Lawns can look great, and they are a great place for playtime,
family socializing, etc. But the way we maintain them can have a big
effect on the environment.
The pesticides and fertilizers that we put on our lawns don’t just
remain on our own yards. When it rains, some of those chemicals run
off our yards into other fields, and eventually into our streams and
waterways. Trace amounts are even carried down through our lawn and
seep into our groundwater. When you take into account that there are
tens of millions of lawns, you recognize that the consequence is
that literally tons of unwanted fertilizer and pesticides flow into
our waterways every year.
If someone were to ask you whether it would be okay to pour
fertilizer and pesticides into your local stream—even in small
amounts—you would almost surely say no. Just remember that that is
the choice you are faced with when it comes to lawn treatments. We
are not suggesting that you have to give up your entire lawn-care
regimen. We are asking only that you think carefully about each
chemical application, and that you keep it to a minimum. Please do
not just sign a contract and otherwise turn your back on the
process. Please assure yourself that every single application is
really necessary—that the applications occur at the lowest possible
concentration, and at the lowest possible frequency.
We understand that people like lawns. We do too! But if we douse our
lawns with chemicals every time we perceive an imperfection, then we
are not being responsible citizens. We are not being responsible
stewards of the environment.
Look at this lawn, it looks good, it makes an excellent place to
play Frisbee, for neighborhood picnics, etc. Well, it may surprise
you to know that this lawn has not received a single chemical
application of any type in the past 15 years.
Sure, there are broad leaves poking their heads up here and there.
But mowing effectively keeps the broad leaves under control, and the
owner has the satisfaction of knowing that no harmful chemicals of
any type run off of his land into the environment. He also has the
satisfaction of knowing that the skin of the barefoot children
playing in his yard come into contact with nothing but nature’s
This truly is a situation where we have a choice. We can think
globally and act locally.