Your Health and the Environment: Protecting Your Piece of the Planet
Growing Greener (Bugs and All)
A backyard garden is a great way to get connected to nature, save money, and
enjoy fresh, delicious food. You can grow greener by adopting a few of the
strategies organic farmers use to protect the land, says Shay.
What you can do:
- Throw out the welcome mat to friendly insects. Spiders, wasps, beetles, and
assassin bugs feed on pests, reducing the need for pesticides.
- Plant nectar-producing plants (anise, dill, thyme) for helpful insects to
feed on. Planting tropical milkweed or gaura plants invites insects that will
gobble aphids and other pests.
- Keep a birdbath or frequently sprinkle to provide a source of water. Use a
pump or "water wiggler" to agitate the water -- mosquitoes won't lay
eggs in moving water, and some bird-watchers believe ripples in the water
attract more birds.
We've been trained to think that pest-damaged produce is tainted or
contaminated. But "that's only because we've all grown up eating
pesticide-treated produce," says Shay.
A few bug-bite-sized holes in your tomatoes may take them out of blue-ribbon
territory, but they're fine to eat after a simple washing. "There's no
reason to grab a chemical sprayer seeking revenge," Shay quips.
Cutting down on insecticide use won't just clean up that abstract thing
called "the environment," adds McRandle. It also helps keep your house
clean. "Multiple studies show pesticides get tracked into the home, and end
up on floors and countertops," he says.
Still stuck with some household hazardous waste you can't get rid of?
McRandle advises checking out earth911.org. "They have information there
about disposing of just about anything, zeroed in on your ZIP code," he
says. They make it easy for you."