I agree!! If you have a local town, there are many, many bags of free leaves already raked up and bagged for you. I collected nearly 300 large bags of leaves this year in just a 3-4 day period...easy work. It was more work just opening all those bags and spreading the leaves. Some were stored for coop bedding, most were used on the orchard and garden.
Very few of these bags had foreign objects in them...mostly plastic water bottles, potted plant markers, odds and ends of plastic. These were easily found and removed when emptying the bags.
I'll be doing the same thing next fall if I'm still here and have given eggs and compost to one couple, in particular, who have said they will save their leaves for me...they pick up 90 bags per fall off their pin oaks! They also chop the leaves before bagging, so they have the perfect leaf collection. I also have taken eggs to another older couple with oak and maple trees and they too bag up around 100 bags per year and said I could have them again in the fall. I'll keep giving these people eggs and garden produce this season so they will remember the dividends of their leaves come fall.
I also scout for free wood chips~not wood shavings or sawdust~but ramial wood chips wherein the tree's smaller limbs and leaves have been shredded along with their branches so that the green material has been piled with the brown and all the particles are of different size and shape. This makes for the best long term compost of all, as all of those particles compost at different rates and it creates a great heat.
Recently I found a source of free loose straw that had been sitting in a pile for a long while...underneath is black as coal, the top part loose straw, so the combination makes for some great composting choices.
Just put the word out early and often, keep your eyes open and you may find yourself the recipient of some great free materials for coop and run bedding. Corn shucks make for great air spaces....many people would love to have them cleaned out of their gardens at the end of the season. Weeds, flower trimmings, grass clippings, etc.
The imperative word here is FREE.
I have a question about this. When gathering from people's yards, should I be worried about pesticides? I was thinking of contacting the people around town who clean up people's yards, and seeing if I could have the lawn clippings, hedge trimmings, etc. My only worry is that I don't know what I'm bringing in. I live in a desert region, so there's very few wild areas I can collect leaves, pine needles, etc. It would mostly have to come from people's yards. The only thing growing wild around here is tumbleweeds.