In Your Yard and Garden

Your chemical habits in your yard and garden not only affect you while outdoors, but they affect your indoor environment as well, as toxics have multiple entryways into homes.

  • Use organic products and practices for gardening and lawn care, and ensure that any professional care service you employ also takes the organic route. Pesticides and herbicides used on gardens and lawns can be tracked into the home on the bottom of shoes and by pets. Children and pets that play on the lawn can be exposed, and the chemicals can leach into waterways and drinking water wells. For more information on how to practice less toxic plant care, visit the IPMopedia website.
     
  • Fight weeds without resorting to herbicides. Instead, prevent weeds by planting groundcover on open spaces and control weeds by pulling them out, spraying them with vinegar, or coating them with soapy water.
     
  • Practice companion planting, a technique that pairs plants to enhance plant growth and repel harmful insects naturally. For more information, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website.
     
  • Encourage your neighbors to use organic practices. Educate them about the dangers of pesticides and herbicides.
     
  • Take advantage of block parties—or organize “green” block parties—to introduce your neighbors to safer alternatives to pesticides and herbicides. Not only is it the neighborly thing to do, but you and your family will reap the benefits as well.
     
  • Do not resort to burn barrels. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, open burning of household waste in barrels is one of the largest sources of airborne dioxin and furan emissions in the United States.
     
  • Have your soil tested for toxics, especially before planting a vegetable garden. Contact your local agricultural agency for more information.
     
  • Replace your gasoline-powered lawnmower, leaf blower, and snow blower. Gasoline-powered lawnmowers, for example, emit disproportionate amounts of pollution as they tend to lack emissions equipment. Choose an electric lawnmower or, for an extra workout, use a push lawnmower. And replace gasoline-powered leaf blowers and snow blowers with electric ones or—better yet—use human-powered tools, the rake and shovel.
     
  • Curtail car exhaust. The exhaust from cars and buses releases mammary carcinogens into the air. Using less-polluting alternatives will both improve air quality and lower your exposure. As much as possible, carpool or take public transportation. If you're planning to buy a car, consider a fuel-efficient model.
  • Work with your building manager to address pests. If you live in an apartment building, talk to your building manager about using integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is an approach to solving pest problems in a way that minimizes the risks to people’s health while reducing impacts on the environment.
  • Check out our Detox Me app for more tips on taking action in your yard and garden.

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