10 False Principles of Eco-Defenders We’ve Believed for Years

We often try to do the right things for our planet but since we don’t always have all the information, we might actually be hurting nature more than helping it. Buying fruit and vegetables that were produced locally, feeding animals, and buying an artificial tree for the New Year are all things we’re convinced are eco-friendly. However, there is a lot of harm being done to the environment by taking part in these seemingly good actions.

Smiles Tv has collected some of the most common stereotypes that prove why we shouldn’t necessarily do everything that we think is good.

1. Giving bread to ducks

Many people give food to ducks that live in ponds in cities, and most of the time, they give them bread. Yes, the picture of mothers and children giving bread to ducks looks nice but what happens to the birds?

  • Even a small amount of bread causes problems with the digestive system, such as twisted bowels that often leads to death.
  • Any food that people give to birds disrupts their diet and can lead to different problems. For example, their feathers might grow in the wrong way, taking away their ability to fly.
  • A duck that isn’t hungry and has a stomach that was deceived by “empty” foods won’t search for the natural food that it needs which will only make the situation worse.
  • Their wild instincts become less acute. The bird will stop looking for the food itself, and might even choose not to fly south in the fall because usually, the decrease in food encourages them to move.

If you still want to give some food to a duck, you can give it grains (oat, wheat, barley), a mix of oatmeal with fresh or boiled vegetables (beet, carrots) or a compound feed for birds bought in a pet store.

But the best thing you can do is just watch the birds. Because even if they eat the right food, too much of it will contaminate the water causing seaweed to grow more quickly, destroying the entire eco-system of the water reservoir.

2. Feeding pigeons

Pigeons have been living in cities for a very long time and their stomachs are not as sensitive as the stomachs of other birds. Bread won’t kill them, but it leads to the opposite problem: uncontrollable reproduction. There are no enemies of pigeons in cities and they have more than enough food.

The consequence of such an imbalance is infectious diseases that become inevitable when the number of birds is so high. Unfortunately, people can get infected with some of these diseases, like psittacosis.

3. Wrong installation of birdhouses

Giving a home to a defenseless bird seems like a great idea. However, people often help birds by making birdhouses, but end up hurting the trees: they choose the easiest way and just nail a birdhouse to the tree without realizing that they’re wounding it.

Birdhouses should only be hung or tied to trees, but never nailed. If you decide to make a birdhouse, the entrance should face the east or south-east. And make sure that there aren’t too many branches near the birdhouse. Cats can use them to get to the birds.

4. Feeding stray dogs

Stray dogs are a complex topic that is painful for animal lovers, citizens, and authorities alike. But one thing is for certain: a homeless dog is not always a dog that used to have an owner. Usually, it’s a dog that has never had an owner or lived with a human.

The best thing you can do for these animals is report them to special services that will take appropriate measures like vaccinating and sterilizing them. Unfortunately, feeding them is not a very good idea. Of course, you will help one unhappy dog, but globally, you won’t change the situation for the better.

However, stray dogs in cities cause a lot of trouble. They transmit different diseases (partially because they eat carrion), and some of them are so aggressive that they can attack people.

In favorable conditions, stray dogs reproduce very fast, and they eat all small animals like cats, squirrels, birds, and more. The saddest thing is that oftentimes, their victims are abandoned animals — house dogs that were thrown away by owners and that can’t survive the harsh conditions of the streets.

Have you ever seen a poodle or a dachshund among a pack of homeless dogs? We doubt that. Most stray dogs look the same. They usually have the following features:

  • Grey or red in color
  • Medium sized
  • Long faces
  • Standing ears

5. Being vegetarian not for your health but “for the planet”

The question of what to eat should be everyone’s personal choice. But people who give up eating meat because they think that it’s more eco-friendly should think twice.

Yes, the plants themselves don’t emit any CO2 but what does emit a lot of CO2 is the agricultural machinery and equipment in the greenhouses. Besides, all fruit and vegetables contain fewer calories than meat, so in order to feed everyone, a lot of land must be used for growing such foods. Additionally, a lot of trees need to be cut down and a lot of water and electricity need to be used.

The people who try to do a good thing for the planet by changing their diet should think not about what they eat but about how much food they buy. 1/3 of food produced is thrown away which does much more harm to the environment that eating meat does.

6. Buying a hybrid car

Hybrid cars really use gas more efficiently. However, in order to produce such a car, we need so many resources both financially and ecologically, it’s actually much better to buy a regular car.

Modern diesel engines are reliable and efficient, so no matter how strange it sounds, they do less harm than hybrid engines do.

7. Artificial Christmas trees instead of real ones

It’s one thing if we choose a plastic tree out of practical necessity (no needles, lower prices, no danger of catching fire, etc.). But the people who buy an artificial tree because it’s more “eco-friendly” should take the following into account:

  • The factories that produce plastic Christmas trees require a lot of electricity and water.
  • Many of the factories are not eco-friendly.
  • A lot of CO2 is emitted during the transportation of the trees to other countries.
  • The plastic used to produce plastic trees doesn’t decompose.

Obviously, all these things have a negative impact on the environment. According to some estimations, in order to make the harm of a plastic tree equal to the harm of a natural one, you’d need to use it for at least 10 years.

The stereotype that chopping down trees makes forests smaller is also not true. In most countries, the “holiday” trees are specially grown or cut down anyway when roads are built. By the way, you can give the tree you used to a zoo or a farm and they’ll use it for food.

8. Eating organic food

In organic agriculture, farmers don’t use pesticides or fertilizers. Of course, this is good for people but really bad for the harvest. So, in order to get the required amount of food, farmers have to plant it on bigger territories.

Of course, organic production should exist in the modern world, but it’s impossible to feed all of humanity with it. To do this, we would have to increase the size of the land by cutting down trees.

9. Eating locally grown food and vegetables

During the right season, this approach is reasonable, but if you buy fruit in winter, imported foods are the best choice.

The thing is, in order to grow berries and vegetables in a greenhouse, we need a lot of water and electricity.

10. Charity for those who actually torture animals

When we see kittens and puppies in the streets, sad horses waiting for tourists, or beggars that ask for money for their animals, it’s natural that we want to give them money to make their lives at least a little easier.

Don’t do this, it won’t help. This is a cruel business where a sad look and suffering can get a wallet full again. And all the collected money will be spent on anything but helping the homeless animals. Every cent you give to them will only make the business more profitable.

The best thing you can do is inform the police about the illegal activity you notice and comfort yourself with the thought that you are a really good person who loves nature and understands that not every seemingly good thing is actually good.


This famous picture went viral when the internet user posted it and said that dogs were not allowed to be on this beach. How about “No humans allowed?” Oftentimes, we make a worse mess than any animals can.

Do you live an eco-friendly lifestyle? What do you do to improve the condition of the environment or to harm it less? Tell us in the comment section below!

Preview photo credit @monde_biodi / twitter