Goshen News, Goshen, IN

September 29, 2012

As leaves begin to fall, don't burn them


We hate to bring this up before September is over, but the leaves are beginning to fall and we think we should remind property owners that the city of Goshen has a leaf burning ban in place. We would also like to remind county residents that there are several options to polluting the air by burning leaves.

The leaf burning ban adopted by the City Council several years ago was one of the most significant actions ever taken by the council to improve the quality of life in the city. Now, on crisp October days Goshen residents can see the wonderfully blue sky and inhale the cool, refreshing air without gasping for breath. Before the ban, Goshen was often obscured in a thick, throat-swelling fog of acrid smoke.

This awful pollution continues to occur outside of the city each fall, especially in the many rural subdivisions that have cropped up over the past few decades. Subdivision lots often have a lot of trees and we expect homeowners feel overwhelmed by the vast piles of leaves they rake up. Burning the leaves may seem to be the best option. But there are others.

Using a lawnmower to mulch up the leaves and turn them into lawn fertilizer is a good technique. But that may mean property owners have to mow often to stay ahead of the falling leaves.

Another good option is to create a composting area, where the leaves can be collected and allowed to decay. Perhaps several property owners can pool their resources and create one central composting area in a subdivision.

We just want to remind property owners that if they choose to burn their leaves, they are causing harm to someone else downwind. There are many people with asthma in Elkhart County who each fall struggle to breathe because of people burning leaves. And, health officials tell us that breathing in the smoke from leaves is harmful even to a healthy person.

So, as the leaves begin to fall, before grabbing some matches, think of others and how the convenience of burning a pile of leaves may harm them.