Beyond Pesticides

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Create a healthy lawn without using toxic pesticides. Pesticide Free Zone

Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogencity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system.

Of those same 30 lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 24 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 11 are toxic to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds.

Non-toxic weed control does not begin with finding a safe herbicide to use on your lawn. The quick-fix that chemicals offer does not address the fact that weeds are a symptom of the overall condition of your lawn, and are not just an isolated problem. For example, is your lawn being cut high (2-4 inches) and often? Is there proper drainage and aeration in your lawn? If not, your lawn may not be as healthy as it could be, and the opportunistic weeds are gaining a foothold in your yard. This overall perspective is one of the principles behind an integrated pest management (IPM) program, the concept upon which all non-chemical pest control methods are based. Source: Beyond Pesticides

The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns has some easy tips you can use to create a healthy lawn.

  • Bad mowing practices can cause many lawn problems so make sure your mower blades are sharp and keep your grass height at 3 to 3 1/2 inches. A good rule is to cut no more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing (see Grasscycling below).
  • Some weeds are the result of using poor quality grass seed. Make sure you use the proper grass seed for your region.
  • And remember many “weeds” have beneficial qualities. For example, clover takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and distributes it to the grass, which helps it grow. Clover roots are also extensive and very drought-resistant, providing resources to soil organisms. It also stays green long after your lawn goes naturally dormant.

Grasscycling is another great way to achieve a healthy lawn. Grasscycling is recycling grass clippings by leaving them on your lawn instead of collecting them for disposal. Grasscycling is a practice that can help produce a healthy lawn while at the same time benefit you, your community and the environment.

To grasscycle properly:

  • Cut your grass when it’s dry.
  • Cut your grass regularly. A good rule is to cut no more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing. Cutting off more than one-third at a time can stop roots from growing and require frequent watering during dry summers to keep the grass alive. In addition, the one-third rule produces smaller clippings that disappear quickly by filtering down to the soil surface.
  • Cut your grass with a sharp blade. Sharp blades cut the grass cleanly and that helps ensure rapid healing and regrowth. Dull blades tear and bruise the grass. The wounded grass becomes weakened and is less able to prevent invading weeds and recover from disease.

Grasscycling improves lawn quality when grass clippings are allowed to decay naturally on the lawn.

  • They are returning nitrogen and nutrients to your soil.
  • They act as a water-saving mulch, since the clippings are 80 to 85 percent water.
  • They encourage natural soil aeration by earthworms.
  • Mowing time is reduced because there’s no need to bag clippings.

If you have weeds growing where you don’t want them (say, if they are peaking out from your mulch) pour vinegar, lemon juice or boiling water on them. Make sure the liquid only goes where you don’t want vegetation of any kind because it does not discriminate; it kills everything.

Incidentally, boiling water also took care of a ground bee situation we had. I waited until after dark, when the bees were back in their nest, and poured the biggest pot of boiling water I could carry on them and then ran for my life. I repeated the process the next evening . . . just in case. Problem solved without calling an exterminator.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Beyond Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides is a wonderful source of information and tips for creating a healthy, pesticide-free lawn. Formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, Beyond Pesticides works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides.

The site is full of wonderful article, for example: Read Your “Weeds” – A Simple Guide To Creating A Healthy Lawn and Least-toxic Control of Weeds

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Avoid things labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” that contains triclosan or triclocarban. RegularAt the farm soap and hot water to clean just as effectively without the health concerns of triclosan. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when you don’t have access to running water.

Triclosan and triclocarban are antibacterial chemicals commonly added to consumer products. In laboratory studies, they have been shown to disrupt hormones (for example, triclosan has been associated with lower levels of thyroid hormone) and can encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria or “superbugs.”

These chemicals get washed down drains and then they enter our waterways. According to the NRDC, “Triclosan is one of the most frequently detected chemicals in streams across the U.S. and both triclosan and triclocarban are found in high concentrations in sediments and sewage sludge where they can persist for decades.

In the environment, antibacterial compounds could disrupt aquatic ecosystems and pose a potential risk to wildlife. Traces of triclosan have been found in earthworms from agricultural fields and Atlantic dolphins. In the lab, triclosan has been shown to interfere with development of tadpoles into frogs, a process that is dependent on thyroid hormone.”

Visit Beyond Pesticides for a list of products that contain triclosan at http://www.beyondpesticides.org/antibacterial/products.php. I was surprised at some of the products listed, like toothpaste, ice cream scoops, paint, towels, the list goes on and on. Read your labels!

From the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s site:

FDA does not have evidence that triclosan added to antibacterial soaps and body washes provides extra health benefits over soap and water. Consumers concerned about using hand and body soaps with triclosan should wash with regular soap and water.

