I wonder if there are any Americans left who think corporate branding is attractive or even interesting?
Yesterday, as I was driving down the street where I live in Garland, I was struck by the sameness of all the front yards. They all featured lawns all the way from the curb up to about four feet out from the house. Most of the homes had shrubs along the foundation of the house and a few featured flower beds in front of the shrubs. This was the only variation.
First of all, I wondered how many gallons of pesticides and herbicides are poured over these lawns year after year. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has estimated nearly 70,000,000 pounds (32,000,000 kg) of active pesticide ingredients are used on suburban lawns each year in the United States. It has also been estimated that more herbicides are applied per acre of lawn than are used by most farmers to grow industrial crops.
SIDE TRACK OFF THE TOPIC OF HOMOGENIZATION
The issues of pesticides and herbicides on lawns was fresh on my mind because yesterday when I was out looking over the beginning of my Woodland garden, a MOXIE attendant was walking over my neighbor’s lawn applying pesticide/herbicide. The wind was blowing that day and I asked him to hold his sprayer much closer to the ground to that stuff didn’t blow over on my berry crop. He reassured me that the poison he was applying was “safe.” I asked him what it was and he replied “Butoxide that is made from chrysanthemums.”
As I told him, Piperonyl butoxide (PBO) is an additive that increases the effectiveness of pyrethrins (the dried powdered flower heads of chrysanthemums. It has recently been discovered that PBO is an active ingredient itself and as such is not widely accepted by organic growers. Furthermore, most likely what he was spraying was pyrethroids which are synthetic mand-made chemicals based on the pyrethrins found in the dried flower heads of chrysanthemums. Pyrethroids have a long residual period after spraying and are thus more lethal to a wider range of insects than pyrethrins. Pyrethroids are not organics.
Furthermore this concoction is often mixed with permethrin a common synthetic pyrethroid that also contains chlorine. This has a long residual life, so avoid using it on food crops. Today when I opened one of my bedroom windows in the front of my house I saw the MOXIE truck across the street apply the pesticides to my neighbor Margie’s lawn.
I despise companies that present themselves as being “natural” and “organic” when in fact they are anything but.
The fact that Americans’ unsustainable lawns and lawn care damage our waterways and our neighborhood ecosystems is becoming more apparent to more Americans every day. Visit The Lawn Reform Coalition . This group was started by environmental writers and activists who recognized the need for a centralized place for information and resources. -At this site you can see garden transformations, and learn about environmental issues, better species of lawn, and read related book reviews.
BACK TO HOMOGENIZATION OF THE USA . . .
Homogenization began with the theme of the “melting pot”. The melting pot is a metaphor for a heterogeneous society becoming more homogeneous, the different elements “melting together” into a harmonious whole with a common culture. The first use in American literature of the concept of immigrants “melting” into the receiving culture are found in the writings of J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur. In his Letters from an American Farmer (1782). Blending in and conformity with the norm became the standard.
Then about 100 years later a businessman by the name of Fred Harvey kicked the homogenization of America up a notch with the Harvey House chain of restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality industry businesses alongside railroads in the western United States. The company traces its origins to the 1875 opening of two railroad eating houses located at Wallace, Kansas and Hugo, Colorado on the Kansas Pacific Railway. These cafés were opened by Fred Harvey, then a freight agent for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.
In my opinion, ever since the Harvey Houses we have gone overboard in trying to make everything on the American landscape look the same. I’m always struck by this when I travel in the USA–particularly when I get off a super highway for gas. If I didn’t know where I was because of my map, there would be no distinctive landmark to let me know because these strips off American superhighways are all the same ugly display of garish corporate brands: McDonald’s, Burger King, Exxon Mobil, etc. From town to town, it’s the same dreary display of soul-less homogeneity.
When I was a kid, Route 66 was a real adventure. I rode along it with my parents several times to visit relatives living in Santa Monica. Every town was different, but Holiday Inns were already starting to creep up on the landscape. By 1958 there were already 50 of them in the USA. By 1954, there were 400 Howard Johnson’s restaurants in 32 states and I remember my brother and I begging out parents to stop and eat at one because they were so “modern.” Even back then children were somehow suckered by Madison Avenue advertising. Maybe they put it in the water. Do you think?