Raking leaves isn’t much fun (unless, of course, you’re jumping in them). In a recent clip, Karishma (@_makeearthgreatagain) gave us even more reasons to not bother spending an entire Saturday raking up the backyard.
“People always ask me, ‘Karishma, what can I do to help the environment?’” she begins. “But a lot of the time, it’s about what you don’t do.”
And in this case — that’s raking leaves. She breaks down four ways leaving the leaves is a great help to the planet.
Some fall time spooky autumn eco tips for you! 🍁🎃🍂 my favourite sustainability tips are the ones where you don’t have to do anything 🥱 and this is one of them ✨ embrace your lazy side and DON’T rake your leaves. 🍁 Fallen leaves are SO IMPORTANT! From adding carbon back to the soil, to providing a home for little insects and critters, just leave the leaves where they’re meant to be. 🧡 happy spooky season!♬ Halloween ・ cute horror song – PeriTune
First, leaves don’t break down in landfills. Today, most landfills are lined with high-density plastic to prevent the leakage of toxic waste into groundwater. When organic matter like leaves break down in the presence of nonorganic materials (like all the waste in landfills), they produce methane. Every year, that’s 8 million tons of leaves breaking down and releasing methane, a known greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.
Second, leaves are home to little creatures. The nooks and crannies left by fallen leaves make excellent homes for a variety of insects and small mammals through the fall and even into the winter. This leaf layer is essential to many species — from thousands of insect species to chipmunks, squirrels, turtles, lizards, toads, mice, and more. In fact, 94% of moth species rely on the coverage of leaf layers to complete their life cycle.
Third, leaves store carbon. When those leaves break down in grass and soil, unlike in landfills, that carbon goes back into the soil. And as Karishma points out, “carbon-rich soil is great for gardening.” They’re also full of other great nutrients for the soil, like nitrogen and phosphorus.
Finally, leaving the leaves not only gets you out of raking — it gets you out of mulching, too. Since you’re not raking this year, don’t worry about running over the leaves with the lawnmower. Breaking up the leaves creates a natural mulch, which protects the root systems of the grass and trees in your yard and preserves soil moisture. It’s a win-win.
So take Karishma’s advice this fall and winter, “just leave the leaves.”