Just as we make choices every day about what to eat, we can make healthy choices regarding the commonly used chemicals in our everyday lives.
Did you know that chemical pesticides listed as organic can still be toxic or hazardous depending on the level of exposure? And did you know that exposure to pesticides is one of the leading causes of death by self-poisoning? This story serves to introduce you to a variety of pest control alternatives to the very common, potentially harmful, chemical pesticides that you might otherwise use to kill a bees nest on your porch or to take care of an infestation of fruit flies in your home.
First, let’s begin with a very brief history of chemical pesticides.
Alpha hexachlorocyclohexane; Beta hexachlorocyclohexane; Chlordecone;
Hexabromobiphenyl; Lindane; Pentachlorobenzene; Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid;
Tetrabromodiphenyl ether; Pentabromodiphenyl ether; Technical endosulfan;
Hexabromocyclododecane; Hexachlorobutadiene; Pentachlorophenol;
For over 100 years, humans around the world have been exposed to the chemicals above and countless others. These chemicals, known as pesticides, are used to prevent plants, fungi, insects and animals from eating and destroying crops. The risks of exposure to chemical pesticides were first publicized in Rachel Carson’s 1962 novel Silent Spring, which called into question the health concerns with Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, (also known as DDT), a pesticide used frequently on crops and in homes. Since then, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has outlawed a variety of chemical pesticides, including DDT. Furthermore, a number of other pesticides with known carcinogenic or highly toxic properties have been outlawed internationally by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), as outlined in the 2001 Stockholm Convention.
Keeping in mind the complicated history of chemical pesticides, it is easy to see the benefits both to the environment and to the human body of creating safe pesticide alternatives.
Here are 7 simple alternatives that you can use at home.
For gardens or planters:
Fencing - Building a fence or another physical barrier is an effective way to keep larger animals at bay.
Human Hair - Many pests are unnerved or confused by human scents. Placing human hair near your crop will help to keep away animals. Gather human hair in a breathable container such as pantyhose, and line your garden.
Hanging CDs - Hanging CDs near your crop can mimic the threat of a predatory animal, keeping away larger animals such as deer and pillaging birds. The reflection of light as the wind turns the discs can give off the impression of a predatory movement.
Make a Hot Sauce Spray - Functioning like a chemical pesticide, a diluted natural hot sauce can keep insects at bay and won’t harm you, your crop, or your soil.
Ingredients: 6 cloves garlic 1 Tbsp dried hot pepper 1 minced onion 1 tsp pure soap (not detergent) 1 gallon hot water Blend ingredients and allow to sit for 1-2 days. Use a spray bottle to apply to your plants.
In your home:
Soapy Water - Rather than spray a harmful chemical inside a confined space, spray intruders, such as ants or cockroaches, with soapy water.
Indoor Ant Traps - Mix together one-half tsp of honey, borax and a natural sugar in small bottles. Place the bottles near the ants.
Sachets - To keep a variety of insects at bay, stuff sachets (or small bags) made of cheesecloth and place them in areas where the insects are a problem... For Flies - stuff sachets with leaves, eucalyptus oil, cloves and dried basil leaves. For Moths - stuff sachets with cedar chips or material covered in cedar oil. For Cockroaches - stuff sachets with dried catnip.
Just as we make choices every day about what to eat, we can make healthy choices regarding the commonly used chemicals in our everyday lives. With this in mind, the next time you are combated with ants in your home, or a rabbit that loves to gnaw on your lettuce plant, consider a pesticide alternative that is both safe for you and for the environment around you.
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GC Content Writer: Marissa Lazaroff