Top Ten Things That Are Recycled and Shouldn’t Be

Recycling is a great way to reduce waste and protect the environment, but not everything can or should be recycled. In fact, some items that you might think are recyclable can actually contaminate or damage the recycling process, making it less efficient and more costly. In this blog post, we will look at the top ten things that are recycled and shouldn’t be, and what you can do instead to dispose of them properly.

1. Aerosol Cans

Aerosol cans can be recycled, but only if they are completely empty. Otherwise, they can pose a fire or explosion hazard at the recycling facility. If you have any leftover product in your aerosol cans, you should use it up or dispose of it as hazardous waste. You can also look for alternatives that don’t come in aerosol cans, such as pump sprays or solid products¹.

2. Batteries

Batteries shouldn’t go in with your conventional recycling. They contain toxic chemicals and metals that can leak and pollute the environment. They also require special handling and processing to recover the valuable materials inside. You should take your batteries to a designated collection point or a battery recycling program. You can also switch to rechargeable batteries or solar-powered devices to reduce your battery waste².

3. Pizza Boxes

Pizza boxes are made of cardboard, which is recyclable, but the problem is the grease that gets absorbed in them. Grease can interfere with the paper fibers and make them less suitable for recycling. It can also contaminate other recyclable materials and lower their quality. If your pizza box is clean and dry, you can recycle it. If it is greasy or has food residue, you should compost it or throw it in the trash³.

4. Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is a type of plastic film that is used to protect fragile items during shipping or storage. It is not recyclable in most curbside programs, as it can clog the sorting machines and cause problems. You should reuse your bubble wrap as much as possible, or donate it to a local business or organization that can use it. You can also look for eco-friendly alternatives, such as paper, cardboard, or biodegradable packing peanuts⁴.

5. Empty Deodorant Containers

Empty deodorant containers are tricky to recycle, as they are often made of a combination of plastic, metal, and cardboard. These materials need to be separated before they can be recycled, which is not easy to do. You should check with your local recycling program to see if they accept deodorant containers, and if not, you should throw them in the trash. You can also try making your own deodorant or buying deodorant that comes in recyclable or compostable packaging⁵.

6. Dental Floss and Containers

Dental floss is not recyclable, as it is too small and thin to be sorted and processed. It can also get tangled in the recycling machinery and cause damage. Dental floss containers are usually made of plastic, which can be recycled, but you need to remove the metal cutter and any leftover floss before you do so. You can also opt for dental floss that is made of natural materials, such as silk or bamboo, and comes in reusable or biodegradable containers.

7. Scrap Metal

Scrap metal, such as wire hangers, frying pans, or microwaves, should not go in your regular recycling bin. They can damage the recycling equipment and pose a safety risk for the workers. Scrap metal can be recycled, but it needs to be taken to a specialized facility or a scrap metal dealer. You can also donate or sell your scrap metal to someone who can use it or repair it.

8. Textiles

Textiles, such as clothes, towels, or curtains, are not accepted in most recycling programs, as they are made of different types of fibers that are hard to separate and recycle. They can also contaminate other recyclable materials and reduce their quality. You should donate or sell your textiles that are in good condition, or repurpose them into something else. You can also compost your textiles that are made of natural fibers, such as cotton or wool.

9. Ceramics

Ceramics, such as mugs, plates, or pots, are not recyclable, as they are made of clay and other materials that have a different melting point and composition than glass. They can also break and damage the recycling machinery and the glass products. You should reuse or repair your ceramics that are still functional, or donate or sell them to someone who can use them. You can also break your ceramics into small pieces and use them for crafts or gardening.

10. Styrofoam

Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, is a type of plastic foam that is used for packaging, insulation, or food containers. It is not recyclable in most curbside programs, as it is bulky, lightweight, and difficult to process. It can also break into small pieces and pollute the environment and harm wildlife. You should avoid using Styrofoam as much as possible, or take it to a drop-off location or a mail-back program that accepts it. You can also look for alternatives that are made of paper, cardboard, or cornstarch.


Recycling is a good practice, but it is not always the best option. Some items that are recycled and shouldn’t be can cause more harm than good to the environment and the recycling system. You should always check the rules and guidelines of your local recycling program before you put something in the recycling bin. You should also try to reduce, reuse, and compost your waste as much as possible, and choose products that are eco-friendly and recyclable. By doing so, you can help make the world a cleaner and greener place. 🌎

¹: 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not — Family Handyman
²: 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not — Family Handyman
³: 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not — Family Handyman
⁴: 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not — Family Handyman
⁵: 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But Aren’t – Grove Collaborative
: 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But Aren’t – Grove Collaborative
: 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not — Family Handyman
: 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not — Family Handyman
: 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not — Family Handyman
: 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not — Family Handyman

Source: Conversation with Bing, 2/16/2024
(1) What can and can’t be recycled – BBC.
(2) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not.
(3) 20 Items That Shouldn’t Actually go in Your Recycling.
(4) Recycling: what you can and can’t recycle and why it’s so confusing.
(5) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But Aren’t – Grove Collaborative.
(6) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not.
(7) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not.
(8) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not.
(9) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not.
(10) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But Aren’t – Grove Collaborative.
(11) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But Aren’t – Grove Collaborative.
(12) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not.
(13) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not.
(14) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not.
(15) 11 Things You Think Are Recyclable But They’re Not.

