The following statistics are taken from the July/August 2006 issue of "Health" magazine.
800 Millions of gallons of gas used each year by lawnmowers.
11 Number of new cars it takes to create the same amount of pollution that one lawn mower makes in an hour.
11 Millions of gallons of crude oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez in the largest oil spill in history.
17 Millions of gallons of fuel spilled each year while filling lawn mowers, tractors, and the like.
Now I will grant that these numbers are not cross-referenced and not very specific either. It is likely, however, that they are from our good old U.S. of A.
What bothers me about these numbers? The noise of lawnmowers in my small community, where it seems someone is mowing nearly every day, has caused me to start thinking about a natural, no-mow lawn. (We are renters, so this is a moot question until we purchase a home.) My idea is to plant native species that don't get very tall and are pretty to look at. Who came up with this notion of neatly mowed grass anyway? What's wrong with white clover, for instance?
So far, the only impediment I can think of to this plan is bugs, specifically ticks. I'll have to do some more thinking about that one. Of course, the people who make lawn tractors would also hate this idea.
I remember as a child the joy of rolling in clover; it is very soft and pleasantly aromatic. This would reduce human-hours of labor spent on lawn care as well as fuel consumption and resulting noise pollution, air pollution, and ground water pollution caused by spills. This would bring the hyperactive modern American one step closer to spending quality time with family, self-improvement, or some calming practice like exercise or meditation.
It would also help us to appreciate the diversity in small things. The number of tiny gems of blooming wildflowers that I find when I go hiking always amazes me. These lovely specimens could be interspersed throughout the lawn, a lesson in the beauty of small things and the value of diversity. After all, that's just what white-bread America needs: a lesson in accepting small differences in people like gender, sexual preference, skin color, ethnic background, opinion, relgious belief, and moral creed.
Am I reading too much into a lawn care question? Maybe. But I don't think so.