And this past Thursday, the Associated Press reported the FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Yao said evaluating triclosan is “one of the highest priorities” for the agency. In the meantime, protect yourself and your family from needless exposure to triclosan.

Here are some ways to avoid triclosan courtesy of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

  • Avoid anything labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” which contains triclosan or triclocarban, such as soaps, gels, cleansers, toothpaste, cosmetics and other personal care products.
  • Avoid other “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” items such as cutting boards, towels, yoga mats, shoes, clothing and bedding.
  • Use regular soap and hot water to clean effectively. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when you don’t have access to running water.

For more information about triclosan, visit the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database at http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706623/TRICLOSAN/.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Beyond Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides.

Beyond Pesticides offers the latest information on pesticides and alternatives, as well as ongoing projects including children’s health, organic food, mosquito control and organic lawn care.

Triclosan and more than 5,000 antimicrobial products are currently registered with EPA, Beyond Pesticides is leading the charge to ban the non-medical uses of one of the “most prevalent and dangerous antibacterial chemicals on the market”: triclosan.

Visit Beyond Pesticides at http://www.beyondpesticides.org/ often to get updates about triclosan and other pesticides of concern.

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Create a healthy lawn without using toxic pesticides.Pesticide Free Zone

Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogencity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system.

Of those same 30 lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 24 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 11 are toxic to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds.

Non-toxic weed control does not begin with finding a safe herbicide to use on your lawn. The quick-fix that chemicals offer does not address the fact that weeds are a symptom of the overall condition of your lawn, and are not just an isolated problem. For example, is your lawn being cut high (2-4 inches) and often? Is there proper drainage and aeration in your lawn? If not, your lawn may not be as healthy as it could be, and the opportunistic weeds are gaining a foothold in your yard. This overall perspective is one of the principles behind an integrated pest management (IPM) program, the concept upon which all non-chemical pest control methods are based. Source: Beyond Pesticides

The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns has some easy tips you can use to create a healthy lawn.

  • Bad mowing practices can cause many lawn problems so make sure your mower blades are sharp and keep your grass height at 3 to 3 1/2 inches. A good rule is to cut no more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing (see Grasscycling below).
  • Some weeds are the result of using poor quality grass seed. Make sure you use the proper grass seed for your region.
  • And remember many “weeds” have beneficial qualities. For example, clover takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and distributes it to the grass, which helps it grow. Clover roots are also extensive and very drought-resistant, providing resources to soil organisms. It also stays green long after your lawn goes naturally dormant.

Grasscycling is another great way to achieve a healthy lawn. Grasscycling is recycling grass clippings by leaving them on your lawn instead of collecting them for disposal. Grasscycling is a practice that can help produce a healthy lawn while at the same time benefit you, your community and the environment.

To grasscycle properly:

  • Cut your grass when it’s dry.
  • Cut your grass regularly. A good rule is to cut no more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing. Cutting off more than one-third at a time can stop roots from growing and require frequent watering during dry summers to keep the grass alive. In addition, the one-third rule produces smaller clippings that disappear quickly by filtering down to the soil surface.
  • Cut your grass with a sharp blade. Sharp blades cut the grass cleanly and that helps ensure rapid healing and regrowth. Dull blades tear and bruise the grass. The wounded grass becomes weakened and is less able to prevent invading weeds and recover from disease.

Grasscycling improves lawn quality when grass clippings are allowed to decay naturally on the lawn.

  • They are returning nitrogen and nutrients to your soil.
  • They act as a water-saving mulch, since the clippings are 80 to 85 percent water.
  • They encourage natural soil aeration by earthworms.
  • Mowing time is reduced because there’s no need to bag clippings.

If you have weeds growing where you don’t want them (say, if they are peaking out from your mulch) pour vinegar, lemon juice or boiling water on them. Make sure the liquid only goes where you don’t want vegetation of any kind because it does not discriminate; it kills everything.

Incidentally, boiling water also took care of a ground bee situation we had. I waited until after dark, when the bees were back in their nest, and poured the biggest pot of boiling water I could carry on them and then ran for my life. I repeated the process the next evening . . . just in case. Problem solved without calling an exterminator.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Beyond Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides is a wonderful source of information and tips for creating a healthy, pesticide-free lawn. Formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, Beyond Pesticides works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides.

The site is full of wonderful article, for example: Read Your “Weeds” – A Simple Guide To Creating A Healthy Lawn and Least-toxic Control of Weeds

Tags: , , ,

EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Create a healthy lawn without using toxic pesticides.

Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogencity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system.

