Lawn People Reaction- Madeline

March 31, 2008

I found this book to be interesting and frankly, rather disturbing as well. The whole concept of a lawn culture was one that I’d never given a thought to, but once I started thinking about it, it makes so much sense! In my opinion, I used to live across the street from the ultimate “lawn person.” In fact, our family, not one to do much in the way of lawn-care other than a weekly mowing done on Wednesday evenings (not because everyone else mowed on Wednesdays or because the neighbors frequently had Thursday afternoon tea parties but simply because the trash was picked up on Thursday mornings and my dad liked to have the clippings taken away immediately so they wouldn’t start to rot…) even gave this ultimate “lawn person” a nickname. We called him the “incredible working man,” or IWM for short. The word “working” was used to specifically refer to yardwork as we had no idea what type of work he actually did. But one would think that he had all the time in the world and perhaps did not work at all, other than on the lawn. The house did not have much by way of flowers but the grass itself was immaculate. Always. In addition, I know that this immaculate lawn caused my best friend’s mother some strife. Living so close to the immaculate lawn was difficult for her as she could also be described as a “lawn person.” Whatever company she used, however, killed the lawn on purpose once a year for a period of a few weeks. I know this drove her crazy but she kept it up in the hopes of having an even better lawn when it came back? Anyway, these have been my experiences with lawn people and it was really interesting to read a more in-depth study of them and their culture. Other than the really scientific parts, I enjoyed the book.


March 26, 2008


not so much about the environment but it does have to do with the chemistry aspect of science. this man has created more than 300 drugs and has tried about 250 of them he is known as an psychonaut for the creations of all of the psychoactive compounds.

Nike makes Green shoes

March 26, 2008

Recently, Nike has developed and produced an environmentally friendly shoe.  The new line is called Trash Talk.  This is an athletic shoe that is made up of old shoe scraps.  Steve Nash, of the Phoenix Suns is their major endorsement, who wore the shoes during the all-star game in February.  The aim is to create a quality shoe made out of scrap rubber and reused material.  As far as quality goes, so far there has been no complaints from users.

After doing a little more research I found that Nike wasn’t just making this shoe to increase sales in a particular market. Nike has been conscious of the environment as early as 1998, when they started their Reuse-A-Shoe program.  They took it one step further and came up with a shoe that is stylish and can uphold to the Nike standards even for professional athletes.  It will be interesting to see where Nike takes this product and I’m curious to see if it will be a hit.


Oil Exploration in Amazon Threatens “Unseen” Tribes

March 26, 2008


This article kind of reminded me of the wilderness discussions we have had in the past over what it truly is and whether it still exists. This article takes a look at a native Indian group in the Peruvian Amazon that is considered to be one of the last “unseen” tribes in the world. Apparently people have seen these natives rarely when the tribe ventures to shore for turtle eggs although there has not been any recent established contact.

The reason this “unseen” tribe is becoming such a concern is because with such scarcities of oil, developers and oil companies are starting to seek the Amazon for extra oil supply. Outside contact for such an “unseen” tribe could imply devastating effects. Isolated Indian tribes (estimated to be 15 different uncontacted tribes) are vulnerable to any outsider diseases because they have no immunity built up. Read the rest of this entry »

Lawn People (With Siobhan and Keller)

March 26, 2008

Kim Sinclair



Lawn People (Chs.4, 5)
Ch. 4-Input is inevitable since there is an aesthetic demand for a monocultural lawn i.e. weed-free, purified, uniform, and atemporal.

The Dawn and Maturing of Lawn Chemistry

-I found it interesting how, in the early 1900’s, people were drawn toward the idea of the aesthetic lawn, even though the resources were either expensive or unavailable (pest control, etc) at the time.

-I also found it interesting, in the tables on pages 47 and 48, how more and more chemicals were being used as the years went on and technology improved for herbicidal and insecticidal treatment.  What do you think about that?  Was this a good pattern to start following?

-The mercury bichloride really struck me, since we now know mercury is

hazardous.  Did we know it was as hazardous as we know it today, then?

-We used livestock less and less over the years, as these chemicals began to be produced.  Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to allow the livestock to do their thing, as opposed to buying all those chemicals, numerous times a year?  Was the decline of livestock used to keep our lawns aesthetically pleasing due to the change in civilization, where everyone started moving to and living in cities?

-I didn’t know that DDT was used, let alone developed before 1970.  The fact it was developed in the late 1930’s and was deemed hazardous in 1946 and banned in numerous places in the 80’s intrigued me.  I remember hearing about when I was in middle school, how it was used in bug repellant and some big fiasco about it.

-I’d think that the use of all these chemicals in our lawns would have affected us by now, especially since children eat dirt and grass.  Those chemicals must get in our system somehow, even through eating whatever we eat.  Does that bother you?

-What I don’t understand is how we still use 2,4-D even though we know of the health risks it has on animals, but not long-term problems in humans?  Are we that into having an aesthetic lawn that we don’t even consider the rest of the ecology around us?

-I don’t understand why we still use lawn chemicals, even though we know they are hazardous in general.  Is it due to our increasing laziness, or being overly busy and not having the time to get down on our hands and knees like they did in the day?


-I know that nitrogen is the main source of hazardous run-off that causes blue-baby syndrome in infants and causes lakes to “turn over.”  I also know that due to the industry and need for profit, farmers actually put way too much fertilizers on their crops than is necessary, thus causing the problem of run-off.

-Lawn chemicals are found in our house!  Imagine that!  What with children rolling around in the grass, who’da thunk?

-By adding inputs to lawns, it can affect the natural ecology (killing off earthworms) and thus raising a need to increase inputs to keep the lawn “healthy.”

Lawn Risks Defy Regulation

-Regulation of inputs is normally only placed on areas of 3 acres or more, thus leaving the suburban lawns out of it, which eventually make up for the regulation placed on larger land parcels.  Thus, making the regulation null.

Ch. 5

-There must always be two sides to a story, and of course, even if the EPA deems a chemical safe, there has to be someone, somewhere, to counteract that statement and cause a fuss.  Do you think this is to bring awareness to the fact that it is a chemical and that it should be treated as one, no matter how harmless?  Or that it is just the companies raising awareness about the chemical, as a nontraditional way of advertising?

-There are many links to the lawn care chain, dominantly companies and corporations that rely on the homeowner to make a profit.  Therefore, I believe that the industry produces demand by advertising the aesthetic lawn and all of things that need to be done to make it so.

-The rising cost of chemicals comes from the rising cost of testing new compounds to come up with one good pesticide, rising cost of research, and the patent law.  Thus, allowing for the profit that lawn chemical companies make

-The supply of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that sets the conditions for chemical demand.

-Lawns in which homeowners apply chemicals to themselves and those that just let theirs do its own thing, have been found to display results of no significant difference.  Lawns that are cared for applicator companies at least show a result from having these chemicals sprayed on their lawn.

-“Despite the confident safety assertions of lawn care application companies, hands on chemical workers remain less than fully convinced.  The army of young people in the applicator industry, handling potentially toxic substances, is doing so during key years of physiological development, with ramifications that may last for the rest of their lives.” Page 87.  How do you feel about that?

Warming seen having immunological consequences

March 25, 2008

This article, from Reuters online discusses how global warming is impacting human health. The first ever bee-sting related deaths were reported in 2006 in Fairbanks, Alaska. Researchers suspect they can be attributed to global warming as honeybees and yellowjackets were previously rare in Alaska. Now, however, the yellowjacket population has increased tenfold. The increase in the insect population also increases the risk of vector-borne illnesses which many believe the public is just not ready to handle. full article.


Lawsuit Seeks to Block Uranium Mining at Grand Canyon

March 25, 2008

Recently, the Kaibab National Forest has approved 39 new “experimental” uranium drilling sites in the southern boundary of the park- only a few miles from the Grand Canyon. The decision was made without revealing an environmental review to the public. Three conservation organizations have filed a lawsuit requesting that the Forest Service overturn their prior decision. In addition to acknowledging the issue of mining on national forest property, this article also demonstrates the feelings people have towards our National Parks. Many are outraged that uranium mining would be allowed near the Grand Canyon, but would they be so concerned if it was happening somewhere not so prestigious? This article reminded me about our conversations in class about how people can have no qualms with setting a plot of land aside to remain “pristine” while intensely depleting or misusing the rest, not thinking about how our actions in everyday life can affect many areas of the world.  You can read more here


Pedal for Food

March 24, 2008

Cycling For Food: Engineers Work On Pedal-powered Grain Crusher

Three college students (2 are civil engineering majors and 1 is a mechanical engineering major) came up with the idea to develop a pedal-powered grain crusher. Their goal was to produce a fairly simple mechanical device that people in developing countries can use to process anything from corn to barley. If this really works, the grain crusher can help produce food for residents for Third World countries and enable some people to generate an income as they travel from community to community. The students have been working on this device for the past two years. They along with a professor as part of a Rowan Engineering Clinic, have built an aluminum grain crusher that attaches to the bicycle, which is mounted on a stand. As a rider pedals, the back wheel moves a contact element that turns a pulley that moves plates in the crusher to process the food from large fine pieces suitable for cooking. The grain crusher has crushed corn, lentils, split peas and barley.

For more information, here is the article:


Toxic mud being removed in Montana

March 19, 2008

“MILLTOWN, Mont. – Every evening, a 45-car train rumbles away from the Clark Fork River, loaded not with copper, gold or silver ore, but with the toxic legacy of more than a century of mining: tons of contaminated mud from behind an old dam.

Workers are removing 2.2 million cubic yards of the muck — and dismantling the 101-year-old Milltown Dam — in a breathtakingly scenic part of Montana trout-fishing country celebrated in Norman Maclean’s novel “A River Runs Through It.”

 More here.

Nordstrom Bags It

March 18, 2008

Nordstrom, the upscale department store chain, is getting on the “green” bag bandwagon.  The company recently announced that, starting in April, it will begin transitioning to shopping bags, gift boxes and tissue paper that are 100% recyclable.  The company is also introducing a reusable shopping tote.  The foldable, metallic brushed linen bag will feature a cityscape design representing every city where a Nordstrom store can be found.  The bag comes in a little case that serves as the bottom of the bag when it is unfolded.  It is big enough to fit two shoe boxes and the bag will be available to buy for $21.95.  It will first be marketed in the Northwest, Northern California and Southern California.

This article as short, but Nordstrom is making small steps to becoming more environmentally friendly.

You can read the entire article here: