October 4, 2011
MADISON - As leaves start to fall across Wisconsin, state environmental officials are reminding people that autumn is an excellent time to start composting or to improve a home compost pile. Composting can help residents save money on fertilizer, save municipalities money on yard waste collection and protect the state's air quality.
Composting is better for the environment than burning leaves, branches, weeds and other yard materials. "Burning yard waste can cause health problems for your family and neighbors, pollute soil and water, and start wildfires," says Brad Wolbert, Recycling and Solid Waste Section Chief for the Department of Natural Resources' Waste and Materials Management Program.
State air quality and fire rules regulate the burning of yard materials in Wisconsin, and a growing number of communities have local rules in place that restrict or completely prohibit burning yard materials.
Composting your leaves, grass clippings and branches doesn't mean they go to waste. Composting, says Wolbert, "not only helps keep our air clean and prevents wildfires, but the compost itself is a valuable product."
Composted yard materials keep soil healthy and provide nutrients for lawns and gardens, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides. State law bans yard materials from landfills, but there are a number of ways residents can manage leaves and other compostable materials in their back yard or garden. Urban residents who don't compost on their own property often have access to a community compost site.
Here are a few tips for composting or reusing yard materials:
More information on home composting and vermicomposting is available on the DNR website and the UW-Extension website [www4.uwm.edu] (exit DNR; search publications for "composting"). To learn more about yard waste recycling, see the Recycle More Wisconsin. The DNR also has a new poster titled Garbage to Gardens: Compost Grows (pdf). Copies are available from Elisabeth Olson at (608) 264-9258 or Elisabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Wolbert a6 608-264-6286 or Brad.Wolbert@wisconsin.gov