Pesticides and fertilizers can cause significant harm to public health and the environment. Most pesticides contain potentially toxic chemicals that can cause negative health effects such as cancer and neurological and reproductive disorders. In addition, pesticides can migrate into lakes and streams when it rains. When fertilizers enter a body of water, they can cause oxygen levels to drop, killing aquatic life and posing risks to other species.
It is possible to have healthy, great-looking plants and grass while minimizing the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers. Minimizing the use of these chemicals means that you don’t need to purchase them as often, thereby saving money. Consider purchasing organic fertilizers (such as compost) or even composting your own food and landscaping wastes for use as a natural soil amendment. Remember that you can grow Giant Organic Pumpkins from Compost that are awesome and environmentally friendly.
As a reminder, here’s what does and doesn’t work in your compost pile:
What to Include
- From the Garden
- Leaves (chopped – to speed their breakdown)
- Grass (not wet)
- Plants & Weeds (without ripe seeds)
- Old potting soil
- Soft plant stems
- From the Kitchen
- Fruit scraps
- Vegetable trimmings
- Egg shells (crushed)
- Tea bags
- Coffee grounds with filters
- Shredded paper
DO NOT include…
- Meat, fish and bones
- Fats and oils
- Dairy products
- Pet waste
- Cheese, meat or other sauces
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management is an approach to pest management that helps reduce the use of pesticides. IPM means preventing infestations before they start, and using pesticides only when necessary. There are various IPM approaches that you can adopt to decrease over all reliance on chemical-based pest control. Consider the steps below:
- Use native plants, trees, and grasses.
- Fill cracks in walls and pavement.
- Keep vegetation at least 1 foot away from structures.
- Clean food-contaminated dishes right away.
- Clean garbage cans often.
- Make sure compost bins are properly maintained.
- National Coalition Against the Use of Pesticides: Beyond Pesticides
- National Coalition Against the Use of Pesticides: Gateway on Pesticide Hazards
- National Coalition Against the Use of Pesticides: Alternatives
- EPA: Pesticides
- EPA: Topical & Chemical Fact Sheets
- Pesticide Action Network: Pesticides Database
- Pesticide Education Center: Educational Materials
- Food and Agriculture Organization: Fertilizers as Water Pollutants
- EPA: Local Drinking Water Quality
- US Department of Agriculture: Water Quality Information Center
- National Institutes of Health: ToxNet
- Environmental Benefits and Cost Savings Calculator for Purchasers
- EPA: Pesticide Product Information System
- Penn State: Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management Program