Land managers often find it arduous to balance the need for effective weed and pest management with conserving the land’s valuable resources. It is not a secret that pesticides are full of chemicals and these are harmful to humans and animals alike. To reduce the negative environmental and health impacts, many cities and states are implementing stringent restrictions on the use of chemical pesticides in their parks and recreation departments.

Why Are Chemical Pesticides So Dangerous?

Since pesticides kill insect pests, such as the Japanese Beetle, imagine the effects of these chemicals in the human body. Aside from direct exposure to chemical pesticides, there is the danger of these chemicals leaching into the water supply.
When vast amounts of land are sprayed with pesticides, these chemicals sink deep into the ground and often find their way into the groundwater supply. Countless studies have linked pesticide exposure to cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and even ADHD. Because the dangers of chemical pesticides are so well documented, the Environmental Protection Agency is working at the federal level to control how people use pesticides.

Many Cities Are Leading the Way in Stringent Chemical Pesticide Restrictions

The EPA allows states to adopt their own chemical pesticide rules and regulations. Just like the EPA, states gain their power to put restrictions in place by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Many cities across the United States are becoming organic cities with no chemicals being used for weed or pest control. The following are some of the major cities that have adopted these stringent policies.

Tucson, Arizona
Several cities in California, including Burbank, Malibu, Laguna Hills, Novato, and San Clemente
Boulder, Colorado
Middletown and Oxford, Connecticut
Jupiter, Miami, and Stuart, Florida
Moscow, Idaho
Several cities in Illinois, including Franklin Park, Evanston, and Naperville
Story County, Iowa
Lawrence, Kansas
West Chester, Pennsylvania

There are at least twenty states that have begun the initiative to go as chemical free as possible. Even when handing invasive pests like Japanese Beetles, they use organic pesticides that are not harmful to the environment.

What Are the Benefits of Organic Pesticides?

With many cities across the United States now adopting organic pesticide laws, it makes sense this will eventually trickle down to the individual level. If a state’s park and recreation departments forbid chemical pesticides, it will not be long before the state and EPA step in to stop individuals from using them. There are many benefits to using Botanical Insecticides, including the following.

Botanical Insecticides are made from plant sources so they are not toxic to the environment. The main reason these natural insecticides are safer is because the components of these treatments break down into harmless compounds within minutes or hours of application.
Natural pesticides are chemically very close to the plants they derive from, so the soil can break them down without causing any toxic byproducts to develop.
Many city parks and recreation programs have found using these insecticides helps to reduce the costs of treating pests like Japanese Beetles.
Natural pesticides can target unwanted pests while being less harmful to beneficial insects. Creating the ideal balance between the protection of beneficial insect species, while eliminating unwanted pest insects is not always easy for parks and recreation departments.
Botanical Insecticides were widely used up until the 1940s when synthetic pesticides became available. Because of the dangers of synthetic chemical pesticides, botanical options are making a big comeback.

Most natural insecticides do not harm plant life and they are safe for humans and animals. Overall, using natural and organic means of insect elimination is safer for the environment. As with any pesticide, the products must be used according to exact instructions.

Choosing the Right Products Is Essential

Companies like Enviro Selects are leading the way in providing organic and natural products that reduce dangers to the environment and to your human health. Two of their proven and effective natural insecticides, Azaguard Insecticide and Bioceres WP are effective options that can be used in a variety of applications. These powerful broad-spectrum insecticides are both OMRI approved and safe for the environment, yet also powerful enough to kill many species of insects, including Aphids, Beetles, Sawflies, Webworms, and more.

Products like Zerotol Fungicide and Fiesta Herbicide can also be used to naturally keep parks and city land free of weeds and invasive algae to allow for healthy plant growth.


When these environmentally friendly products are used in conjunction with one another, parks and recreation departments can meet the stringent guidelines put forth at the state and federal level. These products help to ensure parklands are safer for wildlife and humans alike. Enviro Selects works diligently to ensure that all products they carry meet the guidelines set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.” — Dr. Vandana ShivaRegeneration International

Beginning almost two decades ago, a family-owned dairy farm belonging to Greg and Rachel Hart transitioned from conventional dairy farming to regenerative farming (Greenpeace New Zealand). Where typical farms maintain one or two animal species and a pasture of one or two crops for feed, the Harts maintain five animal species and twelve different crops for feed and other uses.

