If you’re old enough to remember a time when you could burn leaves in New Jersey, then you probably remember how much fun it was, and the festivities it brought.

Flickr User Joiseyshowaa

If you’ve ever gone to a leaf burning party, then you would remember the smells, the food that may have been cooked in the burning pile, and singing around the fire. Some of you might be remembering these moments while reading this.

Mark Di Ionno reminisced about leaf burning in his column. The following passage is from Di Ionno's article 'Jersey Tradition Gone up in Smoke.'

For the record, New Jersey outlawed burning leaves on Jan. 1, 1972, as part of sweeping air pollution controls. It says so in the state Department of Environmental Protection’s administrative code.

“No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the disposal of fallen leaves by open burning.”

That goes for rubbish, garbage, trade waste, buildings, structures, plants, grass, etc., without permits.

There are sound arguments for not burning leaves. Leaf smoke releases some of the same cancerous chemicals found in cigarette smoke. The carbon monoxide reduces oxygen in the lungs and even the bloodstream. It’s bad for people with asthma and other respiratory ailments. No surprise there.

And, of course, if every homeowner in every town burned every leaf, we’d be looking at coal plant levels of pollutants traveling skyward.

So instead, we bag them and cart them to landfills. We compost them and shift the pollution from air to water, but to a much smaller degree. Or we leave them to blow around and somehow disintegrate somewhere.

If it were an option, would you like to be able to burn leaves in NJ again?