Grassroots Environmental Education

52 Main Street

Port Washington, NY 11050

Tel: 516-883-0887

Email: HGIMT@grassrootsinfo.org

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon

How Green Is My Town is a Project of

Grassroots Environmental Education

Leaves & Garden Waste

​Nothing indicates a lack of understanding about solid waste management more than the sight of large black plastic bags filled with leaves sitting at the curb ready to be picked up and taken to the landfill. Leaves are a valuable resource − a part of nature's own recycling plan. Plastic bags can take hundreds of years to break down in the environment, and leaves can't decay without access to oxygen and microbes.

Thousands of towns are now recycling leaves for compost, or at least requiring their collection in paper or biodegradable plastic bags. Many are also providing residents with information about backyard composting, further reducing program costs. If your town is still permitting the disposal of leaves in plastic bags, today would be a good day to change the policy.

Irvington, NY has an innovative program called "Your Leaves: Love 'Em & Leave 'Em" which encourages residents and landscapers to join with the town in conducting on-site leaf mulching. Mulching lawns, beds and other vegetation with shredded leaves is highly beneficial to soil health, improves drainage and reduces stormwater runoff.

References

[1] Schnitzler, J., et al. (2014). Seasonal Pattern of Isoprene Synthase Activity inQuercus roburLeaves and its Significance for Modeling Isoprene Emission Rates. Botanica Acta, 110(3), 240-243. 

[2] Cao, L., et al. (2015). Magnetic Response to air pollution recorded by soil and dust-loaded leaves in a changing industrial environment. Atmospheric Environment, 119, 304-313.

[3] O’Brine, T., & Thompson, R. C. (2010). Degradation of plastic carrier bags in the marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 60(12), 2279-2283.

[4] Webster, J. R., et al. (2009). Nutrient Uptake and Mineralization during Leaf Decay in Streams - a Model Simulation. International Review of Hydrobiology, 94(4), 372-390.

[5] Fitzstevens, M. G., et al. (2017) Biogeochemial characterization of municipal compost to support urban agriculture and limit childhood lead exposure from resuspended urban soils. Elm Sci Anth, 5(0), 51.