Free ain’t worth the trouble. Pass the pesticides, they make me comfortable.

Off the keyboard of Gypsy Mama

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Published on The Butterchurn on August 26, 2013

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Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner

LD recently took a trip to the main county landfill to purge some of our waste (chairs that were broken and unrepairable, recyclables, etc). At his visit, he struck up a conversation with an employee of the joint about the free mulch that the county has been offering its residents.

Apparently people have stopped taking the ground mulch home. The “mulch mountain” mound has grown to the point where the county has decided that they are going to cease the mulching operation, and let the $250,000 mulching machine sit and rust.

This has caused LD and I to ask ourselves… are people just too busy to pitchfork some of this free mulch into their truck beds? Are people lazy and upset that the landfill no longer offers a Bobcat’s assistance for loading the mulch into your truck for $5 a load?

I have discovered, through my interaction with Facebook, that the issue is much bigger than we may have imagined. People are AFRAID of it.

That’s right…people are afraid of FREE organic material. Lawn waste that others have gathered and brought to the dump so that it could be both disposed of and recycled. Tree limbs, the tops of trimmed bushes, landscaping prunage…all things that would be thrown into the vast wasteland of dirty diapers, soda bottles and pizza boxes if it weren’t for the city’s mulching operation.

And that is just where this organic material will end up if residents of Spartanburg County don’t speak up and do something about the county office’s decision to shut down the mulching machine for good.

I recently posted this cry for help to the little community page I’m trying to get rolling over in Facebookland:

“TRUTH: According to a Spartanburg County Employee, our main landfill, Welford, has a $250,000 wood chipper/mulcher that will ROT unless Spartanburg County Residents DO SOMETHING about it. We need your support!

FREE MULCH is currently available, but “Mulch Mountain” is going away SOON. People who care about the Earth have begun to cultivate what will be the LAST pile of mulch created by the landfill unless residents contact their local media to let them know they are AGAINST the discontinuation of collecting Landscaping waste, leaves that you leave on your curb, bushes you’ve trimmed…all of the things the county has picked up from your curbside…will go in with the dirty diapers and other regular waste unless someone says something about this! Help us spread the word!!!!”

I was shocked at the immediate, negative responses…such as:

“Have to be careful… A lot of that free mulch contains parasites that can be harmful to your plants. Aside from that, organic material aids the landfill in breaking down garbage.”

“We used to get the mulch, now our yard is full of poison ivy, and we have to use ivy killer, which we don’t really like to do. But with the gkids we have to”

“… Unintentional seeding”

“We had an infestation of ticks one year from some of that “free” mulch..and it has huge chunks in it…free isn’t always worth the trouble…”

I asked, “What makes the trees that are chopped up and processed into mulch that you purchase different from this free mulch (which is also mostly chopped up tree limbs)?
Where do the landscaping companies get their mulch? What makes it different than the free mulch? Does anyone know?”

The one and only response so far to that question: “Isn’t the stuff you purchase treated for insects and such?? I think it is also double ground..so it is much finer without all the large chunks.”

There you have it… it seems that people blame the free mulch for unwanted, naturally occurring plants and insects. They’re flat out afraid of it and see it as poisonous….yet they’re cool with purchasing mulch that has been “treated for insects”, thus, loaded with pesticides. Does this make the purchased mulch any cleaner???

I’m really at a loss here. I’m upset for my generation and our way of thinking. Free organic material is bad, apparently. We can only trust the integrity of organic material that has been zapped with pesticides and “treatments.”

I hang my head in shame for our species. How have we separated ourselves from nature, from the Earth to this extent???

This was the only Facebook friendly response I could come up with:

“I have never heard of mulch being treated for insects, but that is a stirring thought. I’ll do a little internet research and see what I can come up with. On that thought, however, if they do treat the mulch for insects (via an insecticide) is that worse for gardening than taking the chance of unintentional seeding, poison ivy, ticks…which are all naturally occurring?”

You can’t change everyone’s way of thinking, but you can save as many as you can, as slowly as is needed…but with how much effort? Trying to deter people away from the plague of programmed thinking is exhausting. All I can do is keep putting the idea out there that…natural is always better when it comes to gardening. It has to be, right?

Looks like Earth to me!

Looks like Earth to me!

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LD's creative tie down.

LD’s creative tie down.

Gypsy Mulch Mountain.

Gypsy Mulch Mountain.

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