Monday, June 10, 2013

Pesticides, Lawns and Pride

I got into a conversation the other day and almost (thankfully only almost) violated all the principles I was encouraging people toward in my recent post on Respect.

The topic was pesticides, something I feel rather strongly about. I mean really strongly about. I think the various weed and insect killers we put on our lawns are pretty horrifying things. Unhealthy, bad for the environment, poisonous.

The man I was talking to actually applies pesticides for a living. He feels strongly, too. Sparks came near to flying, but we did both manage self-control.

Here's the thing, This guy needs to feed his family, so he treats other peoples lawns. He told me that 48 hours is a good safety margin for going back on the lawn after treatment, as long things as dry. He doesn't fertilize his lawn at home at all though. He keeps pesticides out of his truck by using a trailer, wears protective clothing and gets tested for cancer every year. Apparently, the man he bought the business from is having serious health problems related to the chemicals. But the man insisted that the lawns are safe.

I disagree. Studies have shown ill effects from treated lawns. One, in 1987, showed that children who live in houses with treated lawns are 6.5 times more likely to develop leukemia than other kids.

One thing is true. This man is not the enemy.

We have a culture that values perfect lawns. Many people like theirs to look like the gorgeous pictures they see in home and garden magazines. They want to keep up with their neighbors. They want compliments. Manicured lawns are considered the epitome of outddoor beauty in many areas. I know that I am working to have a presentable, even pretty, lawn.

This drive toward maintaining beautiful lawns goes back to one thing: the deadly sin of pride. The desire to prove ourselves better than others. Many other things are rooted there, not just lawns, and it is one of the more pervasive iniquities.

But one result is pesticides, which lead to soil destruction, ill health and a host of other ills. I need to look at how my actions contribute to the overall understanding of what makes a home "beautiful." Perhaps, in order to reduce pesticide use, we as a culture need to redefine the "perfect lawn."

Somehow, we need to conquer pride. Jesus offers us a different path, if we are willing to follow.

What are your thoughts on pesticides?
How do you combat pride in your life?


  1. I think you know my thoughts on pesticides. I find it interesting that your friend does everything to protect himself and his family against the toxic effects of his job but insists that chemically treating your lawn is "safe." I understand the need to feed and provide for your family, but maybe he should find another line of work.