In a 2003 study, the National Gardening Association found that US consumers spent a total of $38.4 billion on their lawns and gardens. The study also revealed that eight out of ten (84 million) US households engaged in one or more categories of do-it-yourself lawn and garden activities.
The lushness of these personal landscapes, however, have an environmental cost. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), American homeowners use 10 times more pesticides per acre than American farmers.
The Environmental Working Group found agricultural weed killers—including atrazine, cyanazine, metolachlor, and acetochlor—in the tap water of 28 of the 29 cities tested. In 13 cities, average levels of weed killers in the tap water exceeded federal standards.
Related health issues
Studies link organophosphates, a common class of agricultural pesticides, to cancer, fetal abnormalities, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Parkinson's disease. Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have a five to nine times higher likelihood of having pesticide residues in their blood than those who don't have breast cancer. One study in California found that infants exposed to herbicides before the age of one are 10 times more likely to develop early persistent asthma.
A 1999 study by the Consumers Union reported that produce sold to American consumers "contains toxic pesticide levels high enough to be dangerous for young children." Infants, young children, and developing fetuses can't easily detoxify the majority of pesticides, and are especially susceptible to neurotoxins, since brain and nervous system growth continues until children are about 12 years old.
- organophosphates: Pesticides (such as malathion) that are phosphorus-containing organic compounds.
- Organic Gardening magazine
- People, Places & Plants magazine
- People-Centered Development Forum - Donella Meadows' The Global Citizen: Why Bother With Organic Flowers?
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Landscaping with Native Plants Read a 28-page online guide to natural landscaping.
- Toronto Master Gardeners - The Organic Flower Garden
- Organic Land Care Read the Northeast Organic Farming Association's brochure and FAQ on organic landscaping.
- United States Department of Agriculture - Cooperative Extension System Offices Contact your local Cooperative Extension Office for gardening help and advice.
- The Dirt Doctor - Acceptable/Unacceptable Products Check out the Texas Organic Research Center's recommendations for soil amendments, fertilizers, and pest controls.
- United States Department of Agriculture - Organic Gardening: A Guide to Resources Read a short history of organic gardening and reference a comprehensive list of organic gardening resources.
- National Gardening Association - Press Release: NGA Announces Lawn & Garden Market Statistics for 2003
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Wild Ones handbook
- The Environmental Working Group - Weed Killers by the Glass
- Medical News Today - Organic foods in relation to nutrition and health key facts
- Out Stolen Future - Early Life Environmental Risk Factors for Asthma: Findings from the Children's Health Study
- Sustainable Enterprises - What's so important about Organic?
- Mindfully.org - Why Food Safety Will Continue Driving Growth in Demand for Organic Food