We love this time of year when the grass is coming up thick and green and we need to mow almost once a week. But it’s also the time of year when we’re assaulted by lawn care companies wanting us to sign up for a full season’s worth of care. What’s that care consist of? Why spraying fertilizer and herbicide, of course.
Now we’ve addressed using harmful chemicals on our lawns before. And we still think that a good solution, especially where saving water is important (and that’s a lot of places these days), is to plant a xeric, drought-tolerant lawn. But lawns are wonderful things, certainly for those of us who have families. They are the places our children play, where our pets roam, where we gather with friends and relatives to recreate or just enjoy the solace of being outdoors. We want them to be as safe as possible.
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Of course, it’s not that hard to have a wonderful lawn without harmful chemicals. But many of our neighbors — even us at one time in the distant past — were swayed by the weed-and-feed ads and thought it necessary to broadcast something a corporation sent us to kill weeds and make grass green.
That’s why we were heartened to find Diane Lewis’ piece on the opinion page of The New York Times “The Toxic Brew In Our Backyards.”
Lewis is a doctor and founder of The Great Healthy Yards Project. Her piece lays it out straight. We don’t need them. By using them on our lawns and gardens we not only endanger ourselves but our families, our neighbors, wildlife, our water supply, and the environment at large. The chemicals in those sprays can, according to Lewis, “end up in drinking water, and in some cases these compounds or their breakdown products are linked to an increased risk for cancer and hormonal disruption.” And, yes, she’s goes into details.
The amounts of these chemicals are small and often considered “acceptable,” but scientists now know that they have a cumulative effect. Many chemicals that we use very casually on our lawns cause long-term health problems in ways that have only recently been understood. They “disrupt,” or throw out of whack, the endocrine system, made up of glands and hormones that control almost every aspect of our bodies’ functions.
The heartening thing about this piece is that it has brought the subject to a wider audience. It’s a message that needs to be heard. For too long we’ve taken for granted practices that endanger our children and our world at large. Isn’t it time to stop? We urge you to go The Great Healthy Yard Project for more background and insight. A healthy green lawn may be a part of the American Dream, but not if that lawn holds harmful, even dangerous chemicals.