The trouble with cycling
SOMETIME last week the wind blew a large green sheet of plastic into my garden.
As I put it in my box of recycling I noticed a label indicating that the plastic had originated with a synthetic lawn company.
Now, where had I seen that name before? And then I remembered that I’d seen it while out riding on my bicycle just a few days previously.
I had been slowly cruising through the backstreets of a leafy local suburb when my eye was taken by two small signs that had been erected on the verge in front of a house. The first was for the synthetic lawn company. The verge itself was pretty scruffy, with weeds and bare patches, so clearly the plastic lawn had been installed behind the front wall where I could hear the sound of kids happily playing. The second sign was for a well-known garden design and landscaping company.
As I rode on, I momentarily had visions of all the trees and plants in the garden likewise being replaced with rubber trees and plastic flowers that never shed their leaves and which bloomed all year round in all sorts of weather.
The “greenie” in me was immediately indignant. Instead of planting trees, shrubs and grass which could soak up carbon dioxide and help clean the atmosphere, here this landscaper was using artificial plants made in dirty chemical plants from hydrocarbon feedstocks.
And the children happily romping on the lawn and who probably think milk comes in bottles from the supermarket would be even further removed from nature.
For a second, I felt like turning in my tracks and ringing the doorbell so I could give the property owner a piece of my mind.
Then another green side of me appeared. I suddenly realised that never again would that secluded garden witness a diesel-powered lawn mower bursting into action in a puff of fumes.
And, if indeed, the trees had been replaced with artificial arbours, then no longer would the lilt of the leafblower waft across the neighbourhood.
No precious water would be needed to keep the plants healthy and green. I found myself wondering how much energy the owner would save in a year. And what about all those chemical fertilisers he’d used heretofore?
How long would it take for him to offset all the carbon that went into making the raw materials and finished plants and then transporting them to their final resting place?
That’s the trouble with riding a bicycle. You see things you would never notice from a car and then you have time to conduct imaginary debates with yourself about the small things that provide a pointer to where our big world is going — or not.