Guest post by Lewis Davies
Stock up on eco-fuel for winter by recycling autumn leaves
Autumn is a spectacular season heralding the end of summer with a cascade of red, brown and golden falling leaves. Most of us appreciate nature’s beauty at this time of year, but consider the task of raking up and bagging the leaves to be a painful chore with little benefit. However, the leaves that fall from the trees in this season are a great source of carbon-neutral fuel that we can stock up on to last us through the winter.
Bagging up leaves (and other so-called “garden waste”) for the refuse collectors to take away, and pile on top of already heaving landfill sites, is a tragic and unnecessary end to their lifecycle. For those of us with a stove, cast iron or clay chiminea or firebowl we are passing up on the chance to do a little bit for the environment – and for our wallets.
Rather than add to the problem during the autumn we can simply recycle the leaves into eco-logs. All you need to do this is to get your hands on a log maker, which are available from most good garden centers or through online eco-stores. These handy little tools basically compact the waste into logs with the use of a sheet of newspaper. Of course, you are not limited to just recycling leaves. Any recyclable household or garden waste can be recycled so the benefits of the log makers can be utilized all year round.
This leads on to the benefits of the fuel, which is both eco-friendly and free. It’s eco-friendly because the carbon that it emits when burnt is exactly equal to the carbon it absorbed over its lifetime. In essence you cannot get a more carbon neutral fuel. You may consider, therefore, that logs bought from the local garden centre to also be carbon neutral, but you must also consider the amount of energy which was used to both cut the trees down and then to transport them. This may add up to quite the carbon footprint, which is something you can avoid altogether.
Secondly, there is the matter of cost. If you have trees in your garden, or in a local park, then there is no cost in simply using these as raw materials for your logs. Indeed at this time of year you can often see bags of garden waste piled up next to houses waiting to be taken away the next time the refuse truck drops by. Why not do everyone (and the earth) a favour and ask if you can take them home to make yourself some free chiminea fuel?
In my experience with my kids this can become a very enjoyable way of teaching the value of recycling in a way that children can see the benefits of getting involved. A roaring fire by the chiminea in winter is a great reward for doing your bit for the environment and your wallet.
Lewis is an outdoor living eco-living enthusiast and writes for Chimenea UK