Reasons Why Organic Gardening Is Best For All Of Us
Credit Where Credit Is Due
In 1962 an American marine biologist and conservationist, Rachel Carson, published a book called “Silent Spring.” Although fiercely opposed by chemical companies and branded as heresy by many, “Silent Spring” led to a reversal in our national pesticide policy, let to a ban on DDT, and essentially began an environmental movement which led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
I read Ms. Carson’s book when I was a junior in college in 1969. Was I disturbed by its claims? Most definitely! Was I moved to action? No!
There was no doubt in my mind that what Carson wrote about was true. It was infinitely logical. Still, like many other Americans, I went about my life fertilizing my lawn, killing bugs with sprays, and generally gardening with a rather casual disdain for the damage I was doing to the environment. I told myself that I was a busy man and sprays were much simpler. It was a matter of convenience for me, and if the earth was harmed so that my life could be more convenient then so be it. What difference does one person make after all? How much damage could I be making, really?
About fifteen years ago I came to my senses and began adoption environmentally safe methods of dealing with my gardening tasks. I am a proud member of the Green Revolution today, and although I cannot undo the damage I did many years ago, I can make sure I do not add to that damage today.
Organic gardening is the only socially responsible approach that can be taken for those of you who love to turn the soil and care for seedlings. It is my hope that after you read this article you will properly dispose of your sprays and commercial fertilizers and join me in helping Mother Nature.
Will you follow me? Let me give you three reasons why organic gardening really is the only sane approach one can take.
Do I really have to teach you about ecosystems? Maybe just a little reminder will help.
Chemicals wash into the local waterways and create havoc on marine life. Pesticides lead to colony collapse disorder, completely wiping out species of insects and further straining the delicate natural balance. One key ingredient in lawn and garden chemicals is oil. Is there any rational person who believes that spraying oil on a plant or lawn is a good practice?
Of the thirty most common pesticides used today, nineteen of them are carcinogenic, twenty-one havi negative effects on reproductions, thirteen are linked to birth defects, twenty-six cause kidney or liver damage, and at least eleven cause hormonal disruption. They have also been found to increase miscarriage rates, increase a child’s risk of developing asthma, and have been shown to pass from a mother to child via both the umbilical cord and breast milk.
Last year in the United States, farmers released 57 million pounds of glyphosate on the environment by way of sprays and fertilizers. Because glyphosate is systemic, it works its way into the plant and eventually into the fruit and produce that we eat.
The Cost to Your Pocketbook
If you are a gardener then you know that chemicals are expensive. You buy a pump sprayer; you buy the herbicides; you buy the fertilizers; all cost you money that does not need to be spent.
I can kill weeds in my driveway by pouring boiling water on them. The cost? Practically nothing! I can make my own compost for no cost at all, or I can spend my hard-earned money buying fertilizers. In fact, give me five minutes and I can find, online, fifty alternative methods to dealing with fertilizing and spraying that will not harm the environment, me or my bank account.
Information is power
- Why Organic Foods Cost More
Why is it that "healthy" costs customers more than "unhealthy"? Let's take a look at some of the factors that drive organic food prices up.
And a Bonus Fourth Reason
This really is the one that means the most. You should practice organic gardening because it is the right thing to do. No responsible citizen purposely does damage to the environment. No sane person purposely does damage to themselves. In a world becoming more fragile daily, can there be any justification for practicing unsafe and harmful gardening techniques? The answer, clearly, is no!
A Quick Outline of Proposed Steps to Be Taken
Each of these suggestions will require a separate article, so for now I’m simply going to give you a brief outline as a plan of attack.
- Conserve water in the garden
- Reduce garden chemicals to protect our water
- Landscape to prevent eroding soil and to control runoff
- Practice composting using waste
- Consume less energy with proper landscaping
- Protect ecosystems and habitats, and make your garden supportive to other habitats
Going One Step Further
Practicing organic gardening is a huge first step, but our efforts must not stop there. These are serious times in the United States. Our farming industry is now controlled by huge agribusinesses whose sole purpose is to produce as much product as possible by whatever means, regardless of what damage might be done.
Yes you can help by practicing organic gardening, but there is so much more you can do. Here are a few suggestions:
- Buy organic meat and produce at the grocery store. Yes it will cost you more but really, what is the price for your family’s health?
- Request that local nurseries carry eco-friendly products.
- Encourage your community leaders to make community gardens on unused land.
- Educate your neighbors. Chat with them and tell them the efforts you are taking to be a more responsible gardener and citizen.
- Ask your neighbors to share their compostable yard waste with you.
- Start a tree planting campaign in your community.
- Volunteer at local parks and work with them to practice eco-friendly management.
- Get involved politically. Organize and lobby for safer farming and gardening practices.
- Educate your children and get them involved in safer gardening techniques.
So what do you think? Are you willing to give organic gardening a try?
Some Final Thoughts
Can one person make a difference in this world? I would submit to you that Rachel Carson certainly did. Of course, not all of us will have that type of impact, but we can most definitely add positives where positives are needed.
The writer of this article lives in a rather remarkable city, Olympia, Washington. Here organic gardening and farming are encouraged. The local government supports eco-friendly activities. Community gardens can be found in a great number of neighborhoods. Schools teach about organic gardening and local organizations are earth-conscious and make every attempt to sell earth-friendly products.
This kind of civic responsibility did not suddenly ignite without kindling. Individual citizens who were concerned began taking small steps, and those small steps gained momentum. One person here, talking to one person there, and suddenly a group of people working together to affect much-needed change.
If it can happen in Olympia it can happen in your town or city. Perhaps you will be the catalyst in the weeks and months to come. If so, allow me to thank you now for the work you will be doing soon.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Making a difference one person at a time.”