Lawn People

Before reading the book I guess I had a subconcious notion that lawns were not the natural state that American culture portrays them to be. Our culture is seemingly obsessed about our lawns, and actually a guy I used to work with used to mow his lawn at least once a week, sometimes even three times – talk about emissions. Our culture has brought the idea of a perfectly groomed space of land into a billion dollar business, even using these spaces as status symbols, separating the “haves” and “have nots”. The author also brings up another interesting point, that an untidy lawn reflects poorly on the inhabitants of the property. A messy lawn must surely mean a messy house and an unkempt person. However on the other hand sometimes you see those cars filled with trash in the back, that too reflects poorly on the driver, so any perception of a dirty or messy lifestyle automatically makes one assume their whole life is the same way – it is human nature.

The author brings up several interesting socio-economic assumptions – for one that wealthy individuals have more of an understanding and general concern for the environment. “Poorer” individuals may either not care, or not be educated in the destruction that chemicals can have on the environment. However, although the wealthier individuals share concern about the environment, it is they who also pepper their lawns with chemicals to have the “perfect” lawn! Either this is a class issue, or an easily excused “well everyone is doing it” issue. Keeping up with the Jones’s is not only creating hardly natural landscapes but killing the natural ones as well.

I couldn’t help but reflect on my own lawn at home, where I know we put some chemicals down, however I have never thought about the environmental costs the surrounding areas incur. I totally neglected to even think about it, but once I started reading the book I felt as though I had known this the whole time. Sometimes people accept things because they are the norm, but once people point out the problems with what is socially acceptable, these once acceptable actions become turned onto their heads.

I think many of the ideas and facts raised by the author were so obvious, yet because of our culture they go un-noticed. Spraying our lawns with chemicals, potentially hurting not only ourselves but the surrounding ecosystem is the least natural thing people can do, and yet we are led to believe that this is the natural state of a lawn due to our culture.

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