In celebration of Earth Day later this month, the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Eco-Challenge will release its latest Green Guidelines with a focus on landscape management. The guidelines promote trading in traditional lawns for natural landscaping and native plants, as well as lawn care that considers soil health and pollution reduction.
The Green Guidelines, Landscape Management, will be published online at www.massbar.org/ecochallenge and distributed to MBA members and Eco-Challenge participants on Earth Day, April 22. The guidelines will be broken down into two major categories, “go natural” and “thoughtful lawn care,” with the latter containing suggestions in the areas of mowing, watering, pollution, fertilizers, lighting and soil and planting.
“These guidelines provide lawyers with practical landscaping changes that will have a positive impact on the environment,” said Susan Reid, co-chair of the Energy and Environment Task Force and staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, the MBA’s Eco-Challenge partner.
Legal businesses of all sizes, from large firms to solo practitioners operating out of their homes will be able to use these guidelines to make positive changes toward greener landscaping practices. Legal practitioners can also implement the guidelines at their homes.
Statistics and government reports show the negative effects of traditional landscaping practices:
- Non-native plants cost the U.S. economy more than $97 billion a year in lost crops and failed recovery efforts for endangered species, according to the New England Wild Flower Society.
- Excess synthetic fertilizers run off the land with harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries and wildlife, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- The average lawn mower emits as much smog-forming pollution in one hour as eight new cars traveling at 55 miles per hour for one hour, reports The Union of Concerned Scientists.
The overuse of water is also a growing concern, said Nancy B. Reiner, co-chair of the Energy and Environment Task Force, which oversees the Eco-Challenge. “It is imperative that we take steps toward becoming a more water neutral society to preserve this critical and scarce resource,” said Reiner, executive director of the Counsel on Call’s Boston office. “Many typical landscaping practices waste abundant amounts of water.”
Typical suburban houses use at least 30 percent of their water for outdoor lawn watering, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water is wasted due to evaporation, wind and/or over-watering.
The new guidelines, which follow the release of an office-specific version last year, are just one part of the Eco-Challenge’s second year of initiatives. A cell phone recycling program in conjunction with Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine program (www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline) launched Feb. 2. Working and broken cell phones, batteries and accessories from all service providers are accepted at one of three collection boxes: MBA headquarters, 20 West St., Boston; MBA Western Mass. office, 73 State St., Springfield; and CLF’s Massachusetts headquarters, 62 Summer St., Boston.
The proceeds from New England cell phone collections are directed toward organizations that work to prevent domestic violence and assist survivors through purchasing and donating refurbished phones with airtime or paying for special projects. Those that have received support include Jane Doe Inc., YWCA of Western Massachusetts, the Norfolk County Sherriff’s Department and Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
The MBA launched the Eco-Challenge with the Conservation Law Foundation in September 2007 and published the first Green Guidelines, For the Office, four months later.
Nearly 100 firms, attorneys or organizations have signed the MBA Lawyers Environmental Pledge to join the Eco-Challenge. Pledge Partners represent all regions of Massachusetts and office sizes, including solo practitioners in Stockbridge, mid-sized firms in Lowell and major firms in Boston.
There are also Pledge Partners outside of traditional law firms and the state of Massachusetts.
For more information on the MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge, or to sign the MBA Lawyers Environmental Pledge, visit www.massbar.org/ecochallenge.