(CBS DETROIT) – Raking up fallen leaves can be a fun fall activity or a challenging chore. While most homeowners rake leaves for curbside disposal, many are turning to composting, a simple and effective way to deal with organic waste.

Credit: DNR

“Composting is nature’s way of turning your leaves and grass into a valuable soil conditioner,” said Aaron Hiday, Compost Program coordinator at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Compost has several benefits. It:

  • Saves money by reducing the need for expensive bags and commercial soil additives.
  • Helps gardens and lawns by improving the fertility and health of the soil.
  • Saves water by helping the soil hold moisture and reducing water runoff.
  • Improves the environment by recycling valuable organic resources and extending the lives of landfills.

Getting started is easy. All you need is a pitchfork, rake and shovel, a compost bin and some soil. Compost bins can be purchased at a hardware store or made of inexpensive blocks, wire, wood or snow fencing.

There are a few do’s and don’ts for proper composting.

  • Do compost grass clippings, leaves, weeds, garden debris, small brush, twigs, clean wood ash, sawdust, wood chips, eggshells, coffee grounds and food waste.
  • Don’t compost whole branches or logs, pet or human waste, charcoal briquette ash, sawdust from treated wood, meat or dairy food items.

EGLE’s handy Home Composting: Reap a Heap of Benefits info sheet provides more valuable tips, as does this short video.

If composting at home is not an option, check with your local municipality or recycler for yard waste drop-off locations. The Michigan Recycling Directory website also lists locations that take food scraps. (Select the “Organics” tab and then click on “Food Scraps.” Be sure to verify with the location that it accepts food scraps before taking them to the location.)

Composting is an easy way to dispose of organic waste with a ton of benefits. Get started today!

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