Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides for a Healthier Environment & You
The term “pesticide” is a broad term used to describe something that keeps away pests and other unwanted substances from gardens, lawns, farms, and other places where flowers, plants, fruits, vegetables, and other crops are grown. Insecticides (deter insects and other bugs), herbicides (deter weeds and other unwanted plants), and fungicides (deter fungi and bacteria) are all different types of pesticides.
It’s important to know that most pesticides are chemical-based to perform better, but the majority of these chemicals are harmful to the environment and to humans. Most people believe that physical contact with these chemicals in pesticides is what can cause harm, but they can also cause harm when they’re inhaled and trace amounts can be left on the food we consume. So how do we keep pests away and reduce our contact with these pesticides?
Buy Green Pesticides
This is probably the easiest and most common alternative to traditional, chemical-based pesticides. Just like there are green household cleaning products, there are green pesticides that can be used to keep pests away from crops. The term “green” usually refers to a product being environmentally friendly, but it also means that there are less dangerous chemicals in the product, which also means that it’s less dangerous to humans. You can find these green pesticides at retailers like Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart.
Create Your Own Pesticides
Unfortunately, like natural cleaning products, natural pesticides tend to be more expensive than their chemical-based counterparts, and it may be difficult to find them at all. This is why many people choose to create their own, homemade pesticides for their lawn care needs and to keep the food in their garden as organic as possible. It’s important to note here that foods labeled “organic” in grocery stores aren’t always 100% organic, which is why many people choose to grow their own food.
Some of the best natural remedies for getting rid of pests include:
- Baking soda
- Carrier oils
- Dish soap
- Essential oils
- Flowers and other plants
If you’re worried about fungi and bacteria lurking in your soil that can be harmful to your crops, try mixing baking soda, dish soap, and water in a spray bottle. Baking soda is also highly alkaline, meaning it can balance out very acidic soil.
Jojoba oil (obtained from jojoba seeds) is an all-natural carrier oil that’s also an effective fungicide. Mineral oil is another oil that’s used as an insecticide, and neem oil is a prime ingredient in many natural pesticides that you can find in stores.
Essential oils are known for “curing” everything from a headache to acne, and they’re also effective pesticides. Cinnamon works as a great insecticide and fungicide, while citrus oils and eucalyptus oil are good at deterring a variety of insects and bugs.
Food and Beverages
If you don’t have any carrier oils or essential oils, no worries! You may have something else in your home that will deter pests. For example, milk (diluted with water) can help prevent mold and mildew in plants, and chrysanthemum flower tea is one of the most effective insecticides. Garlic, onions, and Himalayan Pink Salt are also effective pesticides, and vinegar is often used to kill weeds.
How Natural Alternatives Impact Your Health
As mentioned earlier, using natural pesticides in your own garden keeps your food organic. Using natural herbicides for lawn care can also be beneficial to your health, since chemical-based herbicides can also pose a threat to human health. The well-known herbicide chemical Paraquat has been linked to Parkinson’s disease developing in those who have had constant exposure to the herbicide. Paraquat and other herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides have also been linked to:
- Birth defects
- Cancer (various types)
- Reproductive harm
Switching to natural alternatives for herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides will greatly decrease your chances of both acute and chronic effects of chemical-based pesticides.
Going green doesn’t just benefit the environment— it has positive effects on human health as well. Unfortunately, not all crops are treated with natural pesticides, and even some “organic” foods may have trace amounts of pesticides and other harmful materials on them. The good news is that these trace amounts of chemicals aren’t as harmful to human health as being constantly exposed to chemical-based pesticides, whether directly or indirectly.
If you’ve been using chemical-based pesticides, try these natural alternatives. Also, talk to a healthcare professional if you believe you’ve been exposed to and harmed by these chemical-based pesticides.