A new perspective on nature’s needs

We don’t need lush, immaculate lawns – when it means more greenhouse and toxic gases in the atmosphere and growing menace to life on earth.

Sherrie Versluis Feathered Friends
Sherrie Versluis
Feathered Friends

The health of the environment is a hot topic throughout the world. Climate change is a leading concern with scientists and environmentalists. There are many other areas of concern like pollution of our air and lakes, deforestation, drought and the effects all of these combined problems on songbirds and beneficial insects.

Many people are concerned but don’t know how they can help or take the time to research what they can do to make a difference. Let 2017 be the year that you make some small changes and efforts to aid in the cause for a healthier planet.

Say No to grass

Life in the suburbs has truly changed over the past 20 years. Bigger houses, bigger garages and bigger lawns. The competition for the finest looking lawn has a real negative impact on the environment. A typical 3.5 horsepower gas lawnmower emits nearly 48 kilograms of greenhouse gas per season. In fact, one hour of usage of an older lawn mower is comparable to driving a new, efficient car 550 kilometres or to 40 new vehicles sitting idling for one hour. It is estimated that 56 million people in North America mow their lawns each weekend using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons and tons of air pollutants.

The mission to produce the perfect lawn also increases the need for chemicals. Whether it’s synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or chemical weed killers, the use of the chemicals has long-lasting effects. Some of the active ingredients in these products are harmful to our own health, and even more so to wildlife and beneficial insects like bees and earthworms. In fact, some products are directly linked to the crash in population of monarch butterflies and honey bees.

If you can't say No to grass, at least invest in a push mower.
If you can’t say No to grass, at least invest in a push mower.

There are solutions:

  • Change to a solar or electric powered lawnmower
  • Use pickling vinegar for weed control on the lawn
  • Use non-toxic fertilizers like manure
  • Give up on grass and turn your lawn into a native wildflower garden
Think globally, plant a garden - and bring it truly to life with birds, butterflies and bees.
Think globally, plant a garden – and bring it truly to life with birds, butterflies and bees.

The wildflower garden will provide you with non-stop blooming flowers all season and you can plant beautiful native grasses as well. Once established, these perennial gardens are virtually maintenance free and will give you much enjoyment, not just from the beauty of the plants but also the life they bring in the way of birds, butterflies and bees. Now that’s a way to show up your neighbour!

Hug a tree

Deforestation across the planet has affected our climate and air quality. Think of that moment when you go into a forest; you take a deep breath and smell its glorious fragrance. It’s called forest bathing. Our lungs just soak up that concentrated pure clean air which benefits our immune system and our whole being.

We are very lucky to live so close to the precious northern boreal forest which is sacred to the health of the entire planet. In 2007, 1,500 scientists around the world signed a statement declaring the importance of the boreal forest. It is an ecosystem that can never, ever be replaced with monoculture and its demise would make the air of this planet too toxic to exist in.

Do your own research on the importance of this declaration, and take the time to write your MP about your concerns about the protection of this sacred forest. It is estimated that if each person on the planet planted one native tree per year for six years, climate change could be totally corrected. Consider planting a native shrub or tree in your yard and bathe in the joy of your efforts.

The basics

There are many everyday efforts we can make that add up to big benefits to the earth. Recycling – are you making the effort? I see many homes on garbage day that never have their blue box out though their garbage bin is overfilled. Make it a way of life to be conscious of what’s really garbage and what’s not.

Going for groceries? Remember those reusable bags and avoid plastic. Plant a garden each summer, even if it’s just a small one. Enjoy growing some of your own food and support markets for locally grown food.

Most importantly, take the time to enjoy nature. Go for a walk through our beautiful, forested parks or river walkways. Bathe yourself in the glory of nature, not only to benefit your health and reduce stress but to remind yourself that the earth is a beautiful thing.

The earth’s population has reached over 7.5 billion people; that’s a very heavy load. We must stop taking it for granted that all of this will always be there and that someone else will fix it. Make 2017 the year you start giving back to Mother Earth and reconnect with nature for the health of your body, mind and spirit. Wishing you all a wonderful year!

Sherrie Versluis owns The Preferred Perch on St. Mary’s Road in St. Vital, phone 204-257-3724.

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