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.