How to Help Wildlife During a Heatwave

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change, and they can pose serious threats to wildlife. Animals may struggle to find water, food and shelter in the scorching temperatures, and some may even die from dehydration or heat stress. Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can help wildlife survive and thrive during a heatwave, whether you have a garden, a balcony or just a window sill. Here are some tips to make a difference for your furry, feathered and scaly friends.

Provide water

Water is essential for life, and even more so during a heatwave. Many animals rely on natural water sources such as ponds, streams and rivers, but these may dry up or become polluted in extreme heat. You can help by providing clean and fresh water in your outdoor space, using shallow dishes, birdbaths, fountains or mini ponds. Make sure to change the water regularly and keep it in the shade if possible. You can also add some stones, marbles or sticks to the water containers to help smaller animals climb out if they fall in. According to The Conversation1, adding a drip jug near the birdbath can also attract birds by making a splashing sound.

Provide shelter

Another way to help wildlife during a heatwave is to offer them some shade and protection from the sun. You can do this by planting trees, shrubs and flowers that create natural habitats and cover for different species. You can also leave some areas of your garden uncut or wild, as this will provide food and shelter for insects, birds and small mammals. Alternatively, you can create artificial shelters using logs, rocks, bricks or boxes, and place them in cool and shady spots. Treehugger2 suggests that a lush garden can also provide shade for animals that may seek refuge under the plants.

Provide food

Food can be scarce for wildlife during a heatwave, as plants may wilt and insects may die. You can help by watering your plants regularly and using mulch to keep the soil moist. This will benefit both the plants and the animals that feed on them. You can also supplement the natural food sources by putting out some birdseed, suet, fruit or nuts in your garden or balcony. However, be careful not to overfeed or attract unwanted pests, and avoid foods that are harmful or unhealthy for wildlife, such as bread, milk or chocolate.

Create habitats

In addition to helping wildlife during a heatwave, you can also prepare for the long term by creating habitats that support biodiversity and resilience. Many animals are moving or adapting to new areas as the climate changes, and they need suitable places to live and breed. You can create habitats by planting native species that attract pollinators and provide food and shelter for wildlife. You can also install nest boxes, bird feeders, insect hotels or hedgehog houses to encourage wildlife to visit or stay in your garden. Dorset Eye3 recommends choosing plants that are drought-tolerant and can cope with extreme weather conditions.

Reduce the heat

Finally, you can help wildlife by reducing the heat in your local environment. Urban areas tend to be hotter than rural areas due to the heat island effect, which is caused by buildings, roads and other surfaces that absorb and radiate heat. This can make life harder for wildlife that live in or near cities. You can reduce the heat island effect by planting more greenery, using reflective or permeable materials, installing green roofs or walls, or reducing your energy consumption and emissions. By doing so, you will not only help wildlife but also yourself and your community.

Heatwaves are challenging for both humans and animals, but we can all do our part to help wildlife cope and survive. By providing water, shelter, food, habitats and reducing the heat in your outdoor space, you can make a positive impact on the environment and enjoy the company of nature’s creatures.

1Five ways to help wildlife in heatwaves – The Conversation 2How to Help Wildlife and Pets During a Heat Wave – Treehugger 3How to help wildlife during a heatwave – Dorset Eye

The Impact of Global Warming on Arctic Wildlife

The Arctic is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. This has profound consequences for the wildlife that lives there, as well as for the people who depend on them. In this blog post, we will explore some of the effects of global warming on Arctic wildlife and what can be done to protect them.

Sea ice loss

One of the most visible impacts of global warming on Arctic wildlife is the loss of sea ice, which is critical for many species such as polar bears, walruses, seals, and narwhals. Sea ice provides a platform for hunting, resting, breeding, and migrating. It also reflects sunlight and helps regulate the climate.

According to WWF Arctic1, sea ice is projected to nearly disappear in the summer within a generation. This means that ice-dependent species will face increasing challenges to survive and reproduce. For example, polar bears could face starvation and reproductive failure even in far northern Canada by 21001Walruses are forced to haul out on land in large numbers, where they are vulnerable to predators and stampedes1Narwhals may lose their unique feeding habitats and become more exposed to human activities1.

Vegetation change

Another impact of global warming on Arctic wildlife is the change in vegetation, which affects the food web and the habitat of many animals. As the Arctic becomes warmer and greener, shrubs are expanding and replacing mosses and lichens on the tundra1This may benefit some herbivores such as moose and snowshoe hares, but it may also reduce the quality and availability of food for others such as caribou and muskoxen1Warmer winter temperatures have also increased the layers of ice in snow, making it harder for these animals to dig up plants1.

