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Why Burning Leaves Is A Bad Idea


The most common method used to dispose of an unruly pile of leaves is by firing them up. Before a gentle breeze takes your hard work down the drain, it is often better to set ablaze to the bundle and treat the problem from its root. But the sad reality is that this is not the best idea, neither for your environment nor for you!

Why Is It Bad For The Environment And You?

Burning or combustion is always the root cause of the environmental problem, namely pollution and global warming. When you burn things (not just leaves), you are releasing into the atmosphere a large amount of carbon dioxide along with much particulate matter. If the combustion occurs in the absence of enough air, the production of carbon monoxide takes place. 

Talking About The Individual Contribution Of Products So Formed To The Atmosphere

  • Carbon dioxide is a significant contributor to greenhouse gasses. Excessive carbon dioxide levels in the air lead to the enhanced greenhouse effect, which is stemming the global crisis of global warming. 
  • The delicate particulate airborne matter released is carried far and can cause various respiratory problems and burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat. 
  • The carbon monoxide released is hazardous as it can bind with hemoglobin and deprive the body of its oxygen-carrying capacity leading to hypoxia and even death after prolonged exposure. 

This does not sum up the impact. There is always a threat of fire spreading and burning the locality. It only takes a slight breeze and a burning leaf to start the fire. It is recorded that almost 80% of forest fires result from the carelessness of humans. Hence it is vital to keep an eye till the last ember burns out to prevent any accidents.

Why Must You Think Twice Before Burning?

Even if you care less about the environment (though you should), you must still think twice before burning up the leaves because it can lead you into some legal trouble. Different localities have different policies regarding outdoor burning. Hence, it is better to get acquainted with the regulations imposed by the fire department to save yourself from any legal trouble. 

Alternatives To Burning!

The safest and most environmentally friendly way to get rid of the fallen leaves is composting. Collect the pile and put them into the composting bin. Along with other waste products, the leaves will slowly decompose and convert into compost which can be further used as manure for your garden beds.

Another great way suggested by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is to mulch them. Break the leaf debris into small sizes using a mulcher and leave them as such. Make sure there is a fine layer of mulch rather than converting the entire leaf to falling. 

If you do not want to be bothered by composting and mulching, you always have the option to collect them into a bag and dispose of them in the collecting dumpster.

Things To Keep In Mind While Burning

Though the cons of burning leaves severely outweigh the pros, still, if you want to burn them, here are some pointers to keep in mind!

  1. Limit your burning to small debris collected like leaves, twigs…etc. If there are larger logs, use them as firewood for chimneys or dispose of them off.
  2. Don’t burn things that are suspected of releasing poisonous substances. The particulate released may cause allergic reactions.
  3. Burn them when they are small in size rather than pilling them for later. A larger mass means you have a more considerable risk of getting things out of hand.
  4. Keep a safe distance from anything that can quickly catch fire. Keeping a note of wind direction is also helpful in this case to prevent any mishaps. 


When the planet is facing a major global crisis, it is high time when the public contributes its bit to reduce the carbon footprint. Composting and mulching is a great way to reuse the fallen leaves as natural fodder to the plants. However, if you don’t want to spend time in it, dispose of them in a collecting bin. Remember, your little effort makes the world more hospitable to live in.