[The American Years]

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Your lawn is not green

American are viewed by the rest of the world as selfish and wasteful. And they're at least partly right.

Today's example? Your lawn. (And... yes, mine too.)

Nations would (and have) killed for the fertile, arid soil that we have all around our houses, where we grow grass. It's a lovely crop.

It requires fertilizer, water, care. All of which are of value. (And you should see the people who water the sidewald with their sprinklers.)

The mower takes gas. It then pollutes the air.

And why? What's the payback to that cost?

We get some nice grass to play around in. Play catch, toss the pigskin. The kids can run and play outside... what else?

From what I've seen around my neighborhood, the only traffic most lawns get are from the lawnmowers. So it seems like the purpose for lawns is mostly for looking at. Mostly ornamental.

Mostly for ... vanity? Is that really why we have lawns? to serve our vanity? It's hard to argue otherwise.

If each community had a park nearby with the space for running and playing, that would seem to be enough, right? Most of us do have that, and in addition we have brought a mini-park here to each of our homes.

And get this. Here's what I realized recently. The reason there isn't better mass-transportation in the US? Economics. Our population is so spread out that the systems to get people moving in and out and around the 'burbs are cost-prohibitive.

And why are our populations spread out? Why is our population density so low? Blame your lawn (and my lawn too). Blame your vanity (and mine too). All that space between houses like we have in the US doesn't exist in other countries.

Let's plant a doggone tomato plant or something. At least a little nod towards effective use of our land. A little step towards admitting that we're blessed with amazing resources, more than we know what to do with. A little step towards making our yards truly green.

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