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Yard Waste

Yard Waste

Green Waste Is Waste Too

Yard waste is any organic waste left over from garden or yard maintenance. It is sometimes referred to as “green waste” because it is biodegradable. Yard waste can include small branches, grass clippings, and fallen leaves, among other debris. In most communities, yard waste must be separated from regular household waste for pickup.

 

Where the Waste Goes

Yard waste accounts for nearly 15 percent of all waste in the United States, but that percentage varies widely based on the season and region. (For example, when leaves fall in the autumn in some parts of the country, yard waste can account for over 50 percent of all waste.) Yard waste requires different equipment and methods for pickup and disposal than general waste. And although this waste is biodegradable, yard waste that is dumped in landfills can have a negative impact on the environment as it decomposes. In landfills, the decomposition of yard waste—as with all organic waste—generates methane. This potent greenhouse gas is a major contributor to climate change. Its impact is significant, given that landfills now account for the third largest source of methane emissions in the United States. Yard waste that is collected separately, however, is often incorporated into municipal composting programs, where it helps produce rich soil amendment for local farmers.

 

Landscape Naturally

In addition to designated yard waste collection, you can also recycle most yard waste right at home through composting. Fallen leaves and clippings collected in a pile to decompose will result in nutrient-rich humus, also known as black gold, that you can use as mulch. In addition to acting as a natural fertilizer, this mulch can protect garden beds from drying out, and it naturally deters weeds and pests, reducing the need for chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and commercial potting soil.

 

Designing a yard that fits your environment can help reduce yard waste and protect natural resources. This approach to landscaping is known as greenscaping and includes practices such as choosing plants that thrive in your local area, which can reduce yard maintenance and watering needs. Grasscycling, or leaving grass clippings on your lawn after mowing, will also reduce waste and can make lawns healthier.

 

Properly Disposing of Yard Waste

If you choose not to reuse yard waste because of limited time or space, check with your local waste management facilities about how best to dispose of yard waste. Some communities offer designated curbside pickup days; others require you to bring yard waste to a designated area. You may also be able to hire a private company to pick up your yard waste and dispose of it sustainably.

 

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