Of those same 30 lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 24 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 11 are toxic to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds.

Non-toxic weed control does not begin with finding a safe herbicide to use on your lawn. The quick-fix that chemicals offer does not address the fact that weeds are a symptom of the overall condition of your lawn, and are not just an isolated problem. For example, is your lawn being cut high (2-4 inches) and often? Is there proper drainage and aeration in your lawn? If not, your lawn may not be as healthy as it could be, and the opportunistic weeds are gaining a foothold in your yard. This overall perspective is one of the principles behind an integrated pest management (IPM) program, the concept upon which all non-chemical pest control methods are based. Source: Beyond Pesticides

The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns has some easy tips you can use to create a healthy lawn.

  • Bad mowing practices can cause many lawn problems so make sure your mower blades are sharp and keep your grass height at 3 to 3 1/2 inches. A good rule is to cut no more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing (see Grasscycling below).
  • Some weeds are the result of using poor quality grass seed. Make sure you use the proper grass seed for your region.
  • And remember many “weeds” have beneficial qualities. For example, clover takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and distributes it to the grass, which helps it grow. Clover roots are also extensive and very drought-resistant, providing resources to soil organisms. It also stays green long after your lawn goes naturally dormant.

Grasscycling is another great way to achieve a healthy lawn. Grasscycling is recycling grass clippings by leaving them on your lawn instead of collecting them for disposal. Grasscycling is a practice that can help produce a healthy lawn while at the same time benefit you, your community and the environment.

To grasscycle properly:

  • Cut your grass when it’s dry.
  • Cut your grass regularly. A good rule is to cut no more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing. Cutting off more than one-third at a time can stop roots from growing and require frequent watering during dry summers to keep the grass alive. In addition, the one-third rule produces smaller clippings that disappear quickly by filtering down to the soil surface.
  • Cut your grass with a sharp blade. Sharp blades cut the grass cleanly and that helps ensure rapid healing and regrowth. Dull blades tear and bruise the grass. The wounded grass becomes weakened and is less able to prevent invading weeds and recover from disease.

Grasscycling improves lawn quality when grass clippings are allowed to decay naturally on the lawn.

  • They are returning nitrogen and nutrients to your soil.
  • They act as a water-saving mulch, since the clippings are 80 to 85 percent water.
  • They encourage natural soil aeration by earthworms.
  • Mowing time is reduced because there’s no need to bag clippings.

If you have weeds growing where you don’t want them (say, if they are peaking out from your mulch) pour vinegar, lemon juice or boiling water on them. Make sure the liquid only goes where you don’t want vegetation of any kind because it does not discriminate; it kills everything.

Incidentally, boiling water also took care of a ground bee situation we had. I waited until after dark, when the bees were back in their nest, and poured the biggest pot of boiling water I could carry on them and then ran for my life. I repeated the process the next evening . . . just in case. Problem solved without calling an exterminator.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Beyond Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides is a wonderful source of information and tips for creating a healthy, pesticide-free lawn. Formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, Beyond Pesticides works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides.

The site is full of wonderful article, for example: Read Your “Weeds” – A Simple Guide To Creating A Healthy Lawn and Least-toxic Control of Weeds

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Editor’s Note: Each Tuesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel ProgramWe also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Tuesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: You don’t need to use commercial herbicides and pesticides to create a beautiful lawn.

We all want a beautiful lawn we can be proud of, but at what price? Is it really that important to have a perfect, weed-free lawn for a season or healthy children and pets for a lifetime?

According to a study from the University of Minnesota, children of pesticide applicators have “significantly higher rates of birth defects than the average population.” Another study, this one from the University of Southern California found that young infants and toddlers exposed to weedkillers within their first year of life are four-and-a-half times more likely to develop asthma by the time they are five and almost two-and-a-half times more likely when exposed to insecticides. The studies go on and on that link childhood exposure to chemicals to cancer, asthma and learning and developmental disorders.

Lawn Fact: During a typical year in neighborhoods across the country, over 102 million pounds of toxic pesticides are applied in pursuit of a perfect lawn and garden. This figure, up from 90 million pounds in the year 2000, continues to grow despite the growing body of scientific evidence that links pesticides to health and environmental risks. 

Source: Beyond Pesticides

Children and lawn chemicals don’t mix!

  • The National Academy of Sciences reports that children are more susceptible to chemicals than adults and estimates that 50% of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs during the first five years of life.
  • EPA concurs that children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxic chemicals.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that over 30% of the global burden of disease in children can be attributed to environmental factors, including pesticides.
  • Studies show that children living in households where pesticides are used suffer elevated rates of leukemia, brain cancer and soft tissue sarcoma.
  • A 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that students and school employees are being poisoned by pesticide use at schools and from drift off of neighboring farmlands.

