Last month, I introduced the Pesticide Reduction Coalition and detailed ATCO’s supportive role. This time, I’d like to share a bit more about the first initiative.
For those of you who may not have caught the last post, The Marin County Board of Supervisors, in response to the community’s interest in reducing toxins in the environment, particularly on private property, has initiated a two-year education and outreach campaign targeted at increasing awareness and reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides containing products such as glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, by residential and commercial property owners, schools, and landscape workers.
The issue is especially problematic on private property. The charter of the Pesticide Reduction Coalition puts it this way: “Commercial, agricultural, and government use of toxins is carefully regulated and tracked. Conversely, private residential use of many of these same products, purchased at retail outlets, is unregulated.” The initial campaign targets this unregulated usage.
A Case Study
Here’s how the problem looks in real life. I have a neighbor who is very forward-thinking about the environment. He and I talk often about toxins used inside and outside the home. He talks “green.” He gets it. And yet the other day, he discovered his landscaping service spraying RoundUp on the decomposed granite patio in his backyard to control the emergence of spring weeds. He had all the right intentions and yet “he” uses glyphosate on his own property. My neighbor is typical of many well-meaning Marinites who know what they should do but, faced with a perceived crisis of one sort or another—whether weeds, rodents, or yellow jackets— reach for toxic products.
The Coalition’s campaign will first will reach out to homeowners in Marin who, whether personally or “unintentionally” as above, use herbicides. The data suggests that these homeowners are often “weekend warriors” who take on chores in their spare time, using whatever is at hand and whatever seems easiest. Because weed-killers like RoundUp are so readily available with so little deterrent information or suggestions for non-toxic alternatives, they often make them their choice. The Coalition’s goal is to educate the community about the use of weed-killers and, in particular, those that contain glyphosate on private property and in residential settings.
Word on the Street
The private use of herbicide has been a hot-button item in Marin County news lately. Very recently, there was an extended thread on NextDoor.com about this very topic. As you might expect, there was a great deal of anxiety, some misinformation, and some lack of information. For instance, not till late in the discussion was there mention the impact of glyphosate on honeybees, which we touched on in our last post. Also, the classification of glyphosate by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Probable Carcinogen was either unknown to residents or disputed. The discussion was a realistic, if unscientific, cross-section of community awareness and concern about the issue. The Coalition wants to address these concerns by showing homeowners other options available besides toxic herbicides.
The Coalition’s overarching goals align with our own. Some years ago, in 2008, ATCO made a move to more botanical insecticides. Honestly, these were not the only insecticides we used, but were our primary products, and we used them almost exclusively on all services for regular maintenance, quarterly, bi-monthly, monthly customers. In addition, we’ve developed a no-spray service for the control of ants, utilizing baits instead of spays. These are examples of our ongoing IPM (Integrated Pest Management) strategy. Applying that philosophy to herbicides (which we do not commonly use in our treatments) is an easy leap, and supporting a broad-based reduction of toxic products in our environment is a core value for ATCO.
In the coming months, we will be reaching out to our client base in support of the Coalition’s work. Look for more information as the weeks progress.
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