Non-toxic weed-killers save taxpayer money, protect health

Letter from Ted Jankowski, seacoastonline (Portsmouth NH), Aug 20, 2017

The city of Portsmouth claims it’s too expensive to kill sidewalk weeds in a way that doesn’t endanger our health. I disagree.

Simple math shows that the city is shelling out 13 times more of our tax dollars to spread expensive, potentially carcinogenic toxins to kill weeds on our sidewalks and public places than it cost us for a simple homegrown vinegar-based natural alternative! And using an off the shelf organic product would cost about the same as the city is spending now – not 10 times more as the city has claimed.

Here’s the detail: In an April 2017 report to the City Council, our city public works department claimed that it tried the organic herbicide Avenger, but that a “major drawback” was that it cost “up to 10 times” the price of conventional herbicides like Roundup or Rodeo.

This got my financial brain working – 10 times more expensive? After four outrageously time-consuming Right-to-Know law requests – that made me wonder why I couldn’t easily get this information online on the city website – I finally found out in April the city used Roundup Pro Max to kill weeds in our public places. An online check of Walmart retail prices showed that this costs $45.53 a gallon. Meanwhile, a gallon of the organic weed-killer Avenger costs $51.30 – about $6 or just 13 percent more – but its application doesn’t require expensive licensed chemical folks, so using it would save money or break even – not cost 10 times more. So what gives?

Then I decided to compare the cost of the weed-killer the city is using on our sidewalks and public places with the homegrown “weed-killer” we (and many others) use to kill weeds on our brick patio and gravel driveway. We use a mix of one gallon of white vinegar, two cups of Epsom salts, and quarter-cup of dish detergent, which I used just last Sunday. Three days later, even with a little rain in-between, all the weeds were dead down to the roots! The Walmart online cost for this very effective weed-killer? Only $3.29 per gallon versus $45.53 per gallon for Roundup Pro. The city has also stated that Roundup only needs to be used twice a year, so it’s a better deal. Guess what? We only need to use our vinegar-based remedy twice a year too!

So the basic math? The city is spending at least 13 times more ($45.53 per gallon for Roundup, roughly the same as the organic product if you factor in application savings for that versus $3.39 per gallon for a simple vinegar-based method) – to spread dangerous toxins to kill weeds in our public places – when a simple natural alternative costs 13 times less. (And none of this even considers the potential health costs of any adverse effects of human or canine exposure to toxic weed-killers).

Now the real question is why haven’t eight of our nine city councilors done this basic math? I encourage the City Council to look at the overwhelming scientific data on the dangers of toxic weed-killers and the real costs of using them.

Please follow the lead of many U.S. cities and other countries and vote for the city to immediately stop using toxic synthetic chemicals on public property, encourage toxin-free property maintenance, and educate property-owners in safe, organic ways to care for our property. Let’s switch immediately to proven, safe, organic, sustainable ways to kill weeds.

Please help us protect our kids, our pets, and our taxpayers’ wallets by making Portsmouth a non-toxic community!

Ted Jankowski is a former Portsmouth deputy city manager and Portsmouth resident.

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West Chester educates the public about pesticides

by Alexa Brennan, The Quad, West Chester University, October 15, 2017

For decades American society has had a substance that could be sprayed on properties to decrease homeowners’ chances of contracting a mosquito-borne illness. However, this substance has met controversy as it could have long lasting negative effects on your health and other living beings, such as: bees, butterflies, dragonflies, cats, frogs, small children and hyper-allergic individuals. Given that risk, some argue that we shouldn’t spray. Don’t Spray Me is an organization in Chester County that fights to stop the use of dangerous pesticides; instead, they educate the community on safer and more effective means of controlling mosquitoes.

Throughout the Borough of West Chester, their lawn signage can be seen. It features a cartoon baby in a gas mask. When looking for a logo, Founder Margaret Hudgings wanted to find something that represented the dangers pesticide spraying had on children, so she searched Google Images for “baby in gas mask” and that image popped up. They got permission from Slovenian artist Daniel Ferencak to use his work, and that is how the baby in the gas mask came about.

Pesticide spraying can be life threatening. These pesticides have been linked with Autism, ADHD, Parkinsons and other kinds of cancers. Hudgings lost her son, Graham, to multiple chemical sensitivity due to spraying. “My son died five months ago after being sick for over 20 years from exposure to pesticide spraying,” said Hudgings. This has been a huge motivation for her and she is passionate about educating others….

read more at The Quad

Special feature: West Chester Food Co-op

The West Chester Food Co-op is working to build a member-owned (cooperative) full-service grocery store in West Chester.  The store will provide daily access to fresh, healthy, local food, and will be walkable for those in the Borough and have parking for those who don’t.

