It's impossible to resist the drumbeat to naturalize your child as soon as possible. That pinnacle of bourgey nurseryschooling, the Montessori method, would have the kids outside all the time if possible, and if not, they should be touching only "natural" materials in their classrooms. Feh, plastic! (See my short rant on this topic below.) Pretty much anyone in the blogging world who emphasizes ecological responsibility -- and definitely anyone who emphasizes health -- focuses heavily on the sustaining qualities of connecting with Nature. Nature good, goes this popular line of argument, culture bad. Natural objects good, mass-produced objects bad.
So I fulfill my parental responsibility to regularly expose the young tot to the elements here -- walks to all of the public places, bird sanctuaries, little parks, etc. -- and despite the wealth of sticks and pinecones and rocks, he never fails to make straight for the cigarette butts, the bits of plastic wrap, and the old Skoal containers. The natural and the cultured bits are all the same to him. Cultured bits probably better, even, because they're likely to have letters on them, making them extra fascinating (and likely to bring on a fit of "S! S!!...K!K!KKKK!" and such. Our baby, and his crazy love of letters!)
Of course, nature becomes especially interesting once it's where you wish it wasn't. He's super interested in the ants which have just invaded our living room, for example. Score one for the nature-lovers there, I guess.