Lets make our green spaces truly green and clean

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The other day my husband overheard a customer in a hardware store ask with some frustration, "What can I do to eradicate those pesky dandelions in my yard for good?" My husband didn't hear the answer. Knowing how I feel about dandelions, he did tell me of this incidence. As predicted by him, my immediate reaction was, "you should have told the person that dandelions are not the enemy, that they are healthy for humans and hugely beneficial for our endangered pollinators!"

Other reactions and questions followed: does this customer have children, pets? Does this person know that they will be endangered if the substance used to eradicate those dandelions is a potentially hazardous, synthetic pesticide? Is this person's yard in my neighborhood where it can affect my lawn, the well water? Are this person's neighbors going to be notified of the application of the herbicide? Do any of us know what our neighbors use on their dandelion-free lawns? Are we informed about how our town parks and recreation areas are treated? And if any of you reading these lines are using synthetic pesticides in your own yards, do you know whether the ingredients are harmful or not, and that there could be consequences affecting the well-being of your children, your grandchildren, your pets, and yourselves?

New studies are coming out that glyphosate-containing herbicides are a cause of concern for the health of our environment — our soil and water — and for all of us who are exposed to their residues.

Most of us have read or heard that our bees and beneficial pollinators are disappearing due to the increased and pervasive use of pesticides that are readily available. Insects are vulnerable to these toxins, and so are our children when they are exposed to them in gardens, homes, and playgrounds. Pesticides can drift and are tracked into homes through clothes and shoes worn in treated areas. Pesticides that could break down in sunlight can remain active inside homes for months, according to information found on the website of Grassroots Environmental Education.

This organization (www.grassrootsinfo.org) warns that children are most vulnerable to toxic contacts because their immune systems are not fully developed and they are typically closer to the ground while playing on lawns and floors. According to another organization, Toxics Action Center (www.toxicsaction.org), "Childhood exposure to some of the most common pesticides may greatly impact the development of the central nervous system."

Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, director of the Center for Children's Health and the Environment, at Mount Sinai School of Medicine says this: "Every day of every week we are continuing in this country to expose children to chemicals whose toxicity is simply not known. As a pediatrician I urge parents to think carefully about the choices they make, especially about pesticides."

Grassroots Environmental Education, one of many organizations, gives advice on step-by-step natural lawn care. Their premise is that "The use of pesticides which destroys beneficial organisms in the soil is contrary to the basic concepts of growing and maintaining beautiful healthy lawns."

They suggest simple ways to minimize weeds while also promoting healthy lawns where children can play safely and the environment is protected. They suggest ways to feed the grass, offer advice on re-seeding annually and on how to mow and water. There are "green" recipes for ways to treat the unwanted weeds. Talk to your schools, your town officials, your golf club managers, your neighbors and ask questions about their garden and lawn care practices. Discover and discuss ways to treat lawns and gardens with non-toxic alternatives. Some landscape management companies offer organic treatments.

Join the advocates for a healthier environment in which our children and all of nature can thrive. Let's make our green spaces clean and green. On ongoing Education Project of Transition Town Manchester.

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