Seriously…honestly tell me which option sounds better: A) cranking up your smoke belching monster of a mower to keep up with the Jones’s next door to see which of you can create the most greenhouse gases possible, pollute our water supplies, and contribute BILLIONS of dollars to a lawn industry that results in only causing damage to the environment and your pocket book or B) spending the afternoon lounging in your green lawn, feeling the soft carpet of clover beneath your feet, maybe finding a four leaf clover or two, and knowing in the back of your mind that you are making the right decision to keep your property in a pollinator friendly matter that also happens to be a huge benefit in keeping green house gas emissions in check? I know my answer…
In my previous blog post https://mdst485class.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/yep-im-that-neighbor/ , I discussed the importance of switching lawns back to their native prairie status for a variety of reasons. Currently, I am part of a group project focusing on climate change, specifically what behaviors can individuals do to reduce their impact of greenhouse gases on the environment. While researching I came upon this article: https://healthylandethic.com/2012/10/03/the-unbearable-ubiquitousness-of-mowing/. It discusses many of the values of leaving your lawn in a native state. Did you know that Americans use 800 million gallons of gas annually on their lawns alone (the average lawnmower emits as much greenhouse gas as FORTY cars running for just one hour?), over $5.2 billion in fertilizers that come form fossil fuels, and over $700 million in pesticides? Also, two-thirds of the drinking water consumed in the U.S. is used on lawn watering. This doesn’t even go into the damage that lawns do to our critical pollinator populations. A lush “perfect” green lawn is one of the greatest acts of unsustainability that there is.
Please forgive my rant – but these are issues of importance to me. People have often viewed my opinions as being on the outside of traditional lawn ideas. However, things are beginning to change, and individuals are showing an increased desire to preserve pollinators and their habitats (and at the same time make an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions). An encouraging sign of this has been the State of Minnesota recently passing a spending plan to assist homeowners in restoring their lawns to native habitats: http://www.startribune.com/program-pays-minnesota-homeowners-to-let-their-lawn-go-to-the-bees/510593382/?refresh=true . Full details of how the plan will be allocated are still to be determined, but grants should be available for the spring of 2020.
The Minnesota spending bill is a major step in pushing these issues out into the forefront of the public view. I am involved personally in many local and national pollinator/prairie groups and there is a great interest in the spending bill. There have been tens of thousands of hits, links, comments, and posts online since it passed earlier this week. On an interesting side note, I have received a couple dozen DMs from people I only know as an online ID asking if I have information on the program. Also, as of this morning, over 35 of my personal friends (many of who have accused me of being a bit militant on these subjects), have reached out to me as well about it.
There is still a long way to go, but it feels good on a personal level to see such a sudden burst of interest from the mainstream on a subject I’ve been involved with for a while now. And if you need my answer – option A is the way I go every time (when I’m not working on working on creating more prairie in my yard).