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News: The GCA Steps Up Efforts to Reduce Pesticide Use on Lawns


August 20, 2020

New York Times Cites the GCA’s Project

It has been one year since The Garden Club of America (GCA) collaborated with The Great Healthy Yard Project (TGHYP) to launch “Take the Pledge,” an educational campaign to encourage homeowners to reduce pesticide use on their lawns and gardens. With the pledge, homeowners are asked to help protect our drinking water and critical ecosystems by eliminating the use of synthetic chemicals, weed-killers and fertilizers on lawns, and by curtailing the practice of discarding pharmaceuticals and chemicals  down drains. At this point, 2,486 Americans have taken the pledge. 

Since national stream tests show that major waterways supplying our drinking water are contaminated with pesticides and fertilizers, the GCA has decided to step-up its “Take the Pledge” efforts and will target areas near U.S. watersheds. In collaboration with the TGHYP, GCA member clubs will begin with a focus on the Mississippi River Watershed, which supplies drinking water to more than 70 cities and reaches into 32 states, also impacting the Mississippi Gulf.

Dr. Diane Lewis, founder of The Great Healthy Yard Project and member of the Bedford Garden Club, said, “Clubs in 20 states in the Mississippi Watershed will join efforts to educate the public about the dangers of lawn and garden chemicals and how to garden without them. The clubs plan to show how to have beautiful yards with native plants, and they will hope to inspire members and their communities to adopt the practices of the Healthy Yard Pledge.” 

Lawn and garden pesticides and those used in farming wash into drains and are the most widespread source of water pollution, research shows. Pesticides cannot be filtered out of water and can make a huge difference to our health and that of songbirds and insects that support our very existence through pollination. 

In a recent New York Times piece entitled “America’s Killer Lawns,” opinion writer, Margaret Renkl stated, “It can make a huge difference to our own health, too: As The Garden Club of America notes in its Great Healthy Yard Project, synthetic pesticides are endocrine disruptors linked to an array of human health problems, including autism, A.D.H.D., diabetes, and cancer. So many people have invested so completely in the chemical control of the outdoors that every subdivision in this country might as well be declared a Superfund site.”

The only way to prevent pesticides from getting into our water supply is to not use them. By deciding to “Take the Pledge,” everyone can make a difference.

Read the GCA Policy Paper on clean drinking water.

Although kickoff of the initiative has been temporarily delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, preparation and planning are underway.

Endless possibilities! Two views of a garden in Jackson, Mississippi that is free of synthetic chemicals, weed-killers and fertilizers.  



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