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Myth vs. Fact: The Truth About Green

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Unless you live under a rock or in a cave, it’s difficult not to notice that there is a movement across the United States of people going “green.” Much of the time that refers to better waste management, using less electricity and buying earth friendly products. But what about those actual green things like trees, plants, flowers and lawns? Taking care of green spaces could actually be the easiest and fastest way to “go green” and ultimately help the environment. National non-profit service organization Project EverGreen has compiled five myths about green spaces and the real story behind each one:

Myth 1: There’s not much one person can do to help the environment.

Fact: Helping the environment starts with each person and it’s as easy as walking out the front door. Working to create a thick, healthy lawn has many benefits that are often overlooked. First, it provides a living filter to help trap pollutants. This not only helps protect groundwater but can reduce storm water runoff into lakes and streams as well. In addition, through a process known as evapotranspiration, grass and other plants warmed by the sun give up water which then evaporates to cool not only the plant itself but the surrounding area as well. As a result, a well-tended lawn is one of nature’s most overlooked, and yet most efficient cooling systems. In fact, researchers have calculated that evapotranspiration from the front lawns in a block of eight houses produces cooling equivalent to 70 tons of air conditioning.

Myth 2: Investing in landscaping won’t pay off in the long run.

Fact: A study conducted by Virginia Tech University concluded that landscaping does pay off -- and the more sophisticated the better. House values with well landscaped green spaces increased from 5.5 percent to 11.4 percent, meaning a house worth $150,000 with no landscaping could be worth up to $19,050 more with some mature trees, bushes and flowers. And it’s not just the green spaces in the front and back yard that increase home values, but also the green spaces such as parks, within the neighborhood. Studies of three neighborhoods in Boulder, CO, indicated that property values decreased by $4.20 for each foot away from a greenbelt.

Myth 3: Trees are only beneficial if they’re outside.

Fact: According to the International Society of Arboriculture, the net cooling effect of one young, healthy interior tree is equivalent to ten room-sized air conditioners operating 20 hours a day, and proper placement of these plants can reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 20 percent. Plants have a natural cooling process called transpiration and can decrease the interior temperature in an office by 10 degrees according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Decreasing temperatures leads to decreased electricity use, which leads to a better environment.

Myth 4: Trees and bushes should be removed in high crime areas to make residents feel safer.

Fact: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted a study at a Chicago public housing development and found that residents of buildings with more trees and grass reported that they knew their neighbors better, socialized with them more, had stronger feelings of community, and felt safer and better adjusted than did residents of more barren, but otherwise identical buildings. Additional studies over a 30-year period in communities, neighborhoods, housing projects and prisons show that when landscaping projects are promoted, there is a definite increase in self esteem and a decrease in vandalism.

Myth 5: It’s not vital to a child’s well-being to spend time outdoors.

Fact: Spending time outdoors is necessary to a child’s development, and is especially beneficial to girls. A University of Illinois study found that girls exposed to green settings are better able to handle peer pressure, sexual pressure and other challenging situations, as well as perform better in school. Researchers have also found that ADD (I think this should be spelled out.) symptoms in children are relieved after contact with nature. Greenery in a child’s everyday environment-even views of green through a window-reduce ADD symptoms. It’s important for children to connect with nature and with green spaces in order to understand why it’s valuable to protect it.

“When you break it down it is easy to understand why it’s important to maintain green spaces,” said Den Gardner, executive director of Project EverGreen. “It’s important that people know the facts behind the benefits of green spaces and how easy it is for each person to get involved.”

About Project EverGreen

Project EverGreen is a national non-profit service organization representing service providers, associations, suppliers/distributors, media companies, other organizations and individuals affiliated with the green industry. Project EverGreen’s mission is to raise the awareness of the environmental, economic and lifestyle benefits of landscapes and promote the significance of those who preserve and enhance green spaces at home, work and play. In addition Project EverGreen sponsors YEA! (Yard Enthusiasts of America), http://yardenthusiasts.com, an online community designed to provide information and interaction on a wide range of lawn and landscaping topics. It also manages the GreenCare for Troops program, a national volunteer lawn care service program for military families.

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