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A Lawn Picture is Worth a Thousand Words


It’s an absolutely glorious day here in Maine, 65 degrees with a slight breeze wafting through the open back porch door. Moments ago, just before I snapped the photo above, I heard my daughter, Aimee, out on the lawn singing one of the songs we usually harmonize together at bedtime.

“Take me out to the ballgame,
Take me out to the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Crackerjacks,
I don’t care if I ever get back.
Let me root, root, root for the Red Sox,
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
And it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out,
At the old ball game . . .”

And as cute as that splendid moment in the grass appeared, it unfortunately got me thinking about all sorts of frustrations . . . and not just the Red Sox’s current record (7-10). Here are just a couple . . .

IT’S BEEN REALLY DIFFICULT to watch Fenway Park’s outfield this year knowing that Major League Baseball sold out to Scotts Miracle Gro in a million dollar sponsorship deal — and nobody seems to care. Well, maybe not nobody, but hardly anybody. Just this morning Tim Rhys sent me an email link to the Red Sox home page: The ad says “Get a Big League Lawn.” Tim sees the absurdity of the ad, but then again he’s on our Board of Directors.

We tried and tried to get the public to understand that this ill-conceived coupling of the largest lawn fertilizer and pesticide company and Major League Baseball was fundamentally wrong, even evil. Duping the masses into thinking they an have Fenway Park in their back yards just by dumping the contents of a bag onto their grass is false advertising at its worst. The campaign encourages people to waste resources. It implores them to imperil water. It tells us to use products that make our children and pets sick.

But most people just don’t care. Despite the efforts of many of the nation’s leading environmental groups, only 886 people have signed an online petition denouncing the Scotts Miracle Gro love fest. That’s 886 people from the 330,000,000 in North America in more than a month. Honestly, it’s a pathetic response that’s probably making Miracle Gro president Jim Hagedorn laugh on his corporate jet all the way from Long Island to Marysville (Ohio).

Take me out to the ballgame? Not me this year. As much as I love the Red Sox, I won’t step foot inside Fenway Park again as long as the Scotts banner hangs on the outfield walls.

THE SAD THING IS THAT the Scotts Miracle Gro deal with Major League Baseball is probably only the second most gut-wrenching advertising campaign on the airways right now. Even my father, who still hires TruGreen ChemLawn to poison his back yard, thinks it’s ridiculous that the company hired a cherubic 14-year-old actor as its pitchman. The kid’s real name is Noah Bryant Munck, but for the world’s largest lawn care service company he plays “Neighborhood Lawn Kid” Bobby Sinclair. “They grow it, I mow it,” he says. “Mo TruGreen means mo green for me . . . ” What a great lesson for American youth.

We’re supposed to overlook that fact that he’s not wearing any eye or ear protection, or that he’s mowing in sneakers and ankle socks. We’re supposed to think his lawn mower, painted with drag-racer flames and equipped with a bag to collect the clippings that ought to stay on the lawn, is really cool . . . dude. And apparently we’re supposed to laugh when he passes by an “ugly” lawn that hasn’t been hit with TruGreen’s chemical cocktails. “No TruGreen, no thanks,” says plump little Munck.

Is the American public really buying this rubbish? In an era when times are tight for most of us, TruGreen would have us spend money on products that make our lawns grow like baseball players on steroids so that we can pay a would-be Donald Trump even more money to mow as often as possible?

The only green TruGreen really cares about is the stuff in your wallet. Please tell me someone, anyone gets this.

Meanwhile, I’m going to back out to my organic lawn, sing a few songs, and graciously accept the 10th dandelion bouquet of the day from Aimee.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
  • Dee

    I get it. I’m so frustrated by my neighbors who treat their lawns for Scotts 4-step poison. I follow your book’s instructions for an organic lawn (and I have organic gardens).

    We live in Southern CT near the Long Island Sound, adjacent to wetlands. I try to explain that the crap they put on their lawns gets into the ground water (we have loads of underground springs around here) and poisons the Sound. They are envious of my beautiful gardens and lawn, but don’t want to put the work into pulling weeds by hand or composting.

    If the sermon was coming from my husband, they might respect it more. I’m the only wife in the neighborhood who does the lion’s share of the yard work. My husband just got a new Fiskars mower so this is the first year ever he is mowing the lawn. (It is a new toy thing.)

    He did build my raised beds and install a rain barrel system for me, so he is not a complete slacker. He just hates yard work and I love it.

    I will sign the petition now.

    Please keep writing and leading the charge. Maybe you need someone like Martha Stewart to have you on her show to get people to pay attention. I don’t watch, but a friend told me she featured the Fiskar mower on her show. She might be open to it.

  • Dee

    BTW – your daughter is adorable.

  • Glen Baumgarten

    “Take me out to the ballgame? Not me this year. As much as I love the Red Sox, I won’t step foot inside Fenway Park again as long as the Scotts banner hangs on the outfield walls.”

    Sounds like a pretty extremist statement. At least lawns are safe. Remember the Boston Beaneaters?

  • Sam Jeffries aka Garden Guys

    To your point, the most recent marketing campaign really raises the eyebrows. This four step, “greener and healthier” lawn mentality has indoctrinated countless folks. As stewards of our own landscapes, we all must thoroughly understand what the long-term ramifications of these chemical applications present before embarking on an activity that otherwise offers comparable, cost effective and safer alternatives.

  • Patsy George

    To heck with organic lawns; you should be your daughter’s modeling agent.

  • FightForKids

    It is so sad that sports fans know the scores and batting records of all their favorite players and teams and haven’t got a clue what’s happening all around them. We are like ostriches with our heads in the dirt and only talk about the superficial with our friends. We all need to wake up!

    To Glen and everyone else who thinks taking action or boycotting something for a cause you believe in as “extremist”: placing a label does not diminish the cause. It is however called “dedication” to your beliefs and ethical values. We have a backbone and vote with our wallets. We are not just talk, but action too. Ask all the children in the hospitals who have cancer from our polluted environment what “extreme” really means. When are we as parents, aunts, uncles, grandmother, and grandfathers going to start getting “extreme” about protecting our children? I will fight to the death for my children, and I will be proud to take on the “extremist” label. Join Us!

  • Alexis

    Yes! Boycott the games! Now we will seperate the REAL MEN from the WIMPS. (was going to say “Boys” but I know kids have more will power to give something up for their beliefs than adults.)

    We are not even going to watch the games -that is how serious we are about putting action to our beliefs. Consumers have the power to change corporate practices (one example: companies like Pepsi are removing High fructose corn syrup from their products because of the consumer backlash against such HFCS.) Thank you Paul for setting an example for us.

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  • Jason

    Cute daughter, but dude, you need to chill out. You’re bitching about fertilizer and grass, and trying to call out the potential safety concerns with some commercial on TV!

    Maybe you should find a better cause to champion – like how to berate people who abort their babies, or perhaps how our politicans now both you, your little girl, and probably her children with their flagrant spending. Grass growing? Really?

    Maybe you should write the RIAA about how lyrics in some music encourages violence, or the MPAA about how you don’t need to have your mind poisioned with the threat of an alien invasion. Or call McDonalds about how the double-quarter pounder they sell and people choose to eat is clogging their arteries and making them obsese. (hey, at least the lawn kid on the commercial is representative of the American population.)

    Or, maybe you could spend your time volunteering in some meaningful way, instead of bitching about problems. Be a part of the solution. Take a breath, relax, and go play with your daughter.

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