While it’s certainly a benefit to have lawn spaces to relax and play on at our homes and recreational areas, most lawns are far larger than what we actually use or need. The conventionally managed, monoculture grass lawn is unsustainable. It lacks the biodiversity needed to sustain our dwindling pollinators and other important wildlife. It also drains natural resources while polluting our soil, air, and water.
There is now an estimated total of more than 63,000 square miles of lawn in America. That’s about the size of Texas.
Turf grass is considered to be the single largest irrigated crop in America. Lawns, including residential and commercial lawns, golf courses and more, cover an area three times larger than any irrigated crop in the U.S.
Conventionally maintained lawns use up to 200 gallons of fresh, usually drinking-quality water per person per day to stay green.
Gas powered lawn and garden equipment accounts for a major portion of US nonroad gasoline emissions.
A gasoline powered lawnmower operated for one hour produces as much smog forming hydrocarbons as driving a car between 100 and 200 miles.
A gas powered leaf blower with two-stroke engine generates the same emissions in one hour as an automobile does driving 350 miles.
Adverse health effects from gas powered lawn and garden equipment emissions are well known.
Benzene, 1,3 butadiene, and formaldehyde are listed among the four top ranking cancer-causing compounds. They cause lymphomas, leukemias, and other types of cancer.
Ground level ozone (formed by VOCs and NOx in the presence of sunlight) and fine PM cause or contribute to early death, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer.
Growing evidence suggests these pollutants also contribute to developmental and neurological disorders, including autism and ADHD. Especially concerning is the mounting evidence on the dangers of short term exposure.
Suburban lawns and gardens receive more pesticide applications per acre than agriculture on average.
Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 13 are probable or possible carcinogens, 13 arelinked 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. Of these 30, 17 are detected in groundwater, and 23 have the potential to leach.
Studies show low levels of exposure to actual lawn pesticide products are linked to increased rates of miscarriage, and suppression of the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems.