One day Natalie, a mom and nurse who lives in my town, called me, furious, and said that a truck with a tank had just sprayed her street with Rodeo (a glyphosate-based herbicide). She had a picture of the truck spraying that day, so we filed a complaint with the county agricultural commissioner and went to the Orange County Public Works with a binder of studies.
After one meeting and a few calls and emails, the manager agreed to propose alternatives. Since then, after a few meetings, our city has agreed to stop spraying glyphosate-based herbicides in residential neighborhoods. We are told that by July 2019 our city will have organic land care. Due to the efforts of many committed parents, my son’s entire school district has also agreed to use alternatives such as safer chemicals, mulch, and weed whacking. This was especially important to me because we noticed that he would have trouble breathing, and had asthma symptoms, after the city workers had sprayed Roundup on the hillsides by his school. It is terrifying to see your child having difficulty breathing. I am so grateful that his school district has discontinued the use of glyphosate herbicides.
Across the country, more than 200 cities, school districts, and homeowner's associations have stopped spraying glyphosate-based herbicides and many of them have moved completely to organic land care. All it takes is one person to say, "I am going to do this," and begin inviting other people to take action with them.
In a Chicago Tribune article in September 2017, Meg Hegarty wrote:
Meg Torres, a Naperville, Illinois resident and avid gardener, signed a petition to eliminate Roundup use in her town and believes using Roundup is an “old way of doing things. We need to do better, we need to find an alternative and be an example for other towns and cities when it comes to managing our landscape,” Torres said. “Most people are concerned about what this does to monarch butterflies and honeybees, but for me, it’s my kids, they’re the most important thing.
This Illinois citizen’s initiative was a success!
How Do You Have Your Town Go Toxin-Free?
Although it may seem like a daunting task, the reality is that many people have had their city or school district discontinue the use of toxic chemicals with only a few phone calls or meetings. Sometimes it takes a more concerted effort, but the point is to not give up. No one is going to do it for us. You don't have to know exactly how to do it, just get started. It can be done, has been done, and you can do it.
Below is an example of one solution for toxin-free land care: Steam weed control by WeedTechnics! Find out more here.
Here are just a few steps to take and ways that moms have reported to us that worked to get toxins out of their town.
- Find out who makes the decisions.
- Be friendly and get to know them—they are on your side!
- Ask what chemicals they spray (do not assume), and when. Get names of the chemicals and the dates in writing.
- Gather some brochures, studies, and a few friends.
- Ask for a meeting with the decision maker in person or speak during open comments at your city council meeting.
- Acknowledge them for all the work they do to care for and keep your city or school district safe. Let them see how they can be the town’s heroes!
- Present the information about why they need to stop spraying in a gracious, professional, and calm manner.
- Offer solutions such as steam, mulch, and others as found on www.moms- acrossamerica.com/toxin_free_town_campaign.
- Ask if they will review your information, start a committee to address the issue, and consider not spraying.
- Follow up with them and/or your city council or board and be grateful for progress and their time. This may mean you’ll have to speak at a city council or school board meeting, or it may not. Sometimes phone calls or petitions work, too.
- Celebrate any successes, small or big steps, far and wide to inspire others!
This blog was excerpted from UNSTOPPABLE: Transforming Sickness and Struggle into Triumph, Empowerment, and a Celebration of Community by Zen Honeycutt.