Travel | August 27, 2022 2:45 pm

Swedish Tourist Destination Embraced Water Shortages in an Unexpected Way

Residents competed for the title of "ugliest lawn"

Gotland, in less drought-prone times.
Schorle, CC BY-SA 3.0

Located in the Baltic Sea due south of Stockholm, the island of Gotland has become a popular tourist destination due to its striking landscapes and abundant history dating back to the times when Vikings abounded in the region. Unfortunately for the island’s residents, this year has brought water shortages to the island given the influx of visitors.

What happens when high temperatures meet a lack of water? Well, if you’re a Gotland resident trying to maintain your lawn this summer, you probably know already — and it’s not pretty.

All of this has led the local government to embrace an array of dried-up lawns. How? As one Washington Post article points out, the local government has turned ruined lawns into a competition. Specifically, a competition for the island’s ugliest lawn — established to soften the blow of an irrigation ban throughout the island that barred residents from watering their lawns.

According to the article, the ban on irrigation is set to expire on September 1. Residents were able to enter the competition by sending images of their lawns via Instagram.

The Gotland-wide competition also speaks to a growing movement that’s made the case that lawns may have had their day, with it being time for us to move on. Earlier this month in The New York Times, Agnes Walton and Kirby Ferguson called lawns “an ecological dead zone that’s sucking the nation’s aquifers dry.” Could the Gotland contest be something worth replicating elsewhere — or is it merely a step towards an even more ecologically-sound future?