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Miss A Week, Miss a Lot in Lawn News

After a week away from the office and this blog, the longest such stretch without a post since we launched it two and a half years ago, there’s just so much to catch up with. From lawn pesticide poisonings where innocent children are harmed daily, to the perpetrators like Scotts Miracle Gro suffering a 7 percent loss of business in the United States this year, you miss a lot when you take your eye off the lawn news. Often we cringe; sometimes we can smile, like when the world’s largest purveyor of lawn poisons loses hundreds of millions of dollars in business.

And lawn stories often make us chuckle. In Framingham, Mass., for example, a man was arrested after allegedly chasing women with his lawn edger. And from the all-the-news-that’s-fit-to-print New York Times comes this riveting piece about a severed foot found on a lawn in Queens. It was a bear foot (b-e-a-r) as opposed to a bare child’s foot as was originally suspected.

Some lawn stories are not without their outright tragedies. Yesterday’s San Francisco newspaper ran this story about a 41-year-old man who drove his lawn mower into the pool and drowned to death: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/11/07/state/n062900S26.DTL. Apparently he couldn’t swim. In a gruesomely sad story, a 19-year-old toddler was killed last Friday when his grandmother ran over him with a lawn mower. She was using the machine to pull a wagon when the boy fell out and became caught up in a swirling mower blade. Why the mower blade was engaged with a child around is anyone’s guess.

I wish I could say these were isolated incidents, but death or injury from mowing is far more common than you might guess — just as poisoning by lawn pesticides and fertilizers is something that happens daily without notice. It’s collateral damage from an at-all-cost nationwide obsession with keeping-up-with-the Joneses. It’s a dangerous silence that lurks loudly in every suburban neighborhood on Saturday mornings.

And, so, energized from a week away, we’ll get back to work. We’ll keep bringing attention to the atrocity of lawn pesticide abuse, just as we celebrate the slow-but-sure movement to make our lawns, playgrounds and playing fields safer. We congratulate Kerry Bokenfohr, a mom who led a 10-year fight to have lawn chemicals banned around schools in her western Canadian town of Vernon: http://www.bclocalnews.com/community/133272348.html. We stand in spirit with our friends at the Canadian Cancer Society today as it works to move forward with a full provincial ban in British Columbia: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/872964/media-advisory-groups-ask-why-risk-unnecessary-exposure-to-cosmetic-pesticides-when-there-is-a-threat-to-health. As I headed off on vacation last week, I wore their “I Fight Cancer” T-Shirt in solidarity and must have been asked a dozen times why the American Cancer Society doesn’t take the same aggressive stance against lawn and garden products that say “Caution,” “Warning,” or “Danger” and “Keep out of the Reach of Children” on the packages.

We can’t be everywhere at once. And sometimes we can’t even be on this blog.

But thanks for all the many notes of concern. We’re back, we’re fine and we’re more ready than ever to keeping leading the charge.

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.

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