Merry Wanderer of the Night + weekend

Leif Reads: Why It's Good to Say No Thanks to Lawn Care

I don't know about you, but I always thought the whole lawn care thing was stupid. My dad spent his whole weekend mowing the yard when I was a kid and it looked so boring. It didn't help that when he taught me how to mow the lawn I ran into the clothesline. I never mowed again.

But seriously-- why do we care so much about lush green yards? It's supposed to be a sign of dedication, hard work, neighborliness, and pride. Unfortunately lawns across America are poisoning the people living on them and their neighbors. See, the green grass in all these yards is not native grass which means it requires a lot of upkeep, including a pesticide called 2,4-D. 2,4-D causes lots of nasty problems, the most terrifying is a type of blood cancer. It's easily absorbed through the skin and lungs and causes other problems besides cancer, like nausea, vomiting, and birth defects.

I'm a huge fan of the This American Life radio show and recently I watched the TV show on Netflix. In season two episode two there is a story about a Bulgarian man living with his wife in the United States. He loves his home, neighborhood, and wife, but he refuses to mow the lawn. This is seemingly the only argument he and his wife have, and his wife is terrified of what will happen if he doesn't start mowing the lawn. I mean, terrified. Rightly so. Slow Death by Rubber Duck mentions three cases where people were taken to court for not keeping up their lawn. In all these cases the lawn owners won, but I'm sure there are cases where they have not.

Interestingly the writers of this book didn't really do any experiment related to 2,4-D. The reason they didn't is cosmetic pesticides are illegal in Ontario. And Quebec. And Alberta. Rightly so, as "[i]n farming families in North America, for instance, there is a higher incidence of miscarriages and birth defects than in the general population. Farmers in Ontario who use pesticides also have lower sperm counts and poorer-quality sperm than non-farmers" (202). The effects of pesticides aren't just limited to farms and those who apply pesticides to lawns though, they effect everyone. Unfortunately cosmetic pesticide bans are extremely rare in the U.S. because it is such a huge industry and people continually buy into the green lawn dream, whether they really believe in it or are just following the crowd.

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Leif Reads: Why It's Good to Say No Thanks to Lawn Care + weekend