Thursday, April 5, 2012

You're working for Mordor and I'm trying to live in Lothlorien

Lawn chemical companies say I deserve a better a lawn than this.
I don't recall ever mentioning this at my blog directly but I'm an environmentalist.


Because it is irrational not to care about my environment and whether or not it is healthy and able to sustain life in perpetuity.

I've come to the dismal realization that I can't really do much to prevent the widespread destruction of our beautiful planet. I know that Earth will have Her revenge on all of us sooner or later. Most of us who are paying attention are already feeling it.

What I can do is protect my immediate habitat which is my home and yard. I never apply any pesticides or herbicides. Insects and weeds hardly warrant pouring poison on my own land.

Amazingly, getting people to poison their own land is huge business. I see my neighbors having their lawns sprayed by these foul concoctions meant to make their lawns so green and lovely. Then the chemical worker sticks cute little signs in the ground that say children should not play on it until after it rains.

And people PAY for this, which brings me to my story. Every spring clean cut young salesmen come knocking on my door from these companies that want to broadcast toxic chemicals. (And yes it is always young men because the companies want to appeal to suburban cougars who answer the doors and control bank accounts.)

A nice young gentlemen from a familiar "poison the lawn your children and pets play on" company visited me not too long ago. We had an amusing conversation during which I constantly reminded myself not to lapse into some hostile rant even though in my mind I was indulging in a Sarah Connor-esque tirade.

Salesman: "You deserve the best lawn possible."

Me: "I like it the way it is."
[I smile lovingly at my straggling mass of clover, rye, and stuff that grew on its own.]

Salesman: "It really doesn't cost as much as you think."

Me: "I'm not interested in the service and don't need another bill."
[Why would I pay anyone to spray fertilizer and herbicide on my lawn that already looks so lovely?]

Salesman: "We could get rid of these weeds and make everything nice and green."

Me: "It pretty much grows nice all on its own."
[You fool! The weeds are contributing significantly to my habitat diversity. Why do you want to transform my lawn into a toxic and sterile wasteland?]

Salesman: "Can I just write down for you what it will cost."

Me: "OK, sure."
[I'll indulge you because I'm trying not to be mean.]

He showed me the figure $350 for the season.

Salesman: "Was it about what you thought it'd be?"

Me: "I suppose, but it doesn't matter. I have no interest in the service."
[Whether it was 10 cents or a million dollars, it still is unthinkable that I would pay for this or even let anyone do this to my property.]

Salesman: "Why don't you want it?"

Me: "Because I don't put any chemicals on my property. I do all organic gardening, including my lawn."
[Duh. Why would anyone want harmful chemicals that kill things broadcast repeatedly on their land?]

Salesman: "We have an organic fertilizer. It's a polymer molecule that slowly releases the fertilizer and there's no herbicide so you'll still have weeds but the grass will be green."

Me: "My grass is already green."
[You seem like a nice person why are you working for evil?]

I'm sure he doesn't realize that he's working for evil, but the lawn chemical industry is responsible for monstrous amounts of pollution across the continent and no one knows how many medical problems. Once upon a time I never considered what was in these weeding and feeding lawn products. When I bought my first home I would apply the fertilizer granules with the weed killers and think that it was a normal thing to do. Then I got a puppy and decided to actually read the bag of lawn product. It said not to let your pets on the lawn after applying the product until after it rained. Well, at the time I lived in Northern California and it was not necessarily going to rain any time soon, so where was I supposed to put my pets? Then I thought why would I put something on my lawn that seemed to be implying it was bad for pets? Um, if it's bad for pets it must be bad for me.

I haven't bought any more lawn chemical products since that day. I realized that if I wanted to nurture life in my home, then killing most of everything living in my yard was in direct opposition to my goal.

Then I did a little research and learned that common lawn chemicals are quite harmful. Here's a smattering of information on the subject.

From the report Poison In The Grass: The Hazards And Consequences Of Lawn Pesticides by Nathan Diegelman The S.T.A.T.E. Foundation

"Symptoms of pesticide poisoning are often deceptively simple, commonly mis-diagnosed as flu or allergies. They include, but are not limited to, headaches, nausea, fever, breathing difficulties, seizures, eye pains, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, sore nose, tongue, or throat; burning skin, rashes, coughing, muscle pain, tissue swelling, blurred vision, numbness and tingling in hands or feet, incontinence, anxiety, irritability, sleep disorders, hyperactivity, fatigue, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, spontaneous bleeding, and temporary paralysis. Long-term consequences include lowered fertility, birth defects, miscarriages, blindness, liver and kidney dysfunction, neurological damage, heart trouble, stroke, immune system disorders, menstrual problems, memory loss, suicidal depression, cancer, and death. The National Academy of Sciences reports that at least one out of seven people are significantly harmed by pesticide exposure each year.(3) Increasingly, reports from many people around the country are "beginning to link feeling terrible with the fact the neighbors had the lawn sprayed the day before", notes Catherine Karr, a toxicologist for the National Coalition Against The Misuse Of Pesticides."

From the report Risks from Lawn Care Chemicals from Environment and Human Health Inc.

"There is growing evidence of links between pesticide exposures and the risk of human cancers, including acute childhood leukemia with home pesticide use and non-Hodgins lymphoma with exposures to herbicides," said D. Barry Boyd, M.D., an oncologist at Greenwich Hospital and board member of EHHI.

From A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet at

"Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system."

I like to imagine that the salesmen coming to my door are blissfully unaware of these issues. They do not know that they are spreading evil and disease. I do, so I will try to keep the barren ugliness of their dark lords outside the porous borders of my green realm. These poisons still drift in on the wind when my neighbors use them. The smell makes me choke and I have to shut my windows. I can't do anything about that, but I will never pay anyone to do it to me.