Smarter Business: Greening Advisor
Pesticides contain a wide variety of harmful chemicals that can find their way into the natural environment, where they can cause a great deal of harm, particularly to aquatic ecosystems. Pesticides are also harmful to people, especially children. By reducing your company’s use of pesticides, and by buying less-harmful products, you help to reduce these risks.
Consider contacting your company’s current pest control suppliers to determine whether there are less harmful alternatives to the products your business is currently using. You may also want to consider adopting an integrated pest management strategy (outlined below) to prevent infestations before they start.
Also consider asking your current pest control suppliers to become certified and provide you with a certified service. Several credible certification programs are available, making it easier than ever before to contract for effective, environmentally friendly pest control services. NRDC recommends the following certification programs: EcoWise Certified, GreenPro Certified and Green Shield Certified.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach to pest management that incorporates aspects of a facility’s operation to help reduce the need for pesticides. IPM means preventing infestations before they start, and using pesticides only when necessary. There are various approaches that your company can adopt to decrease its reliance on chemical-based pest control. Consider the steps below, and consult the additional resources at the end of this section for more information.
- Use native plants, trees, and grasses.
- Fill cracks in walls and pavement.
- Keep vegetation at least 1 foot away from structures.
- Clean food-contaminated dishes right away.
- Clean garbage cans often.
- Make sure compost bins are properly maintained.
Consult the resources below for more information on IPM. Though many guides are aimed at schools, the principles can be easily applied to other buildings and businesses.
- EPA: Integrated Pest Management for Schools
- University of California Statewide IPM Program
- Green Shield Certified (Pest Management)
Pesticide Product Specifications
A wide range of pesticide chemicals exist, and most of them are potentially harmful to public health and the environment. The best strategy is to reduce the amount of pesticides your company uses. If you must use pesticides, keep in mind that some pesticides are less harmful than others. Consider avoiding those that are classified as carcinogens, reproductive or developmental toxins, endocrine disruptors, or neurotoxins.
Pesticide products are categorized by toxicity on a scale of I–IV, with the lowest numeral indicating the highest toxicity. Consider buying products categorized as III or IV, and avoid those categorized as I or II. Categories III and IV are labeled “Caution,” while Category II products carry the label “Warning” and Category I products are labeled “Danger.”
Sample Letter to Current Suppliers
Our company has initiated an effort to improve its environmental performance in all aspects of its operations. Because you are our supplier of pesticides and pest control services, we would like to meet with you to discuss this objective in more detail. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to less-harmful products within the next few years.
Pesticides and fertilizers can cause significant harm to public health and the environment. Most pesticides contain potentially toxic chemicals that can cause negative health effects such as cancer and neurological and reproductive disorders. In addition, pesticides can migrate into lakes and streams when it rains.
We would like to reduce as much as possible the harmful effects associated with our operations, and we would like to speak with you to ensure that the products we are purchasing do not contribute to these problems. In particular, we would like to talk to you about Green Shield Certified, a program that certifies environmentally preferable pest control companies.
We look forward to discussing this with you. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
- EPA: Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
- Beyond Pesticides
- Fact Sheets for individual pesticides
- Pesticide Alternatives
- EPA: Pesticides
- EPA: Fact sheets on specific pesticides
- Pesticide Action Network
- Pesticide Education Center
- Bay-Friendly Landscaping
- Environmental Benefits and Cost Savings Calculator for Purchasers
- EPA: Pesticide Product Information System
Consider asking your current pest control suppliers to become certified under the Green Shield Certified program, which certifies environmentally preferable pest control companies.
Let us know.