Cooperatives are businesses formed not to return profits to investors but to serve the needs of their members.  A cooperative offers our community the opportunity to build together something we all want.

The Food Co-op hired a consultant to produce an investment-grade projection of revenue for a store in our community; so we know it can work.  Read more here.

Cooperatives start through community support: many small investments from as broad a base as possible assure that the business reflects the community.  The Co-op is building that equity base right now.

The Food Co-op is more than a grocery store: its mission is to enhance the well-being of the people of West Chester by promoting healthy and mindful eating, improving access to sustainably produced food, helping those in need to secure quality food, advancing sustainable and humane agriculture, supporting local farms, and building community through cooperative enterprise.

The Co-op seeks to bring transparency and accountability to every step of the food production and distribution process from farm to table, providing confidence for educated consumer choice and food that the community can trust. Nutritious food is a gift to the health and well-being of an entire population.

Member-owners make a one-time $400 investment (there is an installment plan and gift certificates are available). The Co-op is nearing its target to move into the next phase of development; your investment can put them over the top.  See the timeline for project development here.

You may email the Co-op here or join on-line here.  Please support our friends and community!

Pesticide Hypersensitivity Registry and Application

Public and commercial spray operators are required to give advance notice of spraying to registered individuals. In addition, the Chester County Health Department grants registered hypersensitive individuals an exclusion zone around their residence to spare them from chemical exposure.

To register, download the form at the Penn State Extensionsite, print, fill out, and get physician’s signed approval.

Background info at Penn State Extension includes:

“The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) maintains a registry of individuals hypersensitive to pesticides. It is a listing of locations for people who have been verified by a physician to be excessively or abnormally sensitive to pesticides. These hypersensitive individuals may request to have listings of their home, place of employment, school (if a student), and vacation home placed in the Registry. A person will not be considered included in the Registry unless their name appears in the current published Registry.”

Add your name to demand the EPA stop Dow Chemical from poisoning our children!

Sign the petition here. Background there:

Public health advocates and the EPA have been pushing to ban the use of the harmful pesticide chlorpyrifos for years. But even with substantial evidence that chlorpyrifos can interfere with children’s brain development and expose farmworkers to serious health risks, Dow Chemical – a company that sells these harmful pesticides regardless of the dangerous consequences – has been pushing the Trump administration to ignore the facts and let this poisoning continue unchecked.

Now, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is siding with Dow instead of the American people, reversing a proposed ban to prevent the use of this hazardous chemical on our food. We can’t stand idly by as Dow Chemical buys its way into the ear of Donald Trump to keep destroying our people and our planet with these highly toxic chemicals.

Scientists agree this pesticide shouldn’t be anywhere near the foods we eat, and even doctors are speaking out against this dangerous decision. The EPA exists to protect Americans – but under Scott Pruitt, all it’s doing is protecting the profits of corporations like Dow at the expense of everyone else. We need 100,000 people to speak out and show the EPA that we won’t stand for this dangerous scheme.

Add your name to demand the EPA stop Dow Chemical from poisoning our children!

Sponsors:
Chispa
Daily Kos
Environmental Working Group
Friends of the Earth
League of Conservation Voters
Organic Consumers Association
Sierra Club
The Nation

Win a $100 voucher toward Food Co-op membership!

At the multi-sponsored environmental film showing on Oct. 12, DSM will raffle off a $100 voucher toward membership in our good ally the West Chester Food Co-op.

The raffle will be held at October 12 film screening. Tickets $2 ea or 3 for $5 will be available before the film. If you win and can’t use the $100 credit, you can give it to someone else: a nice present for a food-minded friend or relative!

Environmental Film Series: “Unacceptable Levels”

“Unacceptable Levels” (which should lead us all to scrutinize anew the pesticide residues in what we eat, drink, and breathe) was shown on Sept. 14, 2017, sponsored by the Sierra Club, Don’t Spray Me!, the WCU Sustainability Program, the WCU Geography & Planning Club, and 4CP, in memory of Graham Hudgings.

Included were an Introduction by State Rep. Carolyn Comitta and Q&A led by Dr. Joan Welch of WCU, as well as food and granting of awards by Dianne Herrin, chair of the West Chester Sustainability Advisory Committee. Photos by Taka Nagai: