This morning, in the eco-minded valley that is Boulder, Colorado, I drank some fair-trade organic coffee, hopped on my bike and, with my dog (who I adopted from the Humane Society), went downtown--where local, independent businesses proliferate.
Returning, I came across a sign on a neighbor's lawn that looked like this:
Pesticides, especially when sprayed on bushes and trees, can easily waft onto other neighbors' lawns. Video:
"Pesticide," as most of us know, is a fancy word for "poison." Injested through food (say, on your apple tree), it's really bad. Runoff into our waterways, real bad. Rolling around in it, not great (as founder of Pangea Organics Josh Onysko likes to remind people, our skin is 87% absorbent of whatever's put on it, it's like a big sponge). And yet we fail to connect the dots between cancer (click here for resources), neurological and reproductive disorders and birth defects on the one hand...and our casual everyday use of pesticides on the other hand. Lawn and garden pesticides are also leading cause of bird deaths, dead waterways and dead pollinators (bees...).
And yet, 76 million pounds of pesticides are applied residentially (not counting our schools and...egad, hospitals) each year. That's 75% of American homes? So why do we hate dandelions (which can be eaten or made into wine, after all) more than we love our families?
Because, though pesticides are named on the EPA's list of endocrine disruptors, we don't think of pesticides--or, for that matter, Windex and the other charming chemicals beneath our sinks--as poisons.
Some cities have organized "pesticide-free" campaigns (click images below for more resources)
And yet, with cigarette smoking, we've seen how a populace, once the facts are clear, can move to separate those who want to use a poisonous product that just happens to have some nice effects from those who want to stay healthy. Smokers, for example, aren't allowed to smoke within 15 feet of entrances, let alone indoors, in Boulder.
So why do we allow indiscriminate pesticide use? My question for you lawyers out there is, can we sue neighbors, or better yet pesticide companies, for poisoning (even if in small doses) and harming the long-term health of our children, pets and loved ones? Would seem like a candidate for a class-action suit.
And what are other ways to encourage natural lawn care by our neighbors, city governments and farmers?