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Collecting Leaves for Yard Waste Pickup Helps Protect Waterways and Makes Rich Compost

yard waste bin
As we approach the winter, the Department of Public Works (DPW) asks residents and businesses to help us collect leaves from sidewalks, streets and storm drains. Collecting leaves from the street helps our local and global environment by protecting our local ecosystem and fighting climate change.

When leaves are washed away into storm drains they release nitrogen and phosphorus, which act like pollutants, contributing to harmful algal blooms, dead zones in waterways, and fish kills. Rain percolates through fallen leaves like tea bags in water, flushing nutrients down storm drains where it pollutes the Charles River and Alewife Brook. Furthermore, if leaves aren’t collected, it can result in local flooding. Therefore, it is very important that residents do their part by collecting leaves in their yard, along their sidewalk, and in the curb in front of their home or business. You can gather leaves with shovels, rakes, or brooms. Do not sweep leaves into the street or gutter.

You can help reduce our impact on climate change by placing the leaves out for yard waste collection where they’ll be composted to make rich soil. After yard waste is collected at the curb, it’s composted in Brockton, MA and used on local fields, gardens, and more. The City hosts two giveaways per year of the finished compost from Cambridge’s yard waste; DPW gave out 45 tons of finished compost in 2022. Annually, the City collects 2,000 tons of leaves, twigs and other yard waste. Check out these simple tips to keep leaves off the street and out of storm drains! If leaves are collected by street cleaning program, they are landfilled and will emit greenhouse gases as they decay.

To learn more about yard waste collection or to request yard waste stickers for the collection program, visit here.

If residents can contain leaves on their property, consider letting leaves sit on your lawn to help fertilize the lawn or garden bed. Read more about this option here.

Contact DPW at recycle@cambridgema.gov with any questions.
Page was posted on 11/2/2022 10:37 AM
Page was last modified on 11/2/2022 3:22 PM
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