Lawns as a Virus Symptomatic of Consumer Culture


“. . . every society that grows extensive lawns could produce all its food on the same area, using the same resources, and . . . world famine could be totally relieved if we devoted the same resources of lawn culture to food culture in poor areas. These facts are before us. Thus, we can look at lawns, like double garages and large guard dogs, [and Humvees and SUVs] as a badge of willful waste, conspicuous consumption, and lack of care for the earth or its people.

Most lawns are purely cosmetic in function. Thus, affluent societies have, all unnoticed, developed an agriculture which produces a polluted waste product, in the presence of famine and erosion elsewhere, and the threat of water shortages at home.

The lawn has become the curse of modern town landscapes as sugar cane is the curse of the lowland coastal tropics, and cattle the curse of the semi-arid and arid rangelands.

It is past time to tax lawns (or any wasteful consumption), and to devote that tax to third world relief. I would suggest a tax of $5 per square metre for both public and private lawns, updated annually, until all but useful lawns are eliminated.”

Bill Mollison, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual

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Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

3 thoughts on “Lawns as a Virus Symptomatic of Consumer Culture”

  1. I love this post for several reasons: one, its take on lawns and other forms of wasteful consumption are completely true. Two, the solutions proposed are far-reaching and logical. Three, it provides a great reason to not mow the lawn.

    1. the
      greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even
      if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this,
      there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who
      have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who
      produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”

  2. Permaculture’s solutions often tend to be far-reaching and logical—if and when they are applied. One book I’ve got is called “Food Not Lawns.” (Part of the same anarchic and hopeful vision that inspired “Food Not Bombs”).
    Lawns really are a complete waste in every sense of the term. Considering that the same space could be used for growing food instead of a completely functionless, water guzzling piece of turf. Just like SUVs are completely functionless oil guzzling pieces of status symbols (unless you happen to ford rivers and drive across rocky desolate outbacks).

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