Celebrate Earth Month by recycling

Celebrate Earth Month by recycling

By Lynn Owens
Sustainable Scripps Ranch

This Earth Month, we’ll get “down and dirty,” “into the weeds” of greenery recycling. How does the Miramar landfill create fabulous, free compost and mulch for us? The key is getting the right materials in – clean, uncontaminated plant material that can be ground up, mixed with commercial food waste, then spread, watered and turned for 70 days while it heats and decomposes.

DON’Tput anything but plant material into your green can: NO glass, plastic, paper, poop, pots, rocks, bricks or even shovelfuls of dirt as these can ruin the compost and decertify the beautiful results.

SURPRISE! DO put all these plant items into your green can:

• plants, weeds, leaves and grass clippings (shake off dirt from roots as much as possible)

• palm fronds (but not palm seeds/nuts), banana trees, birds of paradise

• cactus and yucca plants and succulents of all types

• shrub and tree trimmings that are less than four feet long and six inches in diameter

• clean, untreated, unpainted wood, plywood, and particle board

Large quantities of palm fronds, succulents, etc. overpower the landfill’s greenery grinding tools, so commercial landscapers are not allowed to dump these materials. However, in small household quantities, one green bin at a time, they are fine.

Then what? You can self-load up to two cubic yards of compost or mulch per trip, for free, with proof of San Diego city residency. (Wood chips are also available but you have to pay for them.) One cubic yard is about six 32-gallon trash cans. Bring your own mask, shovels, containers, and maybe a tarp. Big containers are heavy; use smaller containers (5-10 gallons) or fill big ones in position in your vehicle. If you have an open truck, city personnel can load for you, for a fee. Details of availability and pricing:

What’s the point?

Better air: Green waste dumped into the landfill decomposes without oxygen. As a result, it generates methane gas which reduces air quality and increases global climate issues. City composting aerates the decomposing greenery to avoid methane gas creation and release.

Better soils and better water use: Soil is a key to life. Compost improves heavy clay Scripps Ranch soils and lets us grow better, healthier plants with less water and less runoff. Mulch helps hold water in the garden, keeping water usage lower and avoiding runoff.

Better community: Working with the city recycling systems improves life for all. Here’s to happy Earth Month 2021. Contact us at or visit for tips and links.