I have lived my entire life in the woodlands of North America. I love walking through the vast areas of pines, birches, maples, oaks, blueberries, ferns, mosses, aspens, and raspberries. To me, it is pure joy to sit in the woods or in a boat on a lake or river and listen to the sounds of nature. I especially enjoy the fall when the colors become vivid, and animal life is in a rush to prepare for winter. The falling of leaves to the ground, followed by frost and snow, adds its own magic to the joy of being in the woods. Recycling enables the natural beauty we enjoy.
What we are seldom aware of is the massive amounts of waste produced in the woods. We all know about leaves and probably have had some cruel words about them when they cover our lawns. The fact is that a constant rain of organic material falls to the floor of the woods. Limbs, bark, twigs, dead grass, moss, sawdust, animal excrement, and carcasses pile up year after year. Yet when you walk in the woods, the floor is made up of a thin, spongy layer of black soil. What happens to the massive amount of debris that falls to the forest floor every year?
The answer to this question is under-appreciated by most of us. Recycling enables the natural beauty of the woods. God has built into the forest an incredibly efficient recycling system. When something organic falls to the forest floor, it is swarmed on by bacteria, termites, ants, fungi, and worms, which form the basis of the food chain for higher forms of life. Nutrients in the woods seldom last longer than a few weeks at the most. Rain is moderate and percolates through these nutrients, rapidly helping them find their way back into the forest’s living tissues.
Those places where there are not dense forests have a completely different system of recycling. In the far north, where forests are not dominant, migrating salmon provide the ecological balance needed. In desert areas, the lack of ecological balance means that life for humans is difficult at best. Human survival depends on God’s recycling system. In some areas of the rich farmlands of America, we can measure the soil in feet. That allows us to grow our grain crops that sustain our existence, but those areas were built in an ancient forest.
God told us to take care of what He gave us. (See Genesis 2:15.) One part of caring for the Earth is to copy God’s recycling techniques. Recycling enables the natural beauty by replenishing the nutrients we take from the soil rather than polluting the air by burning them or polluting the ground by bagging in plastic and burying them.
— John N. Clayton © 2020