Sticks And Branches – Recycle Or Trash?

I know the title of this post seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve run into a dilemma recently that I wanted to share:

When we first purchased our house there was a lot of yard waste between normal lawn mowing and yard renovation. I hated the idea of bagging it all and sending it off to the landfill, but that’s what we did for a short time. Then I found out we’re lucky enough to have a garbage company that will provide yard waste bins for an extra cost if you’d rather recycle your sticks, grass clippings, etc May-Nov. In past years I’ve used this service extensively; I felt green about recycling and I like that I could pay less to recycle yard waste than I would to send extra bags to the dump (I frequently would fill an extra dumpster a week with various green matter).

However this year I started composting and have noticed I’m not using our yard waste bin nearly as much. They only things it’s being filled with are large sticks and small branches from our trees that seem too large to compost AND it’s frequently not being filled.

Additionally, we’ve worked hard in past years to make sure we recycle as much plastic, glass, metal, cardboard etc as possible and we’re throwing lots of kitchen scraps into the compost instead of the trash. So our trash dumpster isn’t being used fully either. So I started debating… do we get rid of the yard waste recycle bin or down size our dumpster or…?

composting branches

I always feel good about being the only house on the street with a yard waste bin and hate seeing bags of leaves stacked on the street and dumpsters overflowing with branches. I didn’t like the idea of sending yard waste to the landfill; it takes up space and I loved the idea that it could be turned into someone else’s mulch or compost once shredded (for more info on shredding see Do I need a backyard shredder?). But the longer I thought about it the more I concluded: “I really don’t need that bin anymore.”

Here’s the thought process I went through as I debated my options- I’m still doing my part to recycle our yard waste more than ever before with our compost bin. The cost we’d save from down sizing our trash bin is less than if we canceled our yard waste bin and both trucks would still have to stop at our house.

Between creating our own compost (rather than trucking it in) and not having the extra truck pick up yard waste, we’re cutting down on vehicle emissions and lessening our carbon footprint.

After having a reader ask about the ratio of green to brown matter needed in a compost bin (Reader questions-Brown materials…) I realized maybe it’s a good thing to send what few things I can’t compost to the landfill… after all, what else will help all that other garbage decompose? AND I can always have the bin brought back should we find we have more waste than we can deal with between the compost bin and the spare space in our trash dumpster.

So yesterday I called our trash company and asked them to pick up the bin. I’m looking forward to feeling good about sending my yard waste to the dump again!

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