Courtney Brooks: Seeing the world through new eyes

bAfter spending the majority of a semester focusing on wealth and income inequality, I am beginning to look at the world through a new lens, one that can’t help but highlight how wasteful some of us are with our money.

Our fellow Americans who are fortunate enough to have money to spend seem to literally be throwing it out the window. We waste money on any and everything, from daily Starbucks $6.00 coffees to designer baby clothes that your child will outgrow in a month, to paying extra for faster shipping; if there is a way to waste money, chances are we have probably found it. With summer approaching, I have recently discovered that one of the biggest “investments” that American’s are wasting money on is professional landscaping. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but in suburbia, it is certainly wasted on them.

aIn the past, I’ve never paid much attention to the landscaping, but because of this new lens, this spring it seems to be all that I notice. Not a day goes by in my suburban neighborhood where there aren’t professional landscaping trucks parked outside at least two houses. While homeowners socialize in the cul de sac or lounge in lawn chairs, landscapers are busy mowing their lawns, planting flowers, laying mulch… all tasks that look simple enough to do on one’s own. One thing about suburbia socialites is that they love to brag, so I had no trouble getting information from my neighbors about how much their landscaping costs them. After some simple calculations, I determined that the average cost of landscaping annually in my neighborhood is $7,000.

SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. Seven thousand dollars, every year, wasted on something as superficial as having a “pretty lawn.” Is this what the American dream has turned into? Wasting money to keep up an appearance for people who you probably don’t even like? Seven thousand dollars is almost half that annual salary for those working minimum wage jobs. Seven thousand dollars could go toward housing a homeless person for one year, toward daycare for a single mother who can’t make it to work, toward food for a family struggling to make ends meet.

The list goes on and on; $7,000 is enough money to change someone’s life, and yet here we are, wasting it so our grass can look a little bit greener than the lawn next to it.

I don’t mean to bash those who take pride in their landscaping, I just hope to put into perspective how much some of us are wasting while others of us are struggling. The gap between the fortunate and the less fortunate in our country is shocking. If you wish to help, consider these tips for DIY landscaping this summer and put the money you would be spending on it toward a better cause.


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