At SWACO, diverting waste from the Franklin County Sanitary Landfill is at the heart of everything we do. The more waste we can divert through recycling, the more we can help our environment.

Our Recycle Right campaign was designed to help residents understand how to properly recycle so that we can maximize the impact of our recycling efforts.

As the yard-care season quickly comes to an end, we want to ensure that you are managing your yard waste in a way that's quick and easy and also benefits the environment and community.

What is yard waste? -- Yard waste is organic material produced from the upkeep of lawns and gardens. This material -- which includes grass clippings, shrubbery, leaves, twigs, brush and weeds -- is not accepted at the landfill and can be better used by composting it. Keeping yard waste out of the landfill also benefits the environment by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and saving much-needed space in the landfill.

Fortunately, Franklin County residents have several options available for managing their yard-waste materials.

Composting at home -- Composting is a natural process in which decomposers, such as worms and microorganisms, transform organic materials into nutrient-rich soil.

Composting is a great way to enhance your garden's ability to grow healthy plants and lessen your volume of trash.

To compost at home, collect your yard waste in a pile or composting bin and let it sit for six to eight weeks, giving it plenty of time to decompose. The compost can then be tilled into your garden beds or used as mulch. Check out SWACO's "Composting at Home" guide for more information to help you get started.

Curbside collection -- Most communities in Franklin County collect yard waste from residents on a weekly or biweekly basis. To participate, you'll need to pick up biodegradable bags from your local grocery or hardware store or designate a container clearly marked "yard waste" that easily can be taken to the curb on pickup day.

Yard-waste items that are accepted through these programs include only the following: leaves, grass clippings, shrubs, weeds, brush and twigs.

It is imperative that no food waste, pet waste, dirt, rocks or trash make it into these containers. If they do, your yard waste, and the effort you expended to collect it, will be for naught.

These materials contaminate the yard waste, making it unusable as mulch or compost.

Drop-off programs -- SWACO also partners with local businesses to accept and process residents' yard waste and turn it into compost. The drop-off programs are free of charge when yard waste is brought in a biodegradable paper yard-waste bag to one of their locations.

As a result, SWACO helps Franklin County divert nearly 200,000 tons of organic and yard waste from the landfill each year. Go to SWACO.org/200/yard-waste to learn about participating businesses and locations.

Jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkins -- This Halloween, consider composting rotten jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkins instead of throwing them in the trash. When the insides and any candles or wax are removed, disposing of your pumpkin responsibly is as easy as smashing it into smaller pieces and adding it to your compost pile.

You also can compost a pumpkin by itself. First, find a spot in your yard away from daily activity. Place your pumpkin in the desired location and smash it into smaller pieces. Finally, cover the pieces with a layer of leaves and let nature do its work.

With the multitude of quick, easy and inexpensive options available for Franklin County residents, we hope you will take these steps to dispose of yard waste properly and ensure it is used to benefit rather than harm our environment.

What questions do you have about recycling or composting? Email me at questions@swaco.org and I'll do my best to answer them in a future column.

In the meantime, you can find more information about composting, recycling and disposing of unwanted materials at SWACO.org.

Ty Marsh is executive director of SWACO. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Community News.