfire team, recently observed a long row of plastic-bagged leaves while on an evening bike ride. “When we put leaves in plastic bags,” she said afterward, “we’re putting all kinds of Life in plastic bags, and it suffocates.”

By removing and bagging leaves, we not only destroy the Life living within the leaves, we also remove critical habitat for butterfly and other larvae. Collecting the leaves eradicates a protective space for butterflies and moths to survive the winter as pupae. Worms, microbes, ground dwelling moles and toads, among many others, all depend on the leaves for both habitat and hunting grounds over the long winter months. Left to biodegrade, the leaves can also restore the nutrient cycle, providing rich nourishment for plants.

It is best  to allow the leaves to remain in place for the winter, or if that is not possible, gather them into a nice pile for compost. By abandoning the tradition of collecting and bagging fall foliage, we can create habitat, preserve Life and further enrich our earth.

Yard waste collected in black plastic bags and biodegradable paper bags
(Left) Black plastic bags that are commonly used to collect leaves. (Right) Biodegradable leaf bags. • Photo by Earthfire Institute

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