The City of Providence and our partner Clean Water Action Rhode Island joined the third cohort of Healthy Babies Bright Futures’ (HBBF) Bright Cities program in September 2018. HBBF conducted a review of Providence’s policies and programs to recommend actions that can significantly reduce neurotoxic chemical exposures throughout the city. Key recommendations included incentivizing integrated pest management in public parks and green spaces and developing a public health education campaign promoting ways to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals.
In 2019 and 2020, with a grant from HBBF, the City partnered with the Audubon Society of Rhode Island to highlight the efforts of the Parks Department to limit exposure to chemical-heavy pesticide and fertilizer treatments as well as the use of unsafe building materials. With the Parks’ environmentally preferable practices as a best management practice, the City of Providence now launches the Pesticide-Free PVD campaign targeted at reducing the use of pesticides in residential lawns and gardens, as well as other toxins in the home.
Providence residents, as well as businesses, organizations, and institutions, are invited to consider the potential health impacts before reaching for chemicals in your lawn, garden, or home. Learn what it takes to build a healthy ecosystem without harmful fertilizers and pesticides and take the pledge to go pesticide-free in your lawn or garden.
Pesticides and Your Health
Before reaching for pesticides for your lawn, garden or home, consider the potential negative health impacts of such chemicals — on human health, on pets and other animals, on pollinators, other beneficial insects and birds, and on our waterways. The risk of health problems depends on how toxic the ingredients are, the amount of exposure to the product, and the duration and route of exposure. Potential methods of exposure include touching residue left on plants or soil, pesticide drift through the air, or leaching through the soil and being carried as runoff into groundwater and nearby waterways.
Pesticide-Free Lawn Care
First things first — get comfortable with imperfection! Mother Nature isn’t perfect. If you’re trying to capture a bit of nature in your yard, be ready to embrace all aspects of a healthy ecosystem. Insects and microorganisms create nutrient cycling and healthy soils without harmful fertilizers and pesticides. If you want an organic lawn, you’re going to have some weeds. You may need to put in some manual labor! Often, tackling a section of your lawn at a time can help. Can success for this year mean spreading compost and reseeding a quarter section of your yard?
Best Practices in Our Parks
The City of Providence’s Parks Department minimizes public exposure to toxic chemicals by reducing, and in many cases eliminating, the use of pesticides. The Department does not use pesticides as a regular part of their treatment plan for any parks or playgrounds in the city; they are only used sparingly as a last resort option. In the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, no pesticides are used and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques have been implemented with great success. Plans are in place to implement the successful IPM strategies throughout the City.
Top 10 Tips for a Pesticide-Free Lawn and Garden
Check out these top 10 tips for a pesticide-free lawn and garden, available in English and Spanish.
Take the Pledge
Take the pledge to maintain your lawn and garden without the use of pesticides or chemicals and receive a free yard sign for your home.
Pesticides in Your Home