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Biology 111-D - "Lawn Debris: Where does it go?"

Student Authors:

Ron Troast, Kristin Paxton, Jennifer Riemersma, John DeYoung, Jason Van Ryn, and Maggie McCoy



  • "Landscape refuse…accounts for up to 20% of the wastes being placed in landfills"
  • While composting is an attractive alternative, many still neglect doing so, which contributes to the landfill problem.

Benefits of Suggestion:

  • Used as fertilizer
  • Controls soil erosion
  • Enhances plant growth
  • Used as a mulch
  • Economical and environmentally sound way to dispose of yard waste
  • Minimize amount of landscape refuse in landfills
  • Bans on burning and laws limiting dumping into landfills



In General:

  • Backyard composting
  • Cities/towns provide composting areas

At Calvin:

  • Current Processes
    • 1500 hours per season spent on landscaping/mowing/cleanup
    • 400 hours spent on leaf cleanup
    • Current method: dumping leaves in field by East Paris.
    • Current costs:
      • Cost of labor to remove
      • Cost of maintenance and fuel for removal equipment
  • Low Tech, High Return:
    • Organized piles with correct mixture of grass clippings, wood chips, and ground brush (30%)
    • Add finished compost material (10%) to introduce microorganisms and speed up decomposition process.
    • Usable product after 90 days, turning once a week
    • Purchase composting Bins
    • Continue dumping into piles

Other Local Colleges:

  • Hope College: "Dump in a box and haul to landfill"
  • Grand Valley State University: Use land waste to create a hill at the end of a parking lot
  • Aquinas College: "Let it go back to nature"

Assessment and Suggestions:

  • Everything in place to introduce Low Tech, High Return composting system:
    • Land space
    • Appropriate kinds, amounts, and combinations of waste
    • Machinery and labor
    • Low, if any, additional cost
    • Incorporate food waste as well