There's something cathartic about torching a huge pile of leaves in the backyard. The whole thing goes up in flames against the red-orange backdrop of autumn, and you can almost forget that the neighbor’s kid just pitched his baseball through the garage window ... again.


In the naaame of smog

Before you clog the skies (and your lungs)

Think it ow-over.

Cathartic though it may be, leaf-burning produces all kinds of junk (hydrocarbon chemicals) that causes wheezing and nose/throat/eye irritation, and may even be carcinogenic. Not to mention air pollution, which we already have plenty of, thanks.

Instead of torching the place, mow fallen leaves right into the yard, so that they decompose on the spot (nothing wrong with that, kids, it's how nature does it), or take this wonderful opportunity to finally start composting. (If I told you how easy composting is, you wouldn't even believe me. Suffice it to say that in a compost pile, dried leaves are the magic ingredient.)

Then, if you still need anger management training, go for therapy, or a jog or something.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2007. The story was added to

Try not to burn, baby, burn
As satisfying as burning leaves may be, it's terrible for the planet.