A lawn may be beautiful but it can take a heavy toll on the environment, accounting for between 30% and 60% of residential water use in the United States. Rob Moir, Ph.D., is president and executive director of the Ocean River Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ORI works with residential lawn owners to heal damaged ecosystems by restoring coastal areas to lessen the destructive impacts of climate change. The benefits of a natural lawn reach far beyond reduced local water pollution, eliminating chemicals that can contribute to cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and other cellular diseases. Natural lawns are also better for local pollinators and store much more carbon than heavily fertilized lawns. If you considered removing your lawn to play a part in the battle against climate change, this interview may change your mind — a healthy lawn is a powerful carbon sink.
The Ocean River Institute is recruiting Massachusetts communities, town by town, to take a pledge to follow natural lawn practices in the Healthy Soils for Climate Restoration Challenge. You don’t need to live in Massachusetts to participate and learn about the alternatives to the traditional, chemical-intensive lawn practices that use Roundup, a source of glyphosates that kills soil-dwelling fungi and local pollinators, and fast-acting nitrogen fertilizers. You can learn more about the Ocean River Institute at www.oceanriver.org.