Moreover, vegetation change may disrupt the timing and interactions between plants and pollinators, which are essential for plant reproduction and diversity. For instance, at Zackenberg research station in north-east Greenland, scientists found that important pollinating flies declined by 80% between 1996 and 20141, possibly due to a mismatch between plant flowering and pollinator flight activity.

Migration change

A third impact of global warming on Arctic wildlife is the change in migration patterns, which affects the distribution and abundance of many species. As the climate changes, some animals may shift their ranges northward or to higher altitudes to find suitable conditions. For example, fish stocks in the Barents Sea are moving north at up to 160 kilometers per decade as a result of climate change1. This may have implications for the predators that rely on them, such as seabirds and marine mammals.

Other animals may face difficulties in completing their long-distance migrations due to altered environmental cues, habitat loss, or human disturbance. For example, shorebirds or waders are among the most diverse and threatened groups of birds on the Arctic tundra2. They migrate thousands of kilometers between their breeding grounds in the high latitudes and their wintering grounds in warmer regions. However, more than half of all Arctic shorebird species are declining2, partly due to habitat degradation along their migratory routes.

What can we do?

The impacts of global warming on Arctic wildlife are diverse, unpredictable, and significant. They pose serious threats to the survival and well-being of these animals, as well as to the ecological balance and cultural values of the region. However, there are also opportunities for action and adaptation.

One of the most urgent actions is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally, which is the main driver of climate change. This requires international cooperation and commitment from governments, businesses, and individuals. By limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we can avoid some of the worst impacts on Arctic wildlife and ecosystems.

Another action is to conserve and restore habitats for Arctic wildlife, both on land and at sea. This includes protecting key areas from development, pollution, and overexploitation; restoring degraded habitats; and creating corridors and buffers for wildlife movement. This can help maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as support local livelihoods and cultures.

A third action is to monitor and research Arctic wildlife populations and trends, as well as their responses to climate change and other stressors. This can help improve our understanding and awareness of the challenges and opportunities facing these animals, and inform adaptive management and conservation strategies. This also requires collaboration and participation from scientists, governments, communities, and organizations.


Global warming is having a profound impact on Arctic wildlife, affecting their behavior, distribution, and survival. These impacts are not only detrimental to the animals themselves, but also to the people who depend on them and the planet as a whole. However, there is still hope and time to act. By reducing emissions, conserving habitats, and monitoring wildlife, we can help protect and preserve the Arctic and its wildlife for generations to come.

Wildlife Management in Urban Areas

Urban areas are often considered to be devoid of wildlife, but this is not true. Cities are home to a variety of plants and animals, some of which are native and some of which are introduced or invasive. Urban wildlife can provide many benefits to humans, such as pollination, pest control, recreation and education. However, urban wildlife can also pose many challenges, such as conflicts with human activities, health and safety risks, habitat loss and degradation, and biodiversity decline.

How to Manage Urban Wildlife

Managing urban wildlife is not an easy task. It requires a balance between conservation and control, as well as collaboration among various stakeholders, such as government agencies, non-governmental organizations, researchers, landowners and residents. Some of the techniques that have been used historically to restore and manage wildlife in urban areas include1:

  • Passage of laws and regulations to protect wildlife and their habitats
  • Establishment of refuges and corridors to provide safe havens for wildlife
  • Control of predators and invasive species to reduce competition and predation
  • Reintroduction of native species to restore ecological functions
  • Feeding and watering of wildlife to supplement their natural resources
  • Erection of nesting structures and artificial habitats to enhance breeding success
  • Habitat restoration and management to improve the quality and quantity of wildlife habitats

Examples of Urban Wildlife Management

Many cities around the world have implemented successful urban wildlife management programs that aim to conserve biodiversity and foster coexistence between humans and wildlife. Here are some examples234:

  • In New York City, the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program works with local communities to improve access to nature and green space, provide environmental education and outdoor recreation opportunities, and address social and environmental justice issues. The program also supports the management of more than 100 national wildlife refuges located within 25 miles of urban areas.
  • In Leipzig, Germany, peregrine falcons have been reintroduced to the city after being extirpated by pesticides in the 1960s. The falcons have adapted well to the urban environment, nesting on tall buildings and feeding on pigeons and other birds. The falcons survive and reproduce more easily in cities than in rural areas, due to the abundance of prey and the absence of natural predators.
  • In Singapore, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, wildlife management is integrated into urban planning and development. The city has created a network of parks, gardens, reservoirs and green corridors that connect natural habitats and support a rich diversity of wildlife. The city also employs various methods to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, such as fencing, signage, education and enforcement.


Urban wildlife management is a complex and dynamic field that requires constant monitoring and adaptation. It is important to recognize that urban areas are not biological deserts, but rather potential havens for wildlife. By applying sound scientific principles and engaging with diverse stakeholders, we can create more livable cities for both humans and wildlife.