Large livestock like cattle graze an area first, followed by chickens which feed on remaining plants, spread manure as fertilizer, and pick out insects. Grazing areas alternate which allows for a layer of mulch to retain nutrients and protect against soil degradation and erosion. The Harts are free from using fertilizers or pesticides, cutting their costs dramatically. The Harts have also planted 105,000 trees in the past ten years for fruit, nuts, timber, and to regenerate native biodiversity. Their farm is now carbon-neutral with these trees off-setting their farm’s emissions. Additionally, the Harts built an “eco-lodge” where people can come to reconnect with nature, natural foods, and learn about regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative agriculture, sometimes called biodynamic farming or agroecology, is an increasingly popular practice among farmers, environmentalists, policymakers and international organizations worldwide; but what exactly is it? According to the Rodale Institute, regenerative agriculture includes several methods which must be practiced simultaneously. These methods include cover cropsmulchcompostcrop rotation, and conservation tillage (Rodale Institute). Further, regenerative agriculture rejects synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use and methods that disrupt soil life. The theory behind regenerative agriculture is to incorporate farming, recognized as a human intervention, into the natural ecosystem where various plants, insects, and animals interact. Unlike monoculture, this protects natural ecosystems and ensures the greatest environmental benefits while maintaining productive farms. Even more so than organic agriculture, which can still promote monoculture, regenerative agriculture benefits the farmer, the consumer, and the local ecology.

In general, primary environmental impacts of regenerative agriculture can include improved soil health, biomass and nutrient retention; improved root penetration and water infiltration; carbon sequestration; reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; and prevention from soil erosion, degradation, pests and diseases. Secondary environmental impacts can include biodiversity conservation, land regeneration, reforestation, and mitigation from and adaptation to climate change impacts. Apart from the environmental impacts that the Harts observe, their farm also employs twice as many people as conventional dairy farms, therefore benefitting the local community and economy.

There are even standards in place similar to organic standards or Fair Trade Certified standards. Demeter International is an organization that reviews and certifies products or supply chains that appropriately use regenerative or “biodynamic” agriculture methods. Demeter International standards do not permit synthetic nitrogen or phosphoric pesticides or fertilizers, or antimicrobials. Through on-site visits they regulate the production, processing, storage, packaging, and labelling of food, cosmetics, and textiles across sectors including agriculture, aquaculture, and bee-keeping.

This closed-loop system provides an alternative to conventional farming, where each aspect of the farm is a necessary resource that produces necessary outputs. Taking the Hart’s farm as example, a single chicken can be used to spread fertilizer and reduce pests. Its eggs can feed the Hart family, with its eggshells contributing to compost. Demeter International asserts, “Biodynamic farmers return more to the soil than they remove in the process of cultivating crops and animals; the farm is considered as an organism in which plants, animals, and human beings are integrated together” (Demeter International). For more success stories, refer to these 24 case studies of regenerative agriculture in action!

Deforestation is an environmental issue impacting every continent in the world. It can be linked to various causes, with various impacts. In the U.S., Russia, and China, forestry and wildfires are the top drivers (Mongabay, 2020). But these losses are minute compared to the destruction caused by industrial and small-scale agriculture. In fact, agriculture is the primary driver for deforestation. Worse, it disproportionately impacts communities in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Agriculture as a driver is usually two-fold; most cleared land is used for cattle farming, for both pasture and planting feed crops (usually soy). Second to cattle ranching, agricultural drivers include crops grown in tropical climates like soy, palm, coffee and cocoa, and logging for paper and pulp products. The production of these commodities is often tied to larger social and environmental issues, such as land tenure rights particularly among indigenous people, soil degradation, water pollution, wildlife destruction, and fertilizer and pesticide use.

Soil degradation in tropical forests is even more detrimental than that which can occur in temperate forests. Because of their dry and wet seasons (as opposed to warm and cold), tropical forests are constantly recycling nitrogen. There is actually very minimal amounts of nitrogen stored in the soil. Then, when forests are cleared, nutrients are easily removed because of increased runoff or uptake in crops.

This creates a cycle where arable land within tropical climates are constantly at risk for becoming completely fallow. This then contributes to fertilizer reliance, which similarly flows into waterways through runoff, resulting in water pollution. Clearing forests also contributes to climate change, both through releasing carbon sequestered in trees, and by reducing the capacity of carbon sequestration captured by forests.

You may be thinking, what does this have to do with me, or maybe even what can I do? Well, there are of course many things that could prevent deforestation such as stronger government-level policies restricting corporations, adopting agroforestry techniques, and protecting indigenous land rights. But even as Americans, seemingly far-removed from the problem, there are steps we can take. The majority of commodities like soy (not grown for cattle feed), palm, coffee, and cocoa, are used in supply chains by corporations that we rely on here in the U.S.

So, we can be educated on how we might be contributing to deforestation by supporting certain brands. Oxfam International tracks the supply chains of the ten largest, global corporations including PepsiCo, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé, and Associated British Foods. “…Nestlé and Unilever are currently performing better than the other companies, having developed and published more policies aimed at tackling social and environmental risks within their supply chains” (Oxfam, 2019). Some other corporations make a point to be transparent in their supply chains, such as Starbucks and Estée Lauder. By making small changes, like reaching out to a local cattle farmer for beef, instead of purchasing from the mainstream giants, we can impact the demand for deforestation.

Mutually beneficial relationships exist all throughout nature, between birds and insects, insects and flowers, flowers and your favorite garden veggies. Many of your garden veggies are also engaged with mycorrhizal fungi, a healthy fungus that transfers nutrients. There are some companion plant celebrities, like mustard that grows in the vineyards of California, or asters and goldenrod that seem to always find each other in a wildflower field. Regardless, there are often deep-rooted causes and impacts of these relationships.

Mustard plants are rich in phosphorus, and when they are tilled under, they provide necessary phosphorus levels for wine grapes that need it. Mustard seeds are also quite hearty, and can survive in dormancy for as much as twenty years (Sonoma County Tourism, 2020). Mustard also happens to have strong root systems, which protects against soil erosion. And lastly, the glucosinolate which makes mustard spicy and odorous protects vineyards against destructive nematodes (Sonoma County Tourism, 2020).

Asters and goldenrod have a completely different relationship. Each flower attracts pollinators, but often very different pollinators, contributing to their mutual proliferation when they accompany each other in a wildflower field. They are also natural deterrents for deer, host significant pest predators like spiders, praying mantis, and assassin bugs, and fight against powdery mildew and fungal and bacterial leaf spot (Trees for the Future, 2020).

For the purpose of your garden or farm, identifying these relationships among different crops and exploiting them is a great way to both uphold a quasi-natural ecosystem and promote crop health, grade, and yield. Intercropping in general naturally protects against pests as they are more likely to be confused by the combination of plants. And, some plants are better than others at being natural pesticides such as alyssum, nasturtium, marigolds, salvia, “spider flower” or cleome, camomile, garlic and herbs (particularly chives, rosemary, and mint). Many of these contain biofumigants like mustard does, naturally occurring smells that deter pests. Others, like cleome and marigolds to some extent, also have fuzzy or spiky textured foliage that pests can’t stand. There are also countless vegetable companions including, but not limited to: lettuce and mint (mint repels lettuce-loving slugs), spinach and peas (peas provide much needed shade for spinach), cabbage and rosemary (rosemary repels the cabbage fly), tomatoes and marigolds (marigolds repel hornworms and nematodes), radishes and cucumber (radishes repel beetles and aphids), and members of the cucurbit family and flowering plants (flowers help pollinate cucurbits) (Trees for the Future, 2020).

Similarly, some plants can stunt another’s growth or even be poisonous. Some can even attract arch enemies, such as tomatoes which attract corn worms and corn which attracts tomato worms (Trees for the Future, 2020). And, on the other end of the spectrum, there are ways to negatively reverse the relationship that two plants have. A study conducted by Florida International University showed that surplus nitrogen and phosphoric fertilizers resulted in less “sharing” between plants and other plants, plants and animals, and plants and bacteria or fungus (FIU, 2015). This went on to negatively impact plant growth, disease, drought, and food security (FIU, 2015). Therefore, it is critical to keep in mind how intercropping can potentially impact crop health for the worse, and how non-organic practices can be detrimental to positive plant relationships.

If you felt this past winter had especially memorable weather, know that it wasn’t only in your town. This past winter was filled with weather irregularities, including the warmest temperatures ever recorded in parts of Puerto Rico and Hawaii, the coldest temperatures recorded in parts of Alaska since 1989, below average temperatures in the Rockies, above average snow in the Rockies, well below average snow in the Sierra Nevadas, moderate drought in a third of California, and above average flooding in the Southeast (NOAA, 2020). California noted the driest February on record (with California still experiencing drought in April), putting it at greater risk for wildfires this summer (Bloomberg, 2020). With these major weather pattern changes attributed to global climate change, it’s important to keep in mind how this impacts agriculture, and vice versa.

California leads as the primary state for agriculture production in dairy products and crops, and coming in second only to Texas in livestock. Almost all of the almonds, pistachios, walnuts, stone fruit, olives, and most of the avocadoes, grapes, lemons, lettuce, tomatoes, and melons, are grown in California. California is also plagued with wildfires, earthquakes, mudslides, and floods. In California, and every arable state in the U.S., climate change can result in deforestation, biodiversity loss, soil erosion, land degradation, desertification, soil salinization, and ocean acidification. Further, agriculture and climate change are circular processes, where climate change makes weather patterns less reliable creating more difficult farming conditions resulting in greater fertilizer use, land use changes, and risks for farmers and consumers.

Pesticides that combat bacteria, fungi, mold and diseases have historically taken a heavy toll on the environment and consequently, our health and well being. For this reason, EnviroSelects strives to promote mainly organic-approved chemistries that are powerful and effective, yet safe for the environment, our families and pets.

To learn more about the inspiration behind the development of many of the residue-free fungicides, algaecides, herbicides and sanitizers we carry, check out this post from the founder of BioSafe Systems, Rob LaRose on why We Don’t Leave Footprints Behind.