environment sustainability

Are leaf eating machines eating more than leaves?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article for my local paper’s “Going Green” page. It’s a special edition page, once a month, that features stories about eco-friendly things folks and businesses are doing (or attempting to do) that will help sustain our environment. That’s the premise anyway.

But Something Happened on the Way to Heaven.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “whitewashing,” it’s used as a metaphor to indicate a cover up or glossing over of some particular wrong doing, scandal, or unethical practice. In some popularized cases you’ll hear of large corporations or companies whitewashing unethical policy, producing biased results from research and whatnot. But there’s another type of glossing over going on in the green industy – greenwashing,  and I think I’m guilty of it.

The article I wrote for the Going Green page is about a community’s leaf collection program that is provided for them free of charge. Neighboring communities are charged a fee for yard waste collection, it’s included in their bill from the company that collects their regular household waste. The folks living in the community with free yard waste and leaf removal  also get free composted leaf mulch to use in their gardens and landscapes. But is it really “free.” You’ve heard it said that if somethings sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Well folks, the old adage still applies: the cost of fuel and manpower for the community’s free leaf and yard waste removal most likely far outweighs any green benefit that might be had.

What is the fuel cost for such a behemoth as this?