Grass: Not What It’s Cut Out to Be

Here’s a marketing challenge. Are tree trimmings and cut grass truly “waste” or “trash” or “garbage”?

Using the wrong terminology might be one roadblock to recycling and composting, says Joel Makower, editor of the Green Consumer Letter. “Cut grass is no more ‘filth’ or ‘junk’ than is a fallen tree,” Makower writes, arguing that more benign terms--"grass clippings” and the like--would prompt people to value these “leftovers” more. He called on “plain old American marketing know-how” to come up with more positive names.

Makower was spurred to action by a loyal reader, Richard Kashmanian, a senior economist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who complained to the newsletter: “Ties are made from silk, not ‘silk worm waste.’ . . . We buy honey, not bee spit.”