The Case for Change
An organic organic approach to lawn care is over-due for so many reasons:
- Lawns are depleting our groundwater supplies: Some estimates indicate that lawn care uses 50% of our county’s potable water. Lawn irrigation, particularly in-ground watering systems, increase summer water use to levels three to five times higher than winter water use. Use of nitrogen-rich chemical fertilizers and fast-growing shallow-rooted grasses exacerbates the problem. Water shortages from your neighbors lawn care lead to increased water prices for everyone, water bans and enforced conservation. Many of the non-native lawn seeds from Europe or Kentucky, with very shallow roots, are naturally adapted to environments that are wetter than ours. In New England, and most of North America, these foreign, shallow root, high maintenance grasses leads to a pattern of frequent watering and frequent mowing, particularly if chemical fertilizer is used.
- Wasting energy and adding to greenhouse gases: Watering lawns with water that is filtered for human consumption and pumped to our homes wastes huge amounts of energy. Producing commercial fertilizers from petroleum is energy intensive, and costs are rising as oil prices rise. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, running a typical lawn mower for an hour is eleven times more polluting than running a mid-size car full of people and luggage for an hour. So, the energy-intensive fertilizer, water from the town and lawn mower pollution in a standard lawn greatly increases your family's carbon foot print.
- Run off and unnecessary health risks: A stagering amount of chemicals are used every year on lawns. Between 50% and 80% of lawn care chemicals run off lawns with the rain and into storm drains, ending up in the watershed or local ponds, causing algal blooms and feeding the invasive weeds out of control. Again, the majority of lawn chemicals is feeding the invasive weeds in our ponds, not on your lawn! Then, local communities use expensive herbicides to get rid of the invasive weeds in the ponds and low levels of both the fertilizer, pesticides and the herbicide may end up in your drinking water. Use of pesticides and fertilizer in urban and suburban communities contributes significantly to contamination of our drinking water and other surface water supplies. This also increases health risks to children, pets and the elderly and increases school department budgets from learning and behavioral disorders caused by the lawn care chemicals. So, chemicals put on your lawn impact the whole community in many ways, including finances, clean up, invasive weeds and health.
- What ends up in our homes affects children, animals and others: Lawn care chemicals and pesticides get carried indoors into homes on shoes, paws and air currents. Once inside, pesticides linger in carpets, dust, on toys and in the air we breathe. These chemicals normally break down outside over time with sunlight. However, away from sunlight and water, pesticides persist for many months, resulting in longer exposure to these chemicals indoors. According to health experts at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection prolonged exposure to the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers in lawn care chemicals is responsible for an alarming increase in the risk of learning and behavioral disorders in children and increased risk in adults for asthma, Parkinsons's disease, cancer and a number of other ailments. The increased health risks are much higher for children, the elderly and our pets. According to Dr. Margo Roman, a veterinary expert, "50 years ago, only 5% of dogs got cancer. Today, over 46% of dogs get cancer, and there is evidence suggesting this alarming rate is caused by the widespread use of lawn care fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides." In response to these concerns, "a new era in pesticide use has begun in Quebec with the banning of many domestic products that have chemicals considered toxic to humans and the environment." Read the report from the Organic Consumers Association.
Purchase and use Organic Fertilizers and other organic lawn products.
Wouldn't it be great if your lawn could lower your carbon footprint? Well, it can!