So is brown the new green? I think not! Cities in Southern California are covering their greenscapes with brown mulch chips and putting out cute little signs proclaiming “brown is the new green”, encouraging people to change their landscaping over to brown mulch chips, dirt and rocks.
Well, it’s not pretty in Phoenix or Palm Desert, and it’s not pretty in the city. Coming from the Northern Arizona area, where it is very dry and it is a struggle to get anything to grow, brown is not green in any way, shape or form. Brown is brown. It’s dirt. Dirt blows around and makes the air all dusty. Green absorbs carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses and converts them back into oxygen, which it puts back into the air. As our city’s air quality gets worse, due to supposed global warming, it is not more brown, but more green that is needed to convert the greenhouse gasses caused by our asphalt, concrete, and industry back into oxygen. More green, not less.
Now, I’m not advocating water-hogging lawns. But trees, shade, drought tolerant plants, lavender, food plants, fruit trees. Even though fruit trees and vegetable gardens use a lot of water, they are also giving back in the form of food, edibles. Herbs and flowers are also useful, as well as attractive. That’s much more efficient than a lawn. I’m also not advocating getting rid of green grass entirely, just cut back on it. We took a walk down in the beach cities a couple of days ago and a lot of homes had strips of grass in geometric patterns on their driveways. Instead of front lawns. And it looked great!
Do we really need so many golf courses? At the expense of letting our public parks go brown? I do not see that as heroic, nor as conserving water. We have the technology to inexpensively filter gray water into irrigation water. With all the hotels, homes, and businesses with copious amounts of gray water, there would be more than enough to filter and recycle back to flushing toilets and watering public greenspaces, as well as golf courses. Why not give tax credits to retrofit homes and businesses to filter and recycle their gray water?
So what are solutions to brown is the new green? Well, we water on our watering days, we reuse graywater, with one of the many legal systems, several of which can be installed by the homeowner without any permits required. And, if you run the gray water through a bucket of sand and gravel, it takes out a lot of the junk that is not so good for the plants and the lawn that you’re watering. Doing dishes and washing veggies in a dishpan and dumping that water on the yard. Putting in drought tolerant plants and using that brown (or red, or green) mulch. Or even the free mulch that Calmet gives away several times a year. Retrofitting your home with a gray water recycling system.
What would your suggest?