You know the old phrase “Out of sight, out of mind?” It truly applies to our garbage output. Many people stuff refuse into their garbage cans, put the receptacle out on pick-up day, and never think twice about it. Yet, all of that garbage has to go somewhere, and that “somewhere” is the landfill. Experts say that 20-30% of what we throw away — ending up in landfills — is yard waste and food scraps. These materials build up, take up space in the landfill, and release a powerful greenhouse gas called methane — not a good situation. Enter organic gardening practices (cue the angel chorus here)! Organic gardeners somewhat naturally employ practices that help to reduce all of that landfill waste, so if you are new to organic gardening, here are 4 ways that your gardening helps to reduce landfill waste.
1. Composting. Everything from kitchen scraps to yard and garden waste is fodder for the compost pile. Use both brown and green material, keep the pile moist, wait for the magic to happen and use it in next year’s garden.
2. Bagging leaves. When it’s time to rake leaves in the fall, go ahead and bag them, but don’t drag them out to the curb for pickup. Instead, use the leaves in next year’s garden as a soil cover, or add some into the compost pile as a perfect “brown material.”
3. Recycling. Got leftover plastic nursery pots? Don’t throw them out. Recycle them using your city’s recycling program, or keep some on hand for oddball garden chores (seed starting, plant swaps, etc.). Several of our local independent garden centers gladly accept plastic nursery pots to grow more of their own plants. Score for everybody!
4. Letting grass clippings fall. When you mow the lawn, forego the bag attachment and let the grass clippings fall. This practice returns valuable nutrients to the soil, encouraging deeper grass roots which, in turn, produces healthier and more drought-tolerant grass. You can also add some clippings to the compost pile — just don’t haul bags out to the curb!