It’s a great time for people who love to talk about yard waste. And that, friends, is a lot of people judging by web traffic on our articles about it over the last couple years.

Yard waste is part of the effluvia of property ownership: lawn clippings, dead and removed tree branches, pulled weeds, fallen leaves and everything else that’s keeping your yard from looking perfect.

In Winston-Salem, two new leaf trucks were added to the fleet, which collects leaves curbside throughout the city three times a year. They ran about $250,000 apiece.

Greensboro ended loose-leaf collection in February, opting instead for a new system that incorporates all yard waste and not just autumn leaves. Over the next few weeks, the city will issue yard-waste containers — 75,000 of them — to residents for their yard waste, which will be picked up weekly on garbage collection day until July 1. The containers alone will cost $3.75 million, plus interest on the bond and the added cost of pickup.

As previously mentioned, people are quite interested in this city amenity, much more so than a lot of other things our cities do. It’s worth noting that not everyone directly benefits from this yard-waste collection. It’s essentially a subsidy for single-occupancy homeowners, a subset of the general population. For example, according to the Census, as of July 2022 there were about 120,000 households in Greensboro; just 60 percent or so will get the yard-waste canisters.

But this is how cities work: Not everyone takes the bus, but the city needs robust public transit; not everyone’s house will catch fire, but we need a fire department. 

And sometimes everyone benefits indirectly from government expenditures. Consider public school, which directly benefits people with young kids but also benefits everyone else because if there weren’t any public schools, the streets would be filled with wayward children all day, children who would grow up without any formal education.

Yard-waste collection benefits those with yards, but also the people who must drive through streets that would otherwise be covered with leaves.

This, friends, is socialism. It’s how cities work. If you don’t like it, move to an unincorporated part of the county and burn your leaves in your yard.

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