Fallen Leaves Should Be Composted, Not Trashed

It’s leaf time again in Northwest Philadelphia, and I’m wishing to not again suffer the heartache of seeing multiple bags of leaves on the curb bound for landfills. That’s where most of our leaves go, whether in brown paper bags or plastic. Yes, leaves in brown paper bags go into the regular trash truck, and the landfill, throughout most of the year, except for one designated day.

The City of Philadelphia has a very limited program of picking up leaves to be composted — merely one day per year! The past two years, trucks failed to come by for pickup as scheduled on my 7400 block of Boyer Street. I bet other blocks experienced the same. Can we as neighbors create a local and low-cost solution? 

For years I’ve kept and composted all my yard leaves. I’ve even picked up neighbors’ leaf bags to add to my treasure. Yes, fallen leaves are a treasure that, when composted, have enriched my soil and reduced my yard-care costs. 

However, now with so many new trees on my property, I’m overwhelmed with the volume, so I’m seeking a place nearby to take leaves for composting. 

I believe those places are just waiting to be found. Potential benefits to site-owners include enrichment of their soil and, potentially, financial enrichment. 

What’s needed are properties — whether home or business or institutional — where’s there’s a little free space. It could be a back or side yard. The resultant compost could be available for that property’s use or sale, or free to neighbors. A modest compensation via individual donations or a grant to the site owner could provide incentive. I’m prepared to start a fund for 7400-7500 Boyer neighbors! 

Would you work with me on this? I welcome a conversation.

Another option for composting is to “just let leaves stay where they fall” (blog.nwf.org/2014/11/what-to-do-with-fallen-leaves).

Bagging leaves for landfill is not a good option. Why? The methane produced, the transport costs, the taxpayer burden, the depletion of our soils.

We love our trees. Wouldn’t we love their fallen leaves more if we could dispose of them easily, responsibly and to our soil’s enrichment?

Lynn Mather (LynnMather@gmail.com)