So, do you have to have an ugly, weedy lawn? Absolutely not. The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns has some easy tips you can use to create a healthy lawn.

  • Make sure your mower blades are sharp and keep your grass height at 3 to 3 1/2 inches.
  • Some weeds are the result of using poor quality grass seed. Make sure you use the proper grass seed for your region.
  • Many “weeds” have beneficial qualities. For example, clover takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and distributes it to the grass, which helps it grow. Clover roots are also extensive and very drought-resistant, providing resources to soil organisms. It also stays green long after your lawn goes naturally dormant.

Is an occasional dandelion, knotweed or clover cause for alarm? No! Dandelions’ deep roots return nutrients to the surface, crabgrass provides erosion control and I’ve already extolled the virtues of clover. And by not using chemicals on your lawn you are helping your children, pets, neighbors and our planet live a healthier life.

Need some non-toxic gardening tips?

  • Visit Loving Natures Garden. Alison Kerr will give you the inspiration you need to keep your garden green.
  • Another wonderful site is Ecosystem Gardening – Carole Brown is ready to help you Create Wildlife Habitats and Protect the Environment.

Know the health and environmental impacts of the products you’re using to improve your lawn and garden.

Locally in the Fargo-Moorhead area:

Visit the Easter Set at the West Acres Center Court to purchase spring flowers and blooming plants to benefit the Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society. Purchases can be made from March 23rd thru April 8th, see you there!

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Beyond Pesticides
Beyond Pesticides (formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides) works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. The founders, who established Beyond Pesticides as a nonprofit membership organization in 1981, felt that without the existence of such an organized, national network, local, state and national pesticide policy would become, under chemical industry pressure, increasingly unresponsive to public health and environmental concerns.

Tags: , , , , ,

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: You don’t need to use commercial herbicides and pesticides to create a beautiful lawn.

We all want a beautiful lawn we can be proud of, but at what price? Is it really that important to have a perfect, weed-free lawn for a season or healthy children and pets for a lifetime?

As I was researching this topic, I came upon a study from the University of Minnesota that really hit home. In the study, 210,723 live births in Minnesota farming communities found that children of pesticide applicators have “significantly higher rates of birth defects than the average population.” Another study, this one from the University of Southern California found that young infants and toddlers exposed to weedkillers within their first year of life are four-and-a-half times more likely to develop asthma by the time they are five and almost two-and-a-half times more likely when exposed to insecticides. The studies go on and on that link childhood exposure to chemicals to cancer, asthma and learning and developmental disorders.

Lawn Fact: During a typical year in neighborhoods across the country, over 102 million pounds of toxic pesticides are applied in pursuit of a perfect lawn and garden. This figure, up from 90 million pounds in the year 2000, continues to grow despite the growing body scientific evidence of the public health and environmental consequences.

Source: Beyond Pesticides

Children and lawn chemicals don’t mix!

  • The National Academy of Sciences reports that children are more susceptible to chemicals than adults and estimates that 50% of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs during the first five years of life.
  • EPA concurs that children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxic chemicals.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that over 30% of the global burden of disease in children can be attributed to environmental factors, including pesticides.
  • Studies show that children living in households where pesticides are used suffer elevated rates of leukemia, brain cancer and soft tissue sarcoma.
  • A 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that students and school employees are being poisoned by pesticide use at schools and from drift off of neighboring farmlands.

So, do you have to have an ugly, weedy lawn? Absolutely not. The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns has some easy tips you can use to create a healthy lawn.

  • Make sure your mower blades are sharp and keep your grass height at 3 to 3 1/2 inches.
  • Some weeds are the result of using poor quality grass seed. Make sure you use the proper grass seed for your region.
  • Many “weeds” have beneficial qualities. For example, clover takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and distributes it to the grass, which helps it grow. Clover roots are also extensive and very drought-resistant, providing resources to soil organisms. It also stays green long after your lawn goes naturally dormant.

Is an occasional dandelion, knotweed or clover cause for alarm? No! Dandelions’ deep roots return nutrients to the surface, crabgrass provides erosion control and I’ve already extolled the virtues of clover. And by not using chemicals on your lawn you are helping your children, pets, neighbors and our planet live a healthier life.

Need some non-toxic gardening tips?

  • Visit Loving Natures Garden. Alison Kerr will give you the inspiration you need to keep your garden green.
  • Another wonderful site is Ecosystem Gardening – Carole Brown is ready to help you Create Wildlife Habitats and Protect the Environment.

