‘Your Lethal Lawn’ . . . Men’s Health Magazine Tackles Issue Head On
Some days we wonder if we’re beating our head against the proverbial wall in trying to get our message out . . . but not lately. In quite possibly the most extraordinary article ever published by a major U.S. magazine about the state of the lawn chemical debate in the U.S., Men’s Health joined the growing list of publications that have published articles about the subject — in just this month: http://www.menshealth.com/men/health/other-diseases-ailments/lawn-chemical-hazards/article/7f5edd96ed998210vgnvcm10000030281eac/4. Readers Digest and Prevention magazines also published information about organic lawn care in their June issues. Those are the third- and 15th-ranked magazines in the United States in total circulation.
We spoke with all three of these publications several months ago, providing them with leads, links and scores of other information. The resulting Prevention piece is fairly short, focusing primarily on natural fertilizers. Readers Digest offered four pages of facts and figures, but it was the Men’s Health piece that pulled no punches. Titling its article ‘Your Lethal Lawn,” the publication showed balance, but its scale was clearly tipped in the direction of better safe than sorry.
The sub-headline of the article by Bryan Smith reads: “In springtime, a man’s dreams turn to an expanse of weedless, bug-free, manicured grass surrounding his suburban castle. A multibillion-dollar industry caters to this dream, offering a calibrated poisoning that keeps his world lush yet silently threatens his family, his pets … And him. Is it worth the risk?”
The writer does speak to folks from Scotts Miracle Gro and The Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, who trot out their party line that the EPA approves these products, therefore they are safe. Much of the article, however, focuses on doctors, scientists and concerned homeowners who reach a rather unanimous conclusion that says, “No, these chemical products are not worth the risk.”
Judging from the postings on some chemical industry blogs, the reaction to the Men’s Health piece is predictable. I’m called an “organotard” by one ranter from Tiverton, R.I., on LawnSite.com. He had many other choice words for me as well: “One day however he was suffering nausea and vomiting, his doctor told him if he continued to use pesticides he would be dead in a year. Unfortunatlly (sic) he listened to his doctor and now writes organic lawn care books for a living.”
Good stuff, isn’t it? Read those lines again, this time aloud. What you’ll actually hear when you do is the same thing the chemical industry hears when they read all these articles in major magazines . . . It’s the sound of their market share shrinking.
What I see in these magazines, most of all, are tools. I receive dozens of phone calls and emails daily from folks who want to know what to do in their own communities, in their own neighborhoods, to effect change. The June issues of these trusted publications, with more than 20 million copies in circulation among them, need to be passed around to your legislators, mayors and town managers. Slip a copy onto the stoop of that neighbor who refuses to stop spraying poisons that drift onto your lawn. Send the link to this blog post to everyone you know who might care about this issue.
The market is shifting, but we still need to help it along.