10 Points on Conservation of Wildlife

Wildlife conservation is the practice of protecting plant and animal species and their habitats in order to maintain healthy wildlife species or populations and to restore, protect or enhance natural ecosystemsAd1. Wildlife conservation is important for many reasons, such as:

To conserve wildlife, we need to take action at different levels: individual, local, national, regional, and global. Here are 10 points on how we can conserve wildlife:

  1. Support wildlife conservation organizations that work to protect wildlife and their habitats, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Conservation International (CI), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). You can donate, volunteer, advocate, or participate in their campaigns and initiatives23.
  2. Educate yourself and others about wildlife conservation issues and solutions. You can read books, articles, reports, blogs, or watch documentaries and videos about wildlife conservation. You can also visit zoos, aquariums, wildlife sanctuaries, or national parks that have educational programs and exhibits on wildlife conservationAd13.
  3. Reduce your ecological footprint and live more sustainably. You can conserve water and energy, reduce waste and pollution, use renewable sources of energy, buy organic and local products, avoid products that harm wildlife or their habitats (such as palm oil or ivory), recycle and reuse materials, and choose green transportation optionsAd13.
  4. Support or join community-based conservation efforts that involve local people in managing and benefiting from wildlife resources. You can support projects that promote ecotourism, community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), participatory monitoring and evaluation (PME), or payments for ecosystem services (PES)24.
  5. Advocate for wildlife conservation policies and laws that protect wildlife and their habitats from threats. You can contact your representatives or policymakers to voice your support for wildlife conservation legislation or regulations. You can also sign petitions or join campaigns that call for action on wildlife conservation issues23.
  6. Report any illegal or suspicious activities that harm wildlife or their habitats to the authorities. You can report poaching, trafficking, hunting, fishing, logging, mining, or other activities that violate wildlife laws or regulations to the relevant agencies or organizations. You can also use online platforms or apps that allow you to report wildlife crimes anonymously23.
  7. Adopt or sponsor a wild animal or a habitat that needs protection. You can adopt or sponsor an endangered species or a habitat through various organizations that offer these programs. You can also name a species or a habitat after yourself or someone else as a gift or a tribute23.
  8. Plant native trees and plants that provide food and shelter for wildlife in your garden or backyard. You can also create a wildlife-friendly habitat by providing water sources, nesting boxes, feeders, or other features that attract and support wildlife. You can also join community groups that plant trees or restore habitats in your areaAd13.
  9. Participate in citizen science projects that collect data on wildlife and their habitats. You can join projects that involve observing, counting, tagging, tracking, photographing, or recording wildlife or their habitats using various tools and methods. You can also share your data with researchers or organizations that use them for conservation purposesAd13.
  10. Celebrate and appreciate wildlife and their habitats by visiting them or enjoying them in various ways. You can go hiking, camping, birdwatching, snorkeling, diving, or safariing in natural areas that have rich wildlife diversity. You can also enjoy wildlife art, music, literature, or photography that showcase the beauty and diversity of wildlifeAd13.

By following these 10 points, you can make a difference for wildlife conservation and help ensure the survival of these species and the health of our planet.

Ad1Wildlife Conservation – National Geographic Society 2Wildlife Conservation | Initiatives | WWF 3Understanding Conservation | National Wildlife Federation 4Wildlife conservation – Wikipedia

The Nostalgia of Percolated Coffee

Do you remember the smell of freshly brewed coffee filling your kitchen in the morning? The sound of bubbling water and the sight of steam rising from the spout? If you grew up with a coffee percolator, you probably have fond memories of this classic brewing method that dates back to the early 1800s.

Percolated coffee is made by cycling hot water through a basket of ground coffee beans, creating a strong and aromatic brew. Unlike drip or pour-over methods, percolated coffee is brewed multiple times, resulting in a richer flavor and more caffeine. Percolators can be used on the stovetop, over a campfire, or plugged into an electric outlet.

Percolators were once the most popular way to make coffee in America, until they were replaced by automatic drip machines in the 1970s. But percolators have never gone out of style completely, and they have experienced a revival in recent years as more people seek to rediscover the nostalgia and simplicity of this old-fashioned method.

If you want to learn how to make percolated coffee, here are some tips and steps to follow:

  • Choose a good quality percolator that suits your needs. You can find percolators in different sizes, materials, and designs. Some have glass knobs on the lid that let you see the color of the brew, while others have indicators that tell you when the coffee is ready. Some have permanent filters, while others require paper filters. Some are electric, while others are manual.
  • Grind your coffee beans to a medium-coarse consistency, similar to what you would use for an espresso machine. If the grounds are too fine, they might clog the filter or escape into the brew, making it bitter and gritty. If the grounds are too coarse, they might not extract enough flavor and aroma from the water.
  • Fill the bottom chamber of the percolator with cold water, up to the maximum level indicated by the manufacturer. Do not overfill or underfill the percolator, as this might affect the brewing process and the quality of the coffee.
  • Place the filter basket on top of the bottom chamber and fill it with the ground coffee. Use about one tablespoon of coffee per cup of water, or adjust according to your taste preference. Shake the basket gently to level the grounds and avoid creating air pockets.
  • Assemble the percolator by screwing on the top chamber with the spout and placing it on your heat source. If you are using an electric percolator, plug it in and turn it on. If you are using a stovetop or campfire percolator, set the heat to medium-high and watch for steam to come out of the spout.
  • Percolate the coffee for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you like it. You can check the color of the brew through the glass knob or indicator if your percolator has one. You can also listen for the sound of bubbling water, which means that the water is boiling and passing through the grounds. The longer you percolate, the stronger and darker your coffee will be.
  • Turn off or remove your percolator from the heat source when your coffee is done. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the grounds to settle at the bottom of the basket. Carefully pour your coffee into your favorite mug and enjoy!

Percolated coffee is not for everyone, but it has its loyal fans who appreciate its bold and nostalgic taste. If you are looking for a new way to experience coffee, or if you want to relive some childhood memories, give percolated coffee a try. You might be surprised by how much you like it!


How to Percolate Coffee: 3 Tips for Using a Percolator

How to Use a Percolator: Step-by-Step Instructions

How to make percolated coffee

How to Make Coffee in a Percolator: Get the Strongest Brew Possible!

How to Create a Butterfly Habitat in Your Garden

Butterflies are beautiful and beneficial insects that can brighten up any garden. They also play an important role in pollinating flowers and crops. However, many butterfly species are facing threats from habitat loss, climate change, pesticides and diseases. Fortunately, you can help them by creating a butterfly habitat in your garden. Here are some easy steps to follow:

1. Choose a sunny and sheltered location

Butterflies need warmth and sunlight to fly and feed. They also need protection from strong winds, rain and predators. Choose a spot in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sun per day and has some trees or shrubs nearby to provide cover. You can also plant a windbreak of dense conifers or add a fence or trellis to block the wind.

2. Plant nectar-rich flowers

Butterflies feed on nectar, a sweet liquid produced by flowers. Nectar provides them with energy and nutrients. To attract butterflies to your garden, plant a variety of flowers that have different colors, shapes and blooming times. Butterflies tend to prefer flowers that are white, yellow, pink, orange, red or purple. Some examples of native plants that are good for butterflies are black-eyed Susan, bee balm, blazing star, coneflower and Joe-Pye weed. Some examples of non-native plants that are good for butterflies are cosmos, zinnia and Mexican sunflower. Try to group your plants by color and have something blooming throughout the growing season.

3. Provide host plants for caterpillars

Butterflies lay their eggs on specific plants that their caterpillars can eat. These plants are called host plants. Without host plants, there will be no butterflies. Each butterfly species has its own host plant preferences. For example, monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed plants. To create a butterfly habitat, you need to include some host plants in your garden as well. You can find out which host plants are suitable for your area by visiting websites like Monarch Joint Venture or Butterfly Conservation.

4. Add water and minerals

Butterflies also need water and minerals to survive. They get water from dew, raindrops and puddles. They get minerals from mud, sand, compost and salt. To provide water and minerals for butterflies, you can create a simple butterfly puddle in your garden. Fill a shallow container or saucer with mud or sand. Ensure the mud and sand are free of fertilizer and pesticides. For a good source of minerals, sprinkle in compost or natural sea salt. Fill the container with water until the mixture is moist. You don’t want the water level to get too high so that the butterflies have nowhere to perch.

5. Monitor and enjoy

Once you have created your butterfly habitat, you can monitor and enjoy the butterflies that visit your garden. You can use a field guide or an app to identify the different species and learn more about their life cycles and behaviors. You can also participate in citizen science projects like iNaturalist or eButterfly to record your observations and contribute to butterfly conservation.

Creating a butterfly habitat in your garden is not only fun and rewarding, but also beneficial for the environment and biodiversity. By following these easy steps, you can make your garden a haven for these amazing insects.


1Easy Steps to Creating a Beautiful Butterfly Habitat 2How to create butterfly habitat in your garden | Illinois Extension 3Behind The Scenes: Build Your Own Butterfly Habitat – YouTube 4Habitat Creation | Butterfly Conservation 5Butterfly Garden: How to Design One – Lawnstarter 6Create Habitat for Monarchs • Monarch Joint Venture

How to Create a Humane Backyard for Wildlife

Do you love watching birds, butterflies, bees and other wildlife in your backyard? Do you want to help them thrive and coexist peacefully with you and your pets? Do you care about the environment and want to reduce your impact on it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might want to consider creating a humane backyard.

A humane backyard is a natural habitat with plenty of food, water and cover that gives wildlife a safe place to live free from pesticides, chemicals, free-roaming pets, inhumane practices and other threats. And it’s so easy to build! You don’t need a lot of space or money to make a difference. You can turn any outdoor space, from a small balcony to a large yard, into a haven for wildlife.

In this blog post, I’ll share some tips and tricks on how to create a humane backyard, based on the resources from The Humane Society of the United States1. I’ll also show you some examples of how other people have transformed their outdoor spaces into wildlife sanctuaries.

Provide water

Water is essential for all living beings, especially in hot or dry seasons. You can provide water for wildlife by setting up a birdbath, a fountain, a pond or even a shallow dish. Make sure to keep the water fresh and clean, and place it in a shady spot where animals can drink and bathe safely. You can also add some rocks or sticks to the water to help insects and amphibians get in and out.

Offer natural food sources

The best way to feed wildlife is to plant native plants, bushes and trees that produce seeds, fruits, nuts, nectar and pollen. Native plants are adapted to your local climate and soil, and they attract and support the animals that coevolved with them. You can also supplement your natural food sources with birdfeeders, especially in winter when food is scarce. Choose feeders that are easy to clean and refill, and that prevent waste and mold. Avoid feeding bread, crackers or other human foods that can harm wildlife.

Skip the lawn chemicals

Many lawn chemicals, such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, are toxic to wildlife, pets and people. They can also contaminate the soil and water sources. Instead of using chemicals, opt for organic or natural methods of lawn care. For example, you can use compost or mulch to enrich the soil, pull out weeds by hand or use vinegar as a natural herbicide, and attract beneficial insects that prey on pests.

Make your windows bird-safe

One of the biggest threats to birds is window collisions. Birds can’t see glass and often mistake reflections for open sky or vegetation. To prevent birds from flying into your windows, you can apply decals, stickers or tape to the glass, hang curtains or blinds inside, or install screens or netting outside. You can also move your birdfeeders closer or farther away from the windows, so that birds have less momentum or more time to avoid them.

Shrink your lawn a little

Lawns are not very friendly to wildlife. They require a lot of water, mowing and chemicals, and they offer little food or shelter for animals. By reducing the size of your lawn, you can save water, time and money, and create more space for wildlife habitat. You can replace some of your grass with native plants, wildflowers, groundcovers or even vegetables. You can also leave some areas unmowed or let them grow naturally.

Build a brush pile

A brush pile is a simple way to provide extra shelter for wildlife. It’s basically a pile of leaves, twigs, branches and other yard debris that creates hiding places and nesting materials for animals. You can build a brush pile in a corner of your yard or under a tree or shrub. Make sure to keep it away from buildings or fire hazards. You can also add some rocks or logs to create more diversity and stability.

Be a friend to bees

Bees are vital pollinators that help plants reproduce and produce fruits and seeds. They also provide food for many other animals. Unfortunately, bees are facing many threats such as habitat loss, pesticides and diseases. You can help bees by providing safe and healthy habitat for them. Plant bee-friendly flowers that bloom throughout the seasons, such as lavender, sunflower, mint and clover. Avoid using pesticides or herbicides that can harm bees. Provide water sources with landing pads for bees to drink from. You can also install a bee house or hive in your yard if you have enough space and interest.

Put up a bat house

Bats are amazing animals that pollinate plants, disperse seeds and eat insects. They are also very beneficial for humans as they help control pests such as mosquitoes and moths. You can attract bats to your yard by putting up a bat house. A bat house is a wooden box with narrow slits that provide roosting space for bats. You can buy a bat house or make your own following some simple instructions. Place the bat house on a pole or a building, facing south or southeast, at least 10 feet above the ground. Avoid placing it near bright lights or noisy areas.

Make your swimming pool safe

Backyard pools can be deadly for wildlife. Animals can fall into the water and drown, or get trapped by pool covers or skimmers. You can make your pool safer for wildlife by taking some precautions. For example, you can install a fence around your pool to prevent animals from entering. You can also add ramps, ladders or ropes to the water to help animals get out. You can cover your pool when not in use, but make sure the cover is tight and secure. You can also check your pool regularly for any animals that might need help.

Help out bugs (they’re animals too!)

Insects make up 70% of the animal kingdom and most of them are harmless or even helpful. They pollinate plants, decompose organic matter, provide food for other animals and more. You can attract beneficial insects to your yard by planting a variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables. You can also create habitats for insects by leaving some dead wood, rocks, leaves or straw in your yard. For insect control, look for eco- and animal-friendly approaches, such as using natural repellents, traps or predators.

Keep cats inside

Cats are wonderful companions, but they can also be predators to wildlife. Cats can kill or injure birds, rodents, reptiles and other animals, even if they are well-fed and have bells on their collars. Keeping your cat indoors is the best way to protect wildlife, as well as your cat’s health and safety. Indoor cats are less likely to get lost, injured, sick or killed by cars, dogs or other dangers. You can make your cat happy indoors by providing toys, scratching posts, windowsills and other enrichment.

Change with the seasons

Maintaining a humane backyard is not a one-time project, but an ongoing process that changes with the seasons. As the weather and the wildlife needs change throughout the year, you can adjust your backyard accordingly. For example, you can clean up your yard in fall, winter and spring, but leave some leaves, stalks and seeds for wildlife to use. You can also provide extra food and water in winter when natural sources are scarce. You can also monitor your backyard for any new wildlife visitors or problems that might arise.

Find humane solutions to any wildlife problems

Sometimes, you might encounter some wildlife problems in your backyard, such as birds nesting in your attic, squirrels digging in your garden or raccoons raiding your trash cans. Instead of resorting to harmful methods such as trapping, poisoning or shooting, you can find humane solutions that respect both the animals and your property. The Humane Society of the United States has a wealth of resources on how to deal with common wildlife conflicts in a peaceful and effective way2.

Creating a humane backyard is not only good for wildlife, but also for you and your community. It’s a rewarding and enjoyable way to connect with nature and appreciate its beauty and diversity. It’s also a way to contribute to the conservation of our planet and its precious resources. By creating a humane backyard, you are making a difference for yourself and for all living beings.

1Humane Backyard | The Humane Society of the United States 2Find answers to wildlife problems | The Humane Society of the United States

The Dos and Don’ts of Adopting a Disabled Animal

Are you thinking of adopting a disabled animal? If so, you are not alone. Many animal lovers are drawn to special-needs pets who need a safe and loving home. However, adopting a disabled animal is not a decision to be taken lightly. It requires time, patience, commitment and resources to provide the best care for your new furry friend. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you make an informed and responsible choice.

Do: Research the disability and the specific needs of the animal

Before you adopt a disabled animal, you should learn as much as you can about their condition and what kind of care they will need. For example, if the animal is blind, deaf, or has neurological or orthopedic issues, you should find out how to make your home safe and comfortable for them, what kind of training and stimulation they will need, and what kind of medical care and expenses they will incur. You should also consult with your veterinarian and get a specific diagnosis and treatment plan for your pet1.

Don’t: Assume that a disabled animal is unadoptable or unhappy

Many people may think that a disabled animal is doomed to a miserable life or that no one would want them. However, this is far from the truth. Disabled animals can have a great quality of life and enjoy themselves as much as any other pet. They can adapt to their limitations and show resilience, courage and love. They can also work their magic on their adopters and enrich their lives in many ways2. As long as they receive proper care and attention, disabled animals can be happy and healthy companions.

Do: Consider your lifestyle and resources

Adopting a disabled animal is a long-term commitment that will affect your lifestyle and budget. You should be honest with yourself about how much time, energy and money you can devote to your pet. You should also consider your family situation, living space, work schedule and travel plans. Some disabled animals may require more supervision, assistance, equipment or medication than others. You should be prepared to make adjustments and sacrifices to accommodate your pet’s needs.

Don’t: Adopt a disabled animal out of pity or impulse

While it is admirable to want to help a disabled animal in need, you should not adopt one out of pity or impulse. Adopting a disabled animal is not a way to save them or make yourself feel good. It is a serious responsibility that requires careful thought and planning. You should only adopt a disabled animal if you are truly committed to providing them with a loving home for the rest of their life. You should also make sure that you are compatible with the animal’s personality, temperament and energy level.

Do: Seek support and advice from experts and other adopters

Adopting a disabled animal can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. You can seek support and advice from experts and other adopters who have experience with special-needs pets. You can find online forums, blogs, groups and resources that can offer you tips, guidance and encouragement345. You can also network with local shelters, rescue groups and veterinarians who can help you find the right match for you and your pet.

Don’t: Give up on your disabled pet

Adopting a disabled pet can be rewarding, but it can also be frustrating at times. You may encounter difficulties, setbacks or surprises along the way. You may feel overwhelmed, stressed or discouraged by your pet’s challenges or behavior. However, you should not give up on your disabled pet or regret your decision. Remember that your pet needs you more than ever and that they appreciate your love and care. Remember that every challenge can be overcome with patience, perseverance and positivity. Remember that every day with your disabled pet is a gift and an opportunity to grow together.

Adopting a disabled animal is not for everyone, but it can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life. If you are ready to take on this challenge and share your life with a special-needs pet, you will not regret it. You will discover a new level of compassion, joy and gratitude that only a disabled animal can bring.

1Rehoming a Special-Needs Pet | Best Friends Animal Society 2A special place where disabled animals enjoy life – Rolling Dog Farm 35 Things to Know About Adopting a Disabled Pet – 4Would You Adopt a Pet with Disabilities? – My Animals 5No Regrets in Adopting a Disabled Dog – Walkin’ Pets Blog

How Emotional Support Animals Can Help You Cope With Mental Health Challenges

If you are struggling with a mental or emotional condition, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD, you might benefit from having an emotional support animal (ESA). An ESA is not just a pet, but a companion that provides comfort and relief to you through their presence. Unlike service dogs, ESAs do not need to be trained to perform specific tasks related to your disability. They just need to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional who can attest that you need the animal for your well-being.

What Are the Benefits of Having an ESA?

According to the American Kennel ClubAd1, some of the benefits of having an ESA include:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety levels
  • Providing social support and companionship
  • Enhancing self-esteem and confidence
  • Improving mood and motivation
  • Encouraging physical activity and exercise
  • Creating a sense of purpose and responsibility

Research has shown that interacting with animals can have positive effects on our physical and mental health. For example, petting an animal can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels2Animals can also stimulate the release of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding and trust2Furthermore, animals can provide emotional support by listening without judgment, offering unconditional love, and distracting us from negative thoughts and feelings2.

What Are the Requirements for Having an ESA?

To qualify for having an ESA, you need to have a diagnosed mental or emotional disability that significantly limits your ability to function normally in daily life. You also need to obtain a letter from a licensed mental health professional (such as a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist) that states that you need the animal for your mental health. The letter should include the following information3:

  • The professional’s name, license number, and contact information
  • The date of the letter and its expiration (usually one year)
  • A confirmation that you have a disability under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
  • A statement that the animal is necessary for your treatment or well-being
  • A description of how the animal helps you cope with your condition

You may need to present this letter to your landlord, airline, or other entity that requires proof of your need for an ESA. However, you do not need to disclose your specific diagnosis or personal details to anyone.

What Are the Rules for Having an ESA?

Unlike service dogs, ESAs are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which means they do not have the same rights and privileges as service dogs. However, there are some federal laws that protect ESAs in certain situations.

One of them is the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in housing. Under the FHA, landlords must make reasonable accommodations for people with ESAs, such as waiving pet fees or allowing pets in no-pet policies3However, landlords can still deny ESAs if they pose a threat to the health or safety of others, cause significant damage to the property, or create an undue burden on the landlord3.

Another law is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which allows people with disabilities to travel with their ESAs on flights. However, as of January 11th 2021, airlines are no longer required to accommodate ESAs as service animalsAd1Instead, they can treat them as pets and charge fees or impose restrictions on themAd1. Therefore, it is important to check with your airline before flying with your ESA.

How to Choose an ESA?

There are no specific rules or criteria for choosing an ESA. The most important thing is that the animal is compatible with your lifestyle, personality, and needs. You should also consider the following factors:

  • The type of animal: ESAs can be any type of pet, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, or even reptiles4. However, some animals may be more suitable than others depending on your preferences and circumstances. For example, dogs tend to be more social and active than cats, but they also require more training and care. Cats tend to be more independent and low-maintenance than dogs, but they may not be as affectionate or responsive.
  • The breed of animal: If you choose a dog or a cat as your ESA, you should research different breeds and their characteristics. Some breeds may be more friendly, calm, or adaptable than others. For example, Labrador Retrievers are known for being loyal, gentle, and easy-going; Poodles are known for being intelligent, hypoallergenic, and versatile; Persian cats are known for being quiet, sweet, and cuddly; Siamese cats are known for being vocal, playful, and curious.
  • The temperament of animal: Each animal has its own personality and behavior, regardless of its type or breed. You should look for an animal that matches your energy level, mood, and expectations. For example, if you are looking for a calm and quiet companion, you may not want a hyperactive or noisy animal. If you are looking for a playful and adventurous partner, you may not want a shy or timid animal.
  • The health of animal: You should make sure that the animal you choose is healthy and well-cared for. You should take the animal to a veterinarian for a check-up, vaccinations, and spaying/neutering. You should also provide the animal with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper grooming. A healthy and happy animal will be more likely to provide you with emotional support and comfort.

How to Care for Your ESA?

Having an ESA is not only a privilege, but also a responsibility. You should treat your ESA with respect, kindness, and love. You should also follow these tips to care for your ESA:

  • Provide a safe and comfortable environment for your ESA. Make sure they have enough space, water, food, toys, and bedding. Keep them away from potential hazards, such as toxic plants, chemicals, or wires.
  • Train your ESA to behave well and follow basic commands. Use positive reinforcement, such as praise, treats, or toys, to reward good behavior. Avoid using punishment, such as yelling, hitting, or scolding, to correct bad behavior. Be consistent and patient with your training.
  • Socialize your ESA with other people and animals. Expose them to different situations, sounds, and smells. Help them overcome their fears and anxieties. Teach them how to be polite and friendly with others.
  • Respect the rights and feelings of others. Do not force your ESA on people who are allergic, afraid, or uncomfortable with animals. Do not let your ESA disturb or harm others or their property. Clean up after your ESA and dispose of their waste properly.
  • Follow the rules and regulations regarding ESAs. Obtain a valid letter from a licensed mental health professional that confirms your need for an ESA. Present the letter to your landlord, airline, or other entity that requires proof of your ESA. Check with local laws and policies before bringing your ESA to public places.


An emotional support animal can be a great source of comfort and relief for people with mental or emotional disabilities. However, having an ESA also comes with certain requirements and responsibilities. You should consult with a licensed mental health professional to determine if you qualify for an ESA and how to obtain one. You should also choose an animal that suits your needs and personality and take good care of them. By doing so, you can enjoy the benefits of having an ESA and improve your quality of life.

Ad1Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals – American Kennel Club 3Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals | ADA National Network 4Emotional support animal – Wikipedia 2Emotional Support Animals: How to Get One, Mental Health Benefits

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