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Sun, Feb 28 2010

"Green" Is So Yesterday

What Marty K offers for the future.

By Justin Galicic - Chief of Landcare


Grass. It's an outdoor carpet. Itʼs refreshing to the eye and fun to play on. It produces oxygen, so it must be good, right? Well, good or not, Americans are addicted to their large flat lawns. Turfgrass in the U.S. covers 72,000 square miles -- an area larger than the state of Washington. Eight hundred million gallons of gasoline are used each year (5% of our total gas consumption) to keep all that grass nice and short. Maintaining an acre of lawn with a gas-powered mower produces 400 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year. In addition, the pesticides and fertilizers used to keep grass looking good are detrimental to our local waterways. Can this continue forever? Perhaps it is time we start thinking outside the blade.


At MartyK, we enjoy toying around with new, out of the blue, and sometimes absurd ideas such as eradicating an entire nation of turfgrass. There are low-growing grass-like plants, such as Carex pansa, that don't require mowing, are evergreen, and only grow a few inches high. C. pansa is drought tolerant and you can still play on it. Is this the future? It might be. We don't know. What we do know is that our future is going to be spent in the same environment that's becoming increasingly polluted each day.


Most large businesses have their "green checklist" touting their path toward environmental sustainability. They might buy green credits to offset their green deficits or erect wind farms to blow away their carbon footprints. While this "green revolution" in recent years has been a positive thing, we want to take the green game much farther. We review every chemical we use to ensure it will not harm local wildlife. If it needs to be disposed of in a special way, it's not in our garden sprayer. We seek out methods of old that were used before modern chemicals were a way of life. We solve problems by working with forces of nature; not against them.


We are committed to a high level of environmental awareness. Parkinsonʼs disease is projected to affect 80 percent more Americans in the next 20 years, and still no one is 100% sure of the cause. Cancers have been on the rise faster than overall population growth. Salmon runs on the West Coast are in decline. Honey bee populations around the country are currently half of what they were in 2003. These trends need to be reversed. In 100 years, we want our great grandchildren to be able to enjoy the pleasures of life that we know and love today.


Can a single company initiate this change? We wouldn't be here if we didn't think we could.


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