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I Love Long Island: Water Protection Groups Campaign to Curb Use of Toxic Lawn Pesticides and High N

Rachel Carson warned that we were poisoning ourselves in her 1962 groundbreaking book about pesticides and herbicides, “Silent Spring.”

Shockingly, courtesy of chemical companies who place profit over people & planet, we continue to poison the environment with herbicides and pesticides.

According to the Yale University study “Redesigning the American Lawn,” Americans dump close to one billion dollars worth of chemicals—more than 67 million pounds of synthetic pesticides—on U.S. lawns.

The National Academy of Sciences reports that lawn use is a significant component of the total pesticide problem. Although farmers use pesticides more widely, homeowners use 10 times more per acre than do farmers.

Luckily, we're not all so silent anymore.

I Love Long Island was initiated by a broad coalition of non-profit and community groups to reduce the use of chemical pesticides and high nitrogen fertilizers on Long Island. It's a multi-dimensional program that includes yard signs for homeowners, in-store signage for participating retailers, and a Pledge not to use pesticides or high nitrogen fertilizers.

“People need to understand that going chemical-free doesn’t mean sacrificing a beautiful lawn and landscape,” says Edwina von Gal, founder and President of the Perfect Earth Project. “We’ve proven that anyone can create a landscape that is not only aesthetically appealing, but also completely safe for people, pets and the environment.”

The web site for the campaign shows you how to maintain your lawn naturally, has links to natural landscapers that don't use harmful products, and has a list of retailers that sell non-toxic natural lawn products.

"We know that what we put on our lawns goes into our groundwater, and eventually into our drinking water and our bays, rivers and ponds. Pesticides are toxic by definition, and lawn fertilizers contribute to the devastating algal blooms and fish kills we're seeing around Long Island," says Marshall Brown, President of Save the Great South Bay and one of the architects of the campaign. "We're asking people to take the simple step of eliminating those pollutants at their source - their lawns."

Monsanto's infamous "Roundup" weedkiller, found widely in U.S. Stores, has been banned in countries including France and the Netherlands because it is considered a probable carcinogen. Just because our government lacks the moral fiber to ban the use of toxic chemicals for lawns and gardens, it does not mean we can't band together and stop using harmful products and urge others to join us.

"We know that pesticides are harmful to everyone, especially children and pets, and excess nitrogen is contaminating our water," says Patti Wood, Executive Director of Grassroots Environmental Education, one of the originating sponsors of the campaign. "We don't need to raise millions of dollars or wait for legislation to fix this part of our water problem. This is something we can do right now."

Yes we can, and if we don't, we are complicit in the poisoning of ourselves, friends, family and neighbors. We can vote on election day and with our wallets every day.

I Love Long Island reports: "Documented cases of pesticides in Long Island groundwater wells are suspect for cancer clusters showing up in many towns, according to reports from the New York Attorney General’s office which also reported, that after the herbicide Dacthal was applied to Long Island golf courses, it was detected in drinking-water wells at levels 20 times the State’s safety limit. So far, 22 other pesticides have been found in the water as well. At the time of the report, the Chief Environmental Scientist for the New York State Attorney General was quoted in the article, Pesticides: The Killing Fields, as saying”...“If you buy the notion that we have to accept a certain amount of risk from pesticides to safeguard the food supply, that’s one thing. But with lawns, people are applying carcinogens simply for the sake of aesthetics. That’s got to change.”

And we all know the famous Mahatma Gandhi quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world" There is no time for excuses.

Copyright Paul E McGinniss 2017

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