Organic lawns are too expensive??

Every day of every week we are continuing in this country to expose children to chemicals whose toxicity is simply not known. As a pediatrician, I urge parents to think carefully about the choice they make, especially about pesticides.
-Philip J. Landrigan, M.D.
Director of the Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Years ago I met a handful of the fine folks that work at TURI (Toxic Use Reduction Institute) that is located within the University of Massachusetts Lowell campus. They work with small businesses and towns all the time to reduce toxic chemical use here in the Bay State. Brilliant work, lovely group of people and if I wasn’t already gainfully self employed I might be inclined to see if they need someone to woman the phones and manage the office. 🙂

Back in 2009 my sleepy little town was paid a visit by TURI and decided to convert the public green spaces to organic. I could have hugged whomever made this happen! For the last two years I have enjoyed barefoot walks on the town common, summer nights stargazing on public lawns and a chemical free zone at the farmers market that runs from June to mid-October.

Then I saw this update from a recent selectman meeting:

Non-Organic Materials to be Used on Fields

One of the other agenda items discussed during the meeting was the fact that the Selectmen approved the use of non-organic materials on town fields. In 2005, the Stoneham Environmental Action Committee backed a movement to use only organic materials on town fields to promote the health and well-being of not only the grass, but that of the community.

Due to the high cost of organic materials, the Selectmen voted to use non-organic materials instead of those recommended years ago by the Action Committee.

OK, take off the hippie hat and let’s look at how much money we’ll be saving the town overall:

Oh wait, those links only show the horrible health issues associated with pesticide exposure. Hrm. Last year Grassroots Environmental Education did a side-by-side comparison on the costs of maintaining school athletic fields using chemical versus organic systems.  According to their study:

The analysis of data demonstrates that once established, a natural turf management program can result in savings of greater than 25% compared to a conventional turf management program.
-A Cost Comparison of Conventional (Chemical) Turf Management and Natural (Organic) Turf Management for School Athletic Fields written by Charles Osborne & Doug Wood, March 2010.

Dear town that I enjoy residing in, please reconsider, if not for the adults, at least for the children, this recent decision to throw away your efforts of the last couple of years!


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