What’s more organic than a lush green lawn? Well, thanks to the synthetic fertilizers and secret formula weed-killers regularly dumped on lawns across the country, a lot of things. Nature already provides everything we need to make our lawns beautiful. So why does the Environmental Protection Agency estimate that cumulatively, U.S. households dump nearly 90 million pounds of herbicides and pesticides on their lawns every year, mostly made up of mystery chemicals?
The conventional lawn care industry has convinced thousands of homeowners that the only way to get gorgeous grass is to apply synthetic fertilizer three or four times a season. Not only is that a little excessive, it’s also usually more harm to the environment than it is good. You (and your neighbors) will be surprised to discover that you can have a thick, lush swath of green without toxic treatments. You’ve already gone organic in the kitchen with your milk and your produce… why not try it in the yard? Consider these benefits…
Synthetic fertilizers and combination fertilizer-herbicides are chemically processed into a concentrated, water-soluble feed that are available to plants immediately. But when there is more than the grass can take up, the excess washes out of the root zone and into our watersheds. Every summer in the Gulf of Mexico, an area roughly the size of Connecticut is choked with vast algae and phytoplankton blooms, due in part to the tons of fertilizer runoff from the Mississippi River. As the algae dies and decomposes, it uses up water’s oxygen, making the area uninhabitable for sea life. The source of the pollution is so widespread that several continental states and Canadian provinces have imposed bans on phosphorous fertilizers.
The environment is the only thing that can suffer from a synthetic lawn care products. One of the most common herbicides in weed and feed products, a chemical called 2,4-D, has been linked to human health problems, including an increased risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease and childhood leukemia. Moreover, manufacturers are not legally required to disclose their products’ inert ingredients which can include harmful quantities of heavy metals. Inert ingredients in a lawn chemical will not kill your weeds but there is no guarantee that they will be nontoxic to you or your pets.
Herbicides and pesticides from lawns get into our direct water supply along with our oceans. A study of 12 urban streams in one metro area found 2,4-D in every stream and 23 different types of pesticides, including five in concentrations high enough to kill aquatic life. Of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides, 16 pose serious hazards to birds, 24 are toxic to fish and aquatic organisms and 11 have adverse effects on bees, nature’s little fertilizers!