One of HowToOrganics.com favorite phrases is “sustainability begins at home.” Catastrophic global climate change is the end result of the unsustainable treatment of the environment, which also begins at home. Expert research indicates that lawn care contributes to global climate change in numerous ways, we’ll examine three today: fertilizer manufacturing, lawn mowing, and chemical fertilizers. If we’re truly going to begin to undo the damage humans have done to our shared planet, understanding these three contributing factors is vitally important.
Mowing America’s 40 million lawns takes work. In this case, the “work” is being done by harmful fossil fuels, which release a tremendous amount of carbon into our atmosphere. Many Americans mow their yards weekly, or more than weekly, during the rainy months. This is not only bad for your lawn, it’s bad for the earth.
Organic lawns, by contrast, are mowed less frequently. This is a key cultural practice in acquiring a lush, weed-free lawn without the use of harmful chemicals (which we’ll discuss later). Simply by mowing less frequently, organic lawncare owners see a huge reduction in gas use – which is good for their wallet and the atmosphere.
Yale University has estimated that lawn owners in the United States use more than 600 million gallons of gas each year to mow and trim their lawns. That’s about two gallons of gas for every man, woman, and child – or five gallons per household. Mowers also consume engine oil in their crankcases, and two-stroke mowers consume oil in their fuel.
If Americans could reduce their lawn mowing by about 30 percent, the carbon footprint left behind from mowing (remember: 200 million gallons of gas) would be significantly reduced.
Chemical fertilizers use synthetic nitrogen as a key ingredient. But creating this synthetic knock-off requires an incredibly damaging process to take place: Natural gas must be heated to combine atmospheric nitrogen with hydrogen to produce ammonia. You might be shocked to hear that the amount of natural gas required to make about 200 bags of lawn fertilizer could heat your home for a year.
Additionally, each 40-pound bag of synthetic fertilizer contains the fossil-fuel equivalent of approximately 2.5 gallons of gasoline. Transporting these bags of fertilizer from the factory to your home requires additional fuel.
Duke University reports that Americans put 3 million tons of synthetic fertilizer into their lawns each year. 75,000 gallons of fossil fuels are volatilized in the manufacturing process alone.
What’s worse, these chemical, dangerous fertilizers don’t just sit in the ground… they are literally running into the oceans. 3 million tons of synthetic fertilizers are applied to lawns each year. They are damaging one of the world’s major consumers of atmospheric carbon – our oceans. Oceans are incredibly valuable in their reduction of carbon in our atmosphere. About 26 percent of all the carbon release as CO2 between 2002 and 2011 was absorbed by the ocean.
There is a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. This dead zone (technically “hypoxic zone,” meaning “little oxygen”) forms every summer, and is the size of Minnesota. We’ve identified at least one culprit for this dead zone: excess nutrients entering the Gulf from runoff of home lawns. A dead zone does not consume carbon the way that other unpolluted oceans do. Oceans were far more efficient at absorbing CO2 before the Industrial Revolution than they are now. We’re literally damaging one of our best aides in the fight against global climate change.
Organic lawn care is a sustainable, cost-efficient alternative to the damaging processes by which we’ve been caring for our lawns. Consider what would happen if America converted its 40 million acres of chemically treated lawns to organic lawn care methods. The amount of carbon released by lawn mowers across the country would be significantly reduced, the 75,000 gallons of natural gas burned during synthetic fertilizer manufacturing would vanish, and our waterways would be free of the 3 million tons of synthetic fertilizer currently poisoning them.
The HowToOrganics.com team of experts is here to educate Americans about synthetic, chemical lawn care, which is a dangerous and unnecessary form of pollution. Eco-friendly products and practices are cost-effective and produce amazing results. HowToOrganics.com is here to aid you in selecting and using oragnic solutions to care for your lawn.
If the care of our earth beings at home, don’t you want your home to join the fight?
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