(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2007) On April 4, 2007, at a press conference on the National Mall in Washington, DC, the New Gloucester, ME-based SafeLawns Foundation issued a challenge to Americans to convert over one million acres of grass to organic lawn care by 2010. Beyond Pesticides and the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns’ door hanger, Want A Safe Lawn for Children and Pets?, was distributed at the press conference.
The SafeLawns Foundation’s mission is to create a broad-based coalition of non- and for-profit organizations committed to educating society about the benefits of organic lawn care and gardening, and effect a quantum change in consumer and industry behavior. SafeLawns is in the process of becoming a formal non-profit and is currently operating with a board of directors consisting of Paul Tukey (Spokesman), Shepherd Ogden, (Executive Director), Todd Harrington (Harrington’s Organicare), Peter Wild (Arborjet, Inc.), Rusty Warner (Database Consultant). The effort is currently underwritten by Bradfield Organics (a division of the Ralston Purina Company), Gardener’s Supply Company, MultiBloom, and People, Places and Plants. Beyond Pesticides is currently collaborating with SafeLawns on various issues, although the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns did not speak at the Washington, DC press conference.
Components of the challenge include:
- Safe Lawns Challenge – A challenge will be issued to universities and companies across the country to end the use of synthetic lawn chemicals on their campuses and headquarters;
- Safe Lawns Environmental Partnership – States across the U.S. will be urged to eliminate lawn care pesticides at day care facilities and school grounds – following the model of a law recently adopted in Connecticut; and,
- Safe Lawns Certification Program – A nationwide realty partnership program will be launched to inform home buyers of houses that have child- and pet-safe organic lawns.
“We see the writing on the wall about the future of lawn care in North America,” said Home and Garden Television (HGTV) personality and SafeLawns Foundation spokesperson, Paul Tukey. “Americans are spreading millions of tons of toxic materials and wasting enormous amounts of fossil fuels, all in the name of having a beautiful lawn. Our mission is to show people that you can have a beautiful lawn without the toxic and wasteful side effects.”
The growing demand for organic land care is coming from all sectors: homeowners, municipal park managers, and business professionals alike. A 2005 survey of 2,000 adults by the Natural Marketing Institute found 20 percent of consumers had bought some kind of environmentally friendly lawn-and-garden product. Organic land care is also a major business opportunity for product manufacturers and businesses. According to CNN, market researchers Freedonia Group estimate a 10 percent annual growth for the organic fertilizer market, twice the projected growth for all lawn and garden goods.
“We are seeing a major interest in and shift toward organic land care as the general public learns how detrimental pesticides are to their lawn, health, and the environment,” says Eileen Gunn, project director for Beyond Pesticides.
In Canada, the market shift is happening much more rapidly due to widespread bans on the aesthetic use of pesticides and a less powerful chemical industry lobby. According to Agriculture Canada, the organic sector is a small but rapidly growing sector of the lawn and landscape industry. Canada’s non-profit trade association, Organic Landscape Alliance, reports upwards of 30% growth in business over the past year and new members are continuously joining the association.
TAKE ACTION: In response to a growing demand for organic land care, Beyond Pesticides, in conjunction with its partners in the National Coalition for Pesticide Free Lawns released a new spring lawn care factsheet emphasizing a new approach to understanding non-chemical lawn care — Read Your “Weedsï¿½” — A Simple Guide to Creating a Healthy Lawn. Get involved in promoting organic land care by distributing this factsheet in your community and to your local media outlets. You can also display our pesticide-free zone sign proudly on your lawn.