I really love having lawns. As an environmentalist I hate to admit that, but it’s true. I like to run on them, I like to chase my dog on them, and I really like to lay out on them. However, contemporary lawn care methods as pointed out in the book, make it so that I really shouldn’t do any of those things. The chemicals used stick to your shoes/clothes/feet, are dragged in and left on the carpet where your crawling baby or toddler will pick them up and inevitably swallow them down. If they’re inside and don’t pick them up on their own feet the same fate will meet your pets. This wouldn’t be a problem if there wasn’t such a strong link to cancer for each of the chemicals. And even if the cancer doesn’t get to you from direct contact from your lawn, it will likely find a way to make it down to the groundwater where it is leached into our aquifers or wells. Then other problems arise like Blue Baby Syndrome, a result of excess nitrogen in the water from the fertilizers.
The first part of the book pretty much just talks about the variety of lawns, which is pretty interesting to think that there could be so much variation in the stuff that will eventually just get treated and mowed until it has the appearance of a nice shag carpet, or plastic grass depending on where you live. Where I used to live in Texas many people would just tear up their yards completely and put down stone. It blew my eight year old mind to think that such a thing were even possible. Of course those who did this did it so that they didn’t have to comply with the strict water conservation ordinances which left most lawns brown and rougher to play on than any pebbles could be. Still, it seemed so exotic. Where would they barbeque? How could they teach their kids to throw a baseball if they were sliding around on stones? It seemed unAmerican.
Although I said I liked lawns for their utility, in most other ways I think that they are a toxic pit for rich white Americans to throw their money into so that they can take up space of all of the property that they own that they don’t really use or have any purpose for other than showing off at the occasional cookout. This article explains a lot about the cost of spread, and obtaining a lawn seems a definite part of that process. My favorite part of the book was the section on alternatives which I found to be quite sufficient and useful. It brought up a lot of things I wouldn’t otherwise think of doing and was very creative.
Questions: 1. How does having a lawn compete with other signs of social status. 2. How do people justify the hardwork and money put into lawns?? 3. Do you think alternatives will be taken seriously and embraced?