Friday, September 30, 2011

Scarborough, Maine Bans Pesticides on Town Property

Earlier this year, on several occasions, I discussed the widespread use of chemical pesticides as "beautifying agents for private and public lawns."

Some states—including New York—have taken steps to limit our vulnerable children's exposure to these dangerous and superfluous chemicals, but, for the most part, the created ideal of lush, unblemished green spaces holds sway. I'll ask the question again: "What price are we willing to pay to eradicate every dandelion?"

As we become more knowledgeable about the subject in the United States, slow change is following, albeit on a very, very local level. (That being said, Canada now has provincial laws governing pesticide use, 20 years after its first municipal ban.)

The latest town to act is Scarborough, ME, which last week banned the use of synthetic chemical pesticides on town property. This was small-town politics at its best, with the group Citizens for a Green Scarborough instrumental in the decision. Support came from Marsha Smith and Citizens for a Green Camden; they won a similar battle in Camden three years ago.

To paraphrase Tip O'Neill, "All pesticide politics is local, especially because the big chemical and lawn care companies want to preserve the status quo."

Need further proof that a handful of strong voices can make a difference? Click here to read what happened in Highland Park, IL when the local government tried to use pesticides at three parks. Pay attention to the number of emails and signatures it took to cause change. Don't think your voice is mute!

1 comment:

Susan DeWitt Wilder said...

We're thrilled here in Scarborough at the passage of the new policy. This was a year-long effort and we were never sure of success. We received help from Toxics Action, New England Grassroots Environmental Fund, Paul Tukey, and a strongly committed town councilor, Karen D'Andrea. Want to make it happen in your town? We'll share:
Susan DeWitt Wilder