Doing the California Drought: Is a Brown Lawn Holier?

Doing the California Drought: Is a Brown Lawn Holier? May 20, 2015


My husband and I are blessed to live in a lovely home, in a beautiful neighborhood, in a fabulous city.

We are blessed.

But the city we live in is in the state of California, where the water shortage has been well chronicled. We in the Golden State are in a serious drought. A serious one. We can look around our community, which lies in a farming region, and see the economic impact of the lack of water. It’s serious for everyone.

So we’ve decided to begin to shift the landscaping at our house to try to vastly minimize our water usage. My husband started the process of getting rid of a large portion of our grass a few weeks ago. Last night, as I sat looking at my yard, I could see the difference. We hope to find some combination of inexpensive ground cover and xeriscaping to replace most of the water-loving grass. In the interim, it’s not going to be pretty.

But we definitely made the right decision to be good stewards of the precious resource of water.

Looking at all that brown made me realize the many ways in which I waste too much water every day. And it reminded me of guidance offered by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI back in 2008:

The pope said water is “an essential and indispensable” gift from God for people to care for and use, but its protection demands clear international and national policies and its use must be guided by criteria that uphold solidarity and responsibility to the whole human family.

“Inadequate access to safe drinking water affects the well-being of a huge number of people and is often the cause of disease, suffering, conflicts, poverty and even death,” he said quoting the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

Water should not be treated as merely an economic commodity, he said; its use must be guided by “reason and solidarity, fruit of a balanced synergy between the public and private sectors.”

and of Pope Francis:

“I encourage, therefore, the international community to make sure the planet’s water is adequately protected and no one is excluded or discriminated against” in the fair use of this resource, which is “the most essential element for life,” he said Sunday after reciting the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

“The future of humanity depends on our ability to safeguard and share” clean water, the pope said, in marking World Water Day, an annual United Nations celebration to promote sustainable water management.

I realize every day that I’m blessed beyond measure to have a roof over my house and clean water to drink. I hope I will never take it for granted.

So is a brown lawn “holier”? 

I don’t know. I’m far from holy.

But in our community, a brown lawn–or better yet, no lawn at all–feels like the right choice.

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