According to the EPA, American homeowners, businesses, schools, and park districts apply approximately 89 million pounds of weed and feed products for their lawns each year. While pesticides target the insects, plants, fungi and animals we want to eliminate, they do not eliminate these pests with 100 percent effectiveness and also can harm beneficial insects, wildlife, pets and even ourselves.
Scientific evidence links exposure to lawn pesticides and herbicides to a host of health hazards from asthma and ADHD in children, to cancer and reproductive problems. Additionally, stormwater runoff can carry synthetic pesticides and fertilizers into our vital water ecosystems threatening our drinking water and aquatic wildlife.
At the urging of Cool Cities and Midwest Pesticide Action Center (MPAC), the Elmhurst Park District has deemed Van Voorst Park (2016) and Marjorie Davis (2019) as organic parks, will eliminate broadleaf pesticide application from 30 acres of park space, and has eliminated glyphosate use from all green spaces. The Park District is also developing an updated Integrated Pest Management plan which adheres to the Vision 2020 initiative of improving park maintenance.
Parks Division staff manage weed and pest problems at both parks with cultural and mechanical controls including mowing at higher heights (3 inches), aerating, over-seeding and physical weed removal.
Lawns comprise nearly one-quarter of urban and suburban landscapes. Caring for them responsibly by limiting the amount of water, fertilizers and pesticides we apply can have a huge impact on our health and environment. Our friends at MPAC provide useful tips on how to start making changes in your own backyard, including a Natural Lawn Care Calendar for Homeowners and their Guide to Growing Environmentally-Friendly Lawns and Gardens. Better yet, follow our Start In Your Yard efforts to reduce the amount of grass in your yard by replacing it with native plants!
To bring more pesticide-free parks and green spaces to Elmhurst:
TAKE THE PLEDGE to go pesticide-free on your own lawn and garden. Visit bit.ly/MGGpledge to sign the pledge and learn more about natural lawn care. It only takes a minute to sign the pledge, and by doing so, you are committing to reduce the negative health effects pesticides have on humans, pets and wildlife.
JOIN THE NON TOXIC ELMHURST FACEBOOK PAGE to learn more about the efforts being made in Elmhurst to reduce and eliminate pesticide use.
CONTACT DECISION-MAKERS at the Elmhurst Park District, school district(s) and City to encourage more pesticide-free spaces.
For the City of Elmhurst: Email Howard Killian, Director of Public Works, firstname.lastname@example.org AND your aldermen. Aldermen email addresses are typically email@example.com.
For the Elmhurst Park District: Email Dan Payne, Division Manager of Parks, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For District 205: Email Todd Schmidt, Director of Facilities, email@example.com; Chris Whelton, Asst Superintendent for Finance and Operations, firstname.lastname@example.org; Kara Caforio, D205 School Board President, email@example.com.
SIGN UP to receive our e-newsletter and get regular updates on future pesticide action items: firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: subscribe.
With community support, Cool Cities will continue to approach these organizations to ask for their commitment to go pesticide-free.
For more information on MPAC, visit midwestpesticideaction.org.