Know the health and environmental impacts of the products you’re using to improve your lawn and garden.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Beyond Pesticides
Beyond Pesticides (formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides) works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. The founders, who established Beyond Pesticides as a nonprofit membership organization in 1981, felt that without the existence of such an organized, national network, local, state and national pesticide policy would become, under chemical industry pressure, increasingly unresponsive to public health and environmental concerns.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: You don’t need to use commercial herbicides and pesticides to create a beautiful lawn.

We all want a beautiful lawn we can be proud of, but at what price? Is it really that important to have a perfect, weed-free lawn for a season or healthy children and pets for a lifetime? Well, the answer is obvious so it mystifies me that people continue to dump chemicals on their yards and gardens not to mention the farmers who do the same.

As I was researching this topic, I came upon a study from the University of Minnesota that really hit home. In the study, 210,723 live births in Minnesota farming communities found that children of pesticide applicators have “significantly higher rates of birth defects than the average population.” Another study, this one from the University of Southern California found that young infants and toddlers exposed to weedkillers within their first year of life are four-and-a-half times more likely to develop asthma by the time they are five and almost two-and-a-half times more likely when exposed to insecticides. The studies go on and on that link childhood exposure to chemicals to cancer, asthma and learning and developmental disorders.

Lawn Fact: During a typical year in neighborhoods across the country, over 102 million pounds of toxic pesticides are applied in pursuit of a perfect lawn and garden. This figure, up from 90 million pounds in the year 2000, continues to grow despite the growing body scientific evidence of the public health and environmental consequences.

Source: Beyond Pesticides

Children and lawn chemicals don’t mix!

  • The National Academy of Sciences reports that children are more susceptible to chemicals than adults and estimates that 50% of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs during the first five years of life.
  • EPA concurs that children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxic chemicals.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that over 30% of the global burden of disease in children can be attributed to environmental factors, including pesticides.
  • Studies show that children living in households where pesticides are used suffer elevated rates of leukemia, brain cancer and soft tissue sarcoma.
  • A 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that students and school employees are being poisoned by pesticide use at schools and from drift off of neighboring farmlands.

So, do you have to have an ugly, weedy lawn? Absolutely not. The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns has some easy tips you can use to create a healthy lawn. They caution that bad mowing practices can cause many lawn problems so make sure your mower blades are sharp and keep your grass height at 3 to 3 1/2 inches. Also, some weeds are the result of using poor quality grass seed. Make sure you use the proper grass seed for your region. And remember many “weeds” have beneficial qualities. For example, clover takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and distributes it to the grass, which helps it grow. Clover roots are also extensive and very drought-resistant, providing resources to soil organisms. It also stays green long after your lawn goes naturally dormant.

Is an occasional dandelion, knotweed or clover cause for alarm? No! Dandelions’ deep roots return nutrients to the surface, crabgrass provides erosion control and I’ve already extolled the virtues of clover. And by not using chemicals on your lawn you are helping your children, pets, neighbors and our planet live a healthier life.

Need some non-toxic gardening tips?

  • Visit Loving Natures Garden. Alison Kerr will give you the inspiration you need to keep your garden green.
  • Another wonderful site is Ecosystem Gardening – Carole Brown is ready to help you Create Wildlife Habitats and Protect the Environment.

Know the health and environmental impacts of the products you’re using to improve your lawn and garden.

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

Beyond Pesticides
Beyond Pesticides (formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides) works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. The founders, who established Beyond Pesticides as a nonprofit membership organization in 1981, felt that without the existence of such an organized, national network, local, state and national pesticide policy would become, under chemical industry pressure, increasingly unresponsive to public health and environmental concerns.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com. UPDATED TIME: Wendy’s segment is now live at 1220pm (central) starting the Fall of 2010.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Buy local and organic produce whenever possible. WDAY Green TipsSwitch to local and organic produce to improve your health, support your local economy and lessen adverse environmental impacts.

Organic agriculture is a sustainable way to farm that does not permit the following:

  • Toxic pesticides
  • Chemical fertilizers
  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Antibiotics
  • Sewage sludge
  • Irradiation

Instead organic agriculture utilizes techniques such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and composting to produce healthy soil, prevent pest and disease problems, and grow healthy food and fiber.

The most important organic food products to purchase for children are not only those that contain high residues in conventional form (see Guide below), but those that they consume in great quantity. For example, if children drink a lot of juice, purchasing organic juice is particularly important to reduce their pesticide exposure.

Source: Beyond Pesticides

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

Environmental Working Group

The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.

EWG specializes in providing useful resources (like Skin Deep and the Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce) to consumers while simultaneously pushing for national policy change.

EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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