Yard Waste: More of an Impact than You Think

 In Florida, Green, Landscaping, Nature, Plants, Sarasota, SWFL, Uncategorized

Does yard waste harm the environment?

Can you do anything about it?

The answer may surprise you.

 

Recycling is not new.  Originally, it was a way to reuse source materials that were sparse.  In the 1960’s and 1970’s, however, a new reason made recycling very popular.  We were running out of space in the landfills.  From aluminum cans to plastic bottles, we became accustomed to seeking out a recycling bin instead of a trashcan.  Did you know that organic materials like food scraps and yard waste are also recyclable?  Did you know they have a negative impact on the environment when they are left in landfills?

WHAT IS YARD WASTE?

Yard waste includes leaves, twigs, dirt, sod, and other organic material.  On a small scale, yard waste is produced from landscape maintenance, gardening, and even heavy storms.  Yard waste is also produced from land clearing, construction projects, and natural disasters such as hurricanes.  In Florida, yard waste is especially heavy during the growing seasons. However, it produced all throughout the year because of our mild seasons.  So, if you live in Florida, it’s a good idea to make sure your yard waste is getting recycled.

yard waste line after irma, trucks of yard waste, yard debris line

Trucks line up to unload yard waste after Hurricane Irma.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF YARD WASTE IN LANDFILLS?

Our landfills are running out of space.

Yard Waste is compostable and reusable.  When you send it to a landfill, it takes up valuable space and is buried along with other trash.  This increases the production of harmful chemicals and slows the natural decomposition process.  These released chemicals negatively impact the environment.  Here’s why.

Harmful Emissions in Landfills

The breakdown of yard debris in landfill conditions creates methane emissions and leachate. Simply put, methane gas is one of the most potent greenhouse gasses.  It is a strong greenhouse gas that is flammable, explosive, and nearly undetectable.  Both nature and human activity create methane, but its “high global warming potential” is 21 times higher than carbon dioxide.  This gives experts enough cause for concern.

Leachate occurs when water flows through harmful substances and becomes contaminated.  As it spreads, leachate quickly increases ground and water pollution.  As a result, the “footprint” of the landfill increases to epic proportions.  Modern landfills are designed to combat leachate, but some pollution is unavoidable. 

There is a better solution.

landfill image, no yard waste

The purpose of a landfill is to isolate trash NOT decompose it.

yard waste truck, drop off road, yard debris in truck, customers of 1 stop

Local landscape companies drop yard waste off to be recycled.

RECYCLING VS. THE LANDFILL

You are probably wondering how a large-scale composting facility differs from a landfill.  Well, the difference lies in both purpose and how waste is handled.  The purpose of a landfill is to store waste.  Yard debris and food scraps are typically buried along with other trash where they are deprived of the natural elements needed for decomposition.  In a recycling facility, however, the goal is to turn organic waste into sustainable solutions.  As such, the waste is placed into compost rows or ground into other products such as recycled mulch. 

A compost row is a much larger version of  a compost pile.  Unlike trash piles in landfills, compost rows are carefully monitored and turned throughout their life-cycle.  This process significantly reduces harmful emissions and significantly increases the rate of decomposition.  The end result is compost, which is used in many different ways.

USES OF RECYCLED YARD WASTE

Recycled Hardwood Mulch

Recycled mulch is a sustainable alternative to mulch that is unsustainably farmed.  Most types are available without dyes, which prevents the introduction of foreign chemicals into your landscape.  Some recycled mulch is available in a partially composted form.  This kind of mulch is dark in color, which gives it the aesthetic quality of chocolate mulch without dyes.

Compost

Many professionals use locally-made compost to combat disease and enrich soil without the use of harmful chemicals.  Adding compost to soil has a multitude of benefits that range from enrichment to water retention.  Top soil or potting soil made from local compost reduces the likelihood of weed seeds and helps fortify plants against disease and pests.

yard waste products, yard debris as mulch, recycled yard waste compost

Recycled yard waste has the potential to be so much more than trash.

A SOLUTION FOR DEPLETED SOIL

We do not have an infinite source of soil.  Population growth, pollution, and human development deplete our soil or make it less viable.  Furthermore, the overuse of land, deforestation, desertification, and water runoff continue to threaten our food sources.  This problem is not entirely man-made, but our practices speed up the process.

Prevent erosion and increase soil’s viability by adding compost.  Compost reduces erosion because it builds up the structure of soil and allows plants to take root more easily.  The introduction of compost also supports biodiversity, which leads to healthier soil.  Healthy soil leads to healthy plants, and healthy plants are better able to ward of disease and pests.

If not for yard waste recycling, this resource would end up in the landfill.

BE THE SOLUTION

You can keep organic waste out of landfills.  How?  Well, there are several ways.  Here are a few:

  1. Compost your own food scraps, grass clippings, etc.
  2. If you have a landscaping crew, send them our way. 1 Stop Landscape Supply is a great resource for landscapers!
  3. If you do your own landscaping, you can also bring yard debris to our facility.  Be sure to keep the yard waste separate from other waste because it cannot be recycled if it is contaminated.

Another way to be part of the solution is to use recycled materials in your landscape.  Using recycled materials such as compost and recycled hardwood mulch help remove yard waste from landfills and reduces the “footprint” of your own landscape. 

At 1 Stop Landscape Supply, our recycled products include:

  • Top Soil
  • Potting Soil
  • Compost
  • Recycled Mulch
  • Mineral Mulch

It seems like a small effort, but it has a tremendous impact.  Call us and become part of the solution today!

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