When most people think of recycling, we think of typical items like plastics, glass, and paper. Did you know that yard waste (also called green waste) can be recycled too? This waste is produced by land clearing, landscape maintenance, and gardening. It is also created by natural disasters such as hurricanes. In areas like Florida, a lot of waste is produced during the summer and other periods of heavy growth.
Just like regular trash, accumulating yard waste can have a negative impact on the environment.
Types of yard waste
Yard waste comes in many shapes and sizes. Almost all of it is beneficial. In most cases, if it is contaminant free (not mixed in with other garbage), it can be recycled. According to the United States EPA, common types of yard waste include: dry leaves, small branches, twigs, straw, used potting soil, fresh grass clippings, green leaves, and soft garden prunings. Even entire trees can be broken down and recycled.
Almost all yard waste has the potential to become something greater.
What is the impact of not recycling yard waste?
Yard waste is highly compostable and reusable. When added to a landfill, it takes up valuable space that could be used for non-recyclable items. By reducing unnecessary waste in landfills, recycling lawn clippings, branches, and other compostable waste can prevent waste management tactics (burning or burying, for example) that have a negative impact on the environment.
While the goal should be to eventually recycle as much waste as possible, yard waste is a great (and easy) place to start.
Saving space is beneficial, but the problem goes even further. When yard waste breaks down, it creates methane emissions and acidity. Methane is a very strong greenhouse gas. Methane is also flammable, explosive, and nearly undetectable. When left untreated, yard waste can create large amounts of methane that seeps into the ground and nearby buildings.
When acidity is introduced into the landfill environment, it can cause other chemicals to spread more quickly. This leachate can quickly increase ground and water pollution. It can increase the “footprint” of a landfill to epic proportions. While a significant degree of this will occur anyway, the introduction of yard waste decay can make it even greater.
When combined with garbage, yard waste can potentially have a devastating effect on our environment.
We are running out of soil
Many people don’t realize that we are depleting our viable soil. Because of population growth, pollution, and other aspects of development, our soil is disappearing or becoming unsuitable for use. Soil erosion is also a real problem. In fact, our food sources are being threatened by factors including: the overuse of land, deforestation, desertification, and water runoff. While we may not be able to entirely stop this loss of soil, we can slow it by using yard waste to create more of this very important resource.
When you look around, you may not automatically think about how almost everything around you eventually breaks down into dirt. Dirt, however, is not the same thing as soil. Natural sources, like the waste generated from our yard maintenance, can easily be turned into a source of precious and viable soil. When properly treated, yard waste can be recycled into healthy soil for use in farming, landscaping, and gardening.
Soil made from recycled yard waste can be used without depleting what is fast-becoming an endangered resource.
Recycling yard waste
Yard waste can be recycled and turned into mulch, soil, and more. Some examples include:
• Top Soil
• Potting Soil
• Recycled Mulch
When manufactured properly, these products can have a very positive effect on plants and landscapes. Many professionals use locally made compost to help combat disease and enrich the soil without chemicals. Recycled mulch is also a fantastic way to control weeds without pesticides. Using a top soil or potting soil made from a local compost will reduce weed seeds and help to lessen the need for pesticides as well.
Products created by the waste that comes from your yard can actually reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These products have very little to no negative impact on the environment.
Knowing about the problem isn’t enough. You have to do something about it. If you have a landscaping crew, ask them about how they dispose of the yard waste. If you garden or do lawn maintenance on your own, keep the waste is produces separate from other trash. If you don’t plan to compost it on your own, bring it to a facility to do it for you.
If you don’t do anything about yard waste, you are part of the problem. What can you do?
Recycle. Recycle. Recycle.
It’s a small effort, but it can have a tremendous impact. Call us to learn more about how to be the solution.