Wednesday August 15, 2007
Environmentalists are up in arms about Cypress mulch. They say coastal Cypress forests are being wiped out to produce it, endangering humans while clearing old-growth forests (yes, the video trots out images of Katrina-devastated New Orleans). Meanwhile, the stores selling the mulch claim that the mulch is created from the parts of trees that can’t be used for lumber, that the trees would be cut down anyway, and that regardless the logging is being done in a sustainable fashion.
Unfortunately, neither side has much credibility. Let’s try to sort this out. A recent AP article on the issue notes that the drop in area of Cypress forests is probably a result of changes in mapping techniques. That can be read to mean that they don’t know whether the forests are contracting (hey, nice work there, forestry dudes). Florida Today has a good article, which noted that most of the good Cypress was cut down over a hundred years ago anyway (go read — it’s the best overview of the issue).
The commonsense presumption is that if loggers are planting Cypress as fast as they’re cutting them down, everything should be fine (this could be ensured, btw, by strictly limiting the area they’re allowed to log). Are they? This strikes me as a good opportunity for an enterprising young journalist — we need some real answers.
I did my own investigation down at Home Depot, and sure enough, Cypress mulch is cheaper then other options. $1.67 gets you a 2-cubic-foot bag, vs. $2 for “Red Mulch,” $2.57 for Pine Bark nugget mulch, $2.95 for Eucalyptus mulch, $4.99 for fancy chemical-treated stuff. The Eucalyptus stuff makes pretty strong “Environmentally friendly / produced from plantation growth,” claims. If you’re covering 100 square feet, it’ll cost you an extra $12 over the Cypress stuff, so if you’re concerned about the environment it shouldn’t be a big deal to error on the side of caution. Real answers would be welcome, however.comments powered by Disqus