Steinberg clips away at the $40 billion lawn industry and reveals the far-reaching consequences that the turf fixation has had for the environment and the public's health.
Ground maintenance has been singled out by the government's Occupational Safety and Health Administration as one of the nation's more dangerous trades, rivaling the health and death risks faced by those in steel, concrete and shipbuilding.
About 75,000 Americans are injured each year using lawn mowers while tending some 58 million home lawns, 16,000 golf courses and 700,000 athletic fields in the United States. Collectively, American lawns equal a landmass the size of Florida.
While some Americans are off cutting their lawns into checkerboard perfection, Steinberg is more interested in pointing out the environmental impact of all this mowing. Using a power lawn mower for an hour spews as much polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons into the air as driving a car 93 miles. Steinberg also notes that each year gasoline and oil spills from filling and topping off mowers and other garden equipment are greater than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill off the shores of Alaska--considered one of the country's worst environmental disasters.
The quest for lawn perfection, and its negative impact on the environment and public health, Steinberg explains, was in no way inevitable. Instead, it was the product of a number of factors, not least being the actions of the lawn-care industry. Some of those companies are masters of marketing, convincing Americans that they need the perfect, manicured lawn, while simultaneously making it impossible to attain.