The Price of a Green Lawn

She’d been holding her own, and had a good day on Saturday. She participated in a fundraising walk for cancer in dogs, then went home and took a nap. 

Sunday found her hiding in the shower. The side of her face was swollen, and there was blood in her saliva and nasal discharge.

Monday found her at the vet’s. The cancer was in her nasal cavity. Nothing more to be done. Take her home, keep her comfortable. Chicken, mashed potatoes, ice cream.

On Tuesday, she and her guardian took the walk to the Rainbow Bridge. The vet released her at her home. She was only eight, or about 56 in dog years.

Her guardian lives in a town that carries on the tradition of Hemingway’s Oak Park, one of “broad lawns and narrow minds,” or in this case, green lawns at any cost. What’s a few companions and kids when one feels compelled to have an emerald swath unfolding from the front door to the sidewalk or road? 

It’s been said that the quest for a green lawn generates more agricultural research than any other crop. Unfortunately, it’s geared towards the “better living through chemistry” school of thought rather than encouraging homeowners to consider planting their yards with ground covers that don’t need to be spoon fed toxins to look their best. The main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, glyphosphate, has been linked to more ecological disruption than any other chemical polluter.

Other lawn chemicals have been linked to cancer in animals and humans. That’s why groundskeepers and the people who do the spraying for lawn care companies wear haz-mat suits and respirators while they work.

Two big changes need to be made: 1. if you must have a lawn, explore ecologically friendly alternatives to keep it green and 2. if you live someplace where grass wasn’t intended to grow, why are you trying to fight with nature? You can do a lot with alternatives such as xeriscaping, growing organic vegetables, alternatives to grass–you get the picture.

We have, and will continue to pay a heavy price for the damage. In addition to cancer, exposure to these toxins has been linked to neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and to autism spectrum disorders. Treatment of any of these is not cheap, nor can the cost of the heartbreak involved be calculated. Prevention is always better. 

(With love for Georgia, Gids, Toby, Walter, Stanley, and Orion)