One Human’s Trash is Another Animal’s Treasure

Humans are working each and every day to help the environment; from discovering new energy sources to creating new companies that offer ‘green’ products and appliances. Everything is about innovation and new technologies when it comes to the human being ‘green’ and working to diminish our carbon footprint before it’s too late.

But there are some environmentalists that had the recycling instinct long before the human population came around. These are the natural environmentalists that always understood the fact that to maintain a healthy earth, they needed to clean their habitat.

Starting with the easiest species, birds claim the top-spot when it comes to being recyclers. Many types have adapted to human environments and create nests with whatever’s on hand to use, which includes anything from discard cans to string to newspapers and leftover plastic. Pigeons and gulls are always erasing the food waste that’s left behind by the human as well, cleaning everything from boardwalks to parking lots.

There are even some special birds, such as the Bowerbird hailing from New Guinea and Australia, that actually head straight to trash that’s colorful. bowerbirdFrom bottle caps to bright soda cans to colored glass, these natural recyclers actually make it a point to use the items to build elaborate nests to attract a mate. (The nests are sometimes so flashy that other birds have been known to roll their eyes and say: Man, I hate our neighbors!) The Bowerbird is not only a collector, however; the nest that the species makes actually withstands the brushfires that Australia is famous for. By constantly and meticulously cleaning up the trash around the area, the Bowerbird creates a fire break that can save humans.

From bird to crabs…The Hermit crab, unlike most, do not grow their own shell. So in order to protect themselves, they salvage whatever they can find from glass bottles to soda cans to shotgun shells, to use as their protective shell. And as the crab grows bigger, they seek out new shells – so in their own little way they are constantly recycling waste to use for their own homes.

Although spiders are usually not on anyone’s list when it comes to beauty or recycling. Orb-weaving spiders are a species that actually create eco-friendly spider webs. Types of species will use leftover debris to decorate their web. This way, they conceal the web and themselves from the approaching prey. And a majority of these orb-weavers rebuild their nests every single day, so by recycling they not only help their webs stay strong, but they keep the surrounding area clean.

Spiders may not be the ‘ickiest’ creature on this list; that title would have to go to the dung beetle. For them the ultimate waste is, well…waste, and they use this valuable tool to collect for other purposes: Homes are built, dinner is served, and their eggs are protected.

Although some readers may be cringing speaking about this ultimate waste receptacle, others know that the dung beetle is a huge help to the environment. It is a literal fact (USDA) that dung beetles save the U.S. cattle industry $380 million per year by repurposing livestock feces. And they are even on tap to aid in stopping global warming.

There are several species of octopi on the planet, and they are extremely intelligent. Images have actually been caught of octopi (the veined octopus), building shelters out of discarded debris. These homes are made from all kinds of waste left behind; coconut shells, abandoned sea shells, glass containers, as well as other jars thrown away as trash.

So as you do your best to recycle, just remember that there are critters out there in the world who do their part every single day to make this planet a whole lot healthier.