Haven’t Raked? No Worries!

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 9.31.43 PMHere’s some good news for those of you that haven’t gotten around to that chore of raking leaves: don’t bother. That’s right – leave the leaves! It turns out that it’s better for the lawn and the environment to allow the leaves to decompose naturally. Fallen leaves provide a habitat for all kinds of wildlife, most importantly a variety of insects – the food source (along with leaf litter) for chipmunks, shrews, box turtles, toads and birds.

If a leaf-strewn yard isn’t your desired aesthetic, a mulching mower will make them less noticeable. A mulching mower is “bag-less”, chopping the grass & leaves into a fine shred, and depositing it back into the turf.

To avoid the carbon required carting them or having your municipality cart them, you might also just rake them into your flowerbeds and landscaping, which will add protective mulch for the winter. (Mulch refers to any organic material you put on top of the soil to prevent weeds and retain moisture). Or simply add them to your compost or collect them in a pile to the side and they will compost on their own – to be dug into your beds in the spring. Leaf compost and leaf mold actually help soil structure and water retention.

The whole idea is to NOT send them to a landfill – especially in a thick plastic bag. Once those leaves are deprived of oxygen in a landfill, they rot rather than biodegrade, adding to planet warming greenhouse gas. Any rotting organic matter produces methane – a potent, heat producing greenhouse gas. According to the EPA, leaves and yard debris account for more than 13% of the nation’s solid waste. That’s 33 million tons a year!

If you must collect them, try a paper leaf/yard debris bag which is compostable or recyclable. You can even reuse them if you are just moving the leaves from here to there.

So you’re off the hook. Mulch, re-distribute or gather in your own compost pile for future use. But please don’t collect in large, plastic bags and ship off to the dump!


About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Please contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have. Also visit the Green Design Goods store for my favorite environmentally sustainable products.

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