The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

November 24, 2007

What’s wrong with this picture?

Out for a nice stroll, buying nothing yesterday, Michael and I were dismayed to see Telegraph Avenue lined with plastic bags full of brown leaves. What’s wrong with that? Everything!

Our city councilwoman, Jane Brunner, has been working on getting more trees planted along our streets. Do more trees mean more garbage for the landfill? This beautiful compostable material gets sealed up in a plastic bag to mummify with the rest of the garbage instead of being returned to the soil to nourish new trees? If that’s the case, someone’s not using their noggin.

I’m going to call the city on Monday and get to the bottom of this. Oakland ought to be handing out compostable leaf bags and hauling them to our commercial composter. Well, I rescued one bagful for my personal compost. Any other Oaklanders could do the same. Even if you don’t have your own composter, you could free the leaves from the plastic and empty them into your green bin.

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16 years ago

I live on the Peninsular, not far from Oakland. Every household has a large yard trimming bin. The waste management that covers our area picks up yard trimming (including leaves) every other week and compost it. Residents can go the site to get the ready-made compost for their gardens and yard for free. I love fall leaves, the color, the smell, the crunchy sound they make when I walk on them. Why people see them as nuisance is beyond me.

Green Bean
16 years ago

Ohhh, I hate this! I just finished doing some lasagna gardening (the sheet mulching technique used in permaculture) and was driving around looking for leaves. These are brown gold people! Don’t throw them out. Anyway, I liberated several plastic bags full of leaves that I found out on trash day. Free the leaves!

Radical Garbage Man
16 years ago

The City of Madison, WI composts the leaves that it picks up at the curb. In fact in Wisconsin it’s illegal to put yard waste in landfills. The rule here is that any plastic bags used must be left open at the top so that the leaf crews can dump them out.

Come to think of it, landfilling of yard waste is illegal in California, too. Are those clear bags ones that you usually use for refuse? I don’t get why you would need extra leaf collection if you already have the compostable bin, but it seems like tying up the bags of extra leaves is a bad idea.

Greg Peterson
16 years ago

Oh my gosh…one of my pet peeves which has NEVER made sense to me. I think that the basis for the problem is twofold – people not understanding because we have never been taught the value of the leaves and in many cities like mine we are required to bag our grass clippings and leaves – the city tells us we have to so we must. I think that we need to stop the bagging process before it ever gets to that point and educate people on just what they can do with these great compostables.

I am a practitioner of permaculture ( In permaculture this is one of the issues we address with a process called sheet mulching. Here is a short explanation about permaculture and a description of sheet mulching

Beth, Thanks for doing what you are doing. This is how change is created in the world.