Nature is the supreme recycler. Let us see how it does it. A leaf takes minerals and water from the soil, and carbon dioxide from the air. Using energy from sunlight, it combines these raw materials into organic matter. In the fall, the leaf dies and falls to the ground. The recycling process gets under way. Insects chew it down, fungi and bacteria take over and continue breaking it down into simpler and simpler molecules. It may take months or years; the raw materials go back to their original state — minerals, water, and carbon dioxide to be used again. The process is a perfect circle.