Organic Gardening

Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.

New York Says No to Burning Leaves

10/20/2009 2:03:28 PM

Tags:

LeavesNoBurnBP

 

 

Like most gardeners, this time of year I drive slow when passing certain houses, which are known sources of clean bagged leaves. I can’t get enough leaves for composting and mulching, so why would anyone want to burn them? I know the answer – some folks just plain like to do it – but that doesn’t justify the air pollution load leaf burning releases into the atmosphere. The state of New York agrees! This month, New York joined a growing list of states where burning leaves is a crime. Communities like Muskegon County, MI, banned leaf burning back in 1973. Delaware and several other states followed suit in the mid-1990’s.

Fewer leaves being burned should play out as more being composted, but where will they rot? Recession-related budget cuts have reduced or eliminated leaf composting programs from Portland, OR to Brunswick, OH. Cities like Roanoke, VA will pick up only bagged leaves this year, with biodegradable paper leaf bags preferred. In Woodbridge, NJ, you can get paper leaf bags for free.

In some areas, the cost of collecting leaves with a vacuum truck runs as high as $100 per household, which makes me think I may be in the wrong business. Then again, in a society where money seems to talk loudest, maybe a big price tag on leaf collection is what it will take to get more people composting. When the city of Niagara Falls, ON weighed the financial costs vs. environmental benefits of composting yard waste, they came up with a negative $13.53 per ton. If everyone composted their leaves, those benefits would run even higher.

But back to burn bans, which are making the air easier to breathe in Moline, IL and thousands of other towns this fall. Leaf burning is a local issue that impacts people on a neighborhood level. I’m all for a no-leaf-burn nation, but then I’m a collector with my own interests at stake. Where do you stand?

Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant is coauthor of The Complete Compost Gardening Guide, which recently won a Silver Award of Achievement in writing from the Garden Writers Association.

 



Related Content

3 Ways to Compost

Three easy ways to compost in small spaces and with little effort.

Building Better Soil Receives Exclusive U.S. Distribution Rights

Soil Life is an all-natural, organic blend of microbes designed to enhance the nutritive value of so...

Burning Man: Growing a Conscious Community

Natural Home editor-in-chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence details her experience at Burning Man, a weeklong...

Got Leaves? Put 'Em to Work

Use autumn's bounty of fallen leaves to expand your garden, protect your plants and improve your soi...

Content Tools
RSS




Post a comment below.

 

Ironhead
11/10/2013 5:34:27 PM
I compost nearly all yard waste except for limbs and they go in the patio burner on chilly evenings. On the other hand, government getting in people's business is never a good thing. Before getting all wound up and crying about the smoke and all, remember, that is the same government that calls compost / mulch a trash pile and stacked firewood a brush pile. Been there! The smart solution would be to talk to neighbors that burn and have them rake the leaves into a heap for you and your fellow composters to collect. Screw big brother!







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.