Kermit the Frog once sang that it wasn't easy being green, spending each day the color of the leaves. Well, I would venture to say that is true in our society as well--it isn't easy being "green" doing all the recycling, conserving, reusing, etc. There is even a software out now that says it "eliminates unwated pages saving paper, ink, money, and millions of trees".
How else are we saving trees? In Douglas Tallamy's book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens the question is raised about our habits unrelated to recycling the trash. What do we plant that will sustain our environment? Do we plant non-native species that attract destroying insects? Or, do we plant things that will create a strong ecosystem in Michigan? Doug states; "Only 15 percent of the Amazonian basin has been logged, whereas well over 70 percent of the forests along our eastern seaboard are gone" (25). That seems to possibly prompt us to a rethinking of priorities. As I drag my yellow recycle bin to the curb every week, am I passing a smooth carpet of green grass (where most of the watering we do is run-off) or am I passing some flowers designed by nature to encourage bird and insect life?
These are the ideas Tallamy presents in his book. While many of the plants and grasses he promotes aren't as pretty as those wild pink hybird coneflowers showing off in the garden next to the Japanese Beetle attracting zinnias, they are made to work in collaboration with other things found naturally in Michigan. Ever wonder where all the birds in your backyard went? Take a look around and see what might keep them there--do they have natural shelter to dwell in and a plethora of insects to feast on? If the answer is no, then you might consider upping your "green-ness".
NOTE: Doug Tallamy will speak at a free, day-long conference held on October 11, 2008 at the Kalamazoo Nature Center and sponsored by Kalamazoo's Wild Ones.
Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens