A forest is one place where reduce, reuse and recycle are all done in an exemplary manner. Plants, or parts of plants, having lived their span of days or years, decompose into the earth or become a substrate for other organisms to speed up decomposition. All goes back to nature.
Leaves of the deciduous trees never go to waste in a forest. Neither do needles of mature coniferous trees like pine, all of which add to the humus or organic material in the forest floor.
Fallen trees or parts of them become homes for moss, which, over time, breaks down the tree, returning it to the earth.
Bark mushrooms take their place on trunks of dead or dying trees, breaking them down further as well.
The curious jelly-like slime mold also does its part on old branches and tree trunks. One such mold is called Witch's butter and according to Eastern European legend, if it appeared on one's door or gate, it meant one was targeted by a witch's spell.
Animals take advantage of the environment too, as insects invade trees and woodpeckers dig holes in search of them.
Then there is Usnea, or Old Man's Beard, which hangs from branches and trunks of old trees. It is a non-plant, consisting of algae and fungi in a mutually beneficial relationship. Its presence in a forest indicates the air is clean since Usnea absorbs pollutants and will die in extreme cases of pollution. Our ancestors used it for its antibiotic and anti-fungal properties and, even today, it is used in emergencies in the forest.
In my youth, I studied biology in university. Over my teaching career, I left teaching science and biology for administration and counselling. This past year, I have come to realize how much I enjoyed biology and missed it. I, too, am back to nature.