Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Keep your chemicals to yourself, thank you!

The weather has been warm, the sky clear, and I've been sneaking in an afternoon walk here and there to take advantage. Sounds lovely, right? 

I thought so until late last week, I set out on my short afternoon stroll. I got as far as 2 blocks from my house and noticed the sound of what I thought was a leaf blower. You know the noise. Mwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Mwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

As I approached the noise, walking innocently along the sidewalk, I stumbled right into the perpetrator. This was no leaf blower, it was some kind of chemical spray. How do I know?
  1. In the 90 degree heat, the dude was wearing long sleeves, long pants, AND a gas/chemical mask!
  2. Before he saw me (view of me was blocked by a wood fence), his sprayer was aimed in my direction and I COULD FEEL THE LIQUID HIT MY LEGS. 
OMG, OMG, OM freaking G! Blah. I was totally creeped out, turned around, ran home, and scrubbed my legs. If the guy is wearing a gas/chemical mask, that crap can certainly leach in through my skin, right? Anyone know what this is he was spraying? 

Days later, I'm still shuddering at the thought. What makes us think spraying our lawns like this is good? Is it worth poisoning ourselves for a pretty lawn? Excuse me, I'm going to go scrub down again and eat something organic...

15 comments:

Michelle @ Leaving Excess said...

I am with you on this one, Heather! A few of our neighbors use a lawn service that sprays chemicals and you can smell it all day long. They are at work, but our kids are home with me (until recently, now with my husband) and I HATE it! It is usually windy around here, so that stuff travels. One of our other neighbors is a chemist and he covers himself head to toe to use even the smallest amount of week killer.

Jen said...

Wow... that is scary!

We don't have a very big yard, but wanted to plant a few edible plants. There is a narrow strip of land between our back sidewalk that leads to the garage, and our fence with the neighbor. We decided this would be a good spot for strawberries, rhubarb and pepper plants in the summer. Then, we were taking a neighborhood walk, and spotted the miniscule sign in his front yard from a lawn service that sprayed chemicals. Yikes! Now we have to move our edible plants away from his lawn and into a different part of ours which has never been treated.

Ugh! WHY do people waste their money on toxic chemicals??

Chile said...

Oh yikes! Our last dog was very sensitive to chemicals. If the neighbors sprayed for bugs, she'd get sick. We learned to keep a sharp eye out when walking so we could go another direction if we saw anyone with a sprayer.

Did you get a rash on your leg? Are you feeling okay?

Lisa Sharp said...

I would have freaked out as well. My neighbors spray for bugs all the time and the smell makes me so sick. We use natural bug sprays which smell good. One of them has orange oil in it so our yard just smells like oranges. :) Also no need for mask when spraying it.

Seraphim said...

Wow, that really is a bit scary. People aren't quite so lawn crazed over here, but we've heard tales of how it is over in the U.S. with your 'lawn pride' :) Seriously worrying though.... drink plenty of water, give yourself a good flush inside and out!

fearlesschef said...

Oh ho ho! I would have most certainly freaked out! I was going to plant some herbs on the Southside of our house until I realized that that spot will have to go to waste due to my neighbors copious use of chemicals. Worries me then that the runoff is making it to my yard! Blech!

Heather @ SGF said...

Michelle - lt's definitely nasty stuff. I guess the good news is I'm bug-free :)

Jen - That stinks. Thankfully, we have a big enough yard that we have space for plants away from every one else's yard. I hope you find a new space for your fruits and veggies...

Chile - no rash, although I have skin of steel. My sister has serious skin problems, but I have always been able to use whatever and my skin doesn't get irritated. As far as I can tell, the only ramification was the ik-factor. Blah! I have a friend at the market who's daughter is allergic to pesticides. I can't imagine how she stays away from it. Must be a nightmare.

Lisa - Ooh! That sounds nice. What is it called?

Sera - We are a little lawn-crazy here. I don't get it. I've been eating my normal diet of lots of organic fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and lots of water. Hopefully it got flushed right back out, but man, how creepy. Ew.

fearlesschef - seems to be a recurring problem. I've heard that organic farmers who try to get certified, but have neighbors who use chemicals are often denied certification. We can only do so much, the rest of the population has to pitch in and help at some point too.

Angela said...

Oh, I am so sorry. That actually makes me so mad. I can't believe how clueless and inconsiderate people can be.

Personally even leaf blowers make me mad, because it's noise pollution. but the chemical spray is worse.

I think washing and eating organic food is a good idea. Maybe you should try to find out what the chemical was and if there's anything more you can do.

This is obviously something that will eventually be banned but we have to wait until enough clueless people wake up to understand why.

I hope you can enjoy your next walk in your own neighborhood.

Darren (Green Change) said...

Surely there must be some kind of law that these people need to keep their chemicals on their own properties and control wind-drift, runoff, overspray, etc?

Can you complain to your local council or EPA or something?

Holly said...

that is so gross. i don't live far from you heather and we owned our last home for eight years with a large yard and never sprayed the yard for anything. and my yard looked great. even my neighbor told me i made her yard look like crap. she was a really nice one. even in our new house which has new sod we haven't sprayed anything and don't plan too. i don't get it. i don't think you have to spray anything for a nice yard. or bug control. we use an all natural product which is non-toxic for mosquitoes, etc and even it's not a spray.

Heather @ SGF said...

Angela - The sprayer guy didn't do it on purpose. I was on the sidewalk, but hidden by the tall fence and I just ended up walking past in the wrong place at the wrong time, but still. Spraying like that, is it really necessary? I suppose 15 years ago, I wouldn't have thought much about it either. I'm trying to chalk it up to people just not knowing and we can only change our behavior when we become aware of the consequences. I'm pretty grossed out, but I can't help but think of the two little kids that play in that yard...

Darren - The sprayer was definitely on his property (I was walking down his sidewalk). He just happened to be spraying my way when I came past the fence (he didn't see me until it was too late). I suppose I could complain, but people here are pretty lawn-crazy and I doubt I'd have any support.

Holly - Wow! That's great that your lawn actually looked better without the chemicals. Ours certainly isn't prize worthy (like our next door neighbor who mows twice a week). We do still use a gas mower although we're looking at getting a reel mower. That'll really throw the neighbors for a loop :) I suppose that's reason enough to get a reel mower.

littleecofootprints said...

What an awful experience! Really- what right does someone else have to spray their chemicals everywhere (I know they have all the right in reality - but its just not right!).

My sister lived next to a farm and on a number of occasions the farmer sprayed chemicals metres from where she lived without warning. There was nothing she could do to stop him.

Heather @ SGF said...

littleecofootprints - it just goes to show us that we're never truly independent. Our choices affect others even when we don't realize it. All the more reason to try to do the right thing.

Stephanie - Green SAHM said...

Yuck! Makes me glad that my landlord's yard guys are pretty lax and don't use any chemicals.

Heather @ SGF said...

Stephanie - That's lucky! I would expect landlords to not care and just spread chemicals because it's easy and cheap.