Step 8: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce municipal sources of solid waste by treating organic materials in the landscape as valuable resources instead of as waste for disposal.
Why It’s Important
The amount of solid waste generated in New Jersey continues to increase. Source reduction is the most important strategy for managing solid waste. Reducing at the source means less waste that would otherwise have to be recycled or disposed of in a landfill or incinerator.
In the landscape, an important way of reducing at the source is to treat organic materials, such as grass clippings and leaves, as valuable resources instead of as waste for disposal. Your municipality can use organic materials to improve soil health, provide nutrients needed by plants, and create habitat for wildlife.
8A: Implement landscaping practices that treat organic materials as resources on municipal properties.
Landscaping practices to implement include the following:
Grass – Cut It and Leave It
Use mulching mowers to chop grass clippings into fine pieces that drop down to the soil. Grass clippings left on the turf provide a natural source of nutrients for a growing lawn, shade grass roots, block the growth of weeds, and build healthy soil structure.
Leave the Leaves
Similar to grass clippings, leaves act as a weed-blocking natural mulch, soil conditioner, and organic fertilizer. Leaves also provide vital habitat for wildlife, providing food, shelter, and nesting materials for many animals from beneficial insects to toads to birds. Wherever possible, “leave the leaves” to break down naturally. Low to moderate quantities of leaves on turf can be chopped into smaller pieces with a mulching mower and left in place. Larger quantities of leaves that need to be collected from turf can be re-used as mulch in garden beds, or composted.
Turn organic materials collected from municipal landscapes into “black gold” by composting them. Compost is a mixture of decayed and decaying organic matter that not only provides a steady, balanced source of nutrients to plants but also builds soil structure. When added to porous sandy soil, compost acts like a sponge, holding moisture during dry weather. In wet clay soils, compost improves drainage and aerates the soil, helping to reduce compaction. If your municipality has successfully completed the Sustainable Jersey Action, Recycled Materials and Composting, you can use that to meet the requirements of Standard 8A.
What to submit for Action 8A: Summary of your municipality’s practices for using organic materials in the landscape and how those practices reduce municipal waste, OR if your municipality completed the Sustainable Jersey Action, Recycled Materials and Composting, submit verification that the SJ action was successfully completed.
- Jersey-Friendly Yards: Step 8
- Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management – Composting Resources
- New Jersey’s Manual on Composting Leaves and Management of Other Yard Trimmings
- NJDEP Grass – Cut It and Leave It
- NJDEP Source Reduction
- Rutgers NJAES Minimizing Waste Disposal: Grass Clippings (fact sheet FS389)
- Rutgers NJAES Composting Fact Sheets
Ready to Submit Step 8?
Upload the Required Documentation to Your Custom Link.
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