I spend a lot of my time mowing these days. Why? What is it about a freshly cut lawn that inspires in us a sense of pleasure and well-being? Whatever it is, I have it and it seems most people do, although it doesn’t make much sense given the time, money, and associated environmental costs.
Lawns are our biggest crop, occupying close to 40 million acres of land and the mowers required to maintain them are accountable for about 5% of the nation’s air pollution. Besides, around 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled each year while filling mowers, which is more fuel than was lost during the Exxon Valdez spill.
Not only that, Americans use around 80 million lbs. each of pesticides and fertilizers in their yards each year, much of which is washed into watersheds.
One more thing. We use around 9 billion gallons of water each day keeping our yards green, in spite of lingering droughts in many areas of the country. In fact, the city of Phoenix just halted new housing developments because the city is running out of ground water.
Admittedly it’s not as much fun to spread a beach towel over a bed of sharp pink rocks as it is to lie down on a freshly manicured lawn, but we may have to get used to it.