Pollution prevention and you in the yard

Pollution Prevention and You in the Yard

Pollution prevention, also known as P2, happens when people change their plans, practices and habits in order to reduce the generation of pollution and waste at the source, instead of trying to clean it up after the fact. Pollution prevention also includes activities that protect natural resources (i.e. trees, water) through conservation or more efficient use of resources.

The key to environmental sustainability is thinking globally and acting locally. Pollution prevention is about making smart choices - both in what we buy and in how we use products. It involves looking at the causes of waste and pollution and figuring out how to prevent them.

Your yard may look green, but is it really "green"? There are many environmentally friendly alternatives to commercial garden supplies. Implementing some new practices in the yard will help you to save water and prevent pollution from ending up in our air, water, and soil.

Here are a few tips on how you can make your yard "greener."

Save water

  • Only water your lawn and garden when absolutely necessary.
  • Avoid over-watering your lawn and garden. The soil in your lawn and garden cannot store moisture for long periods of time.
  • To reduce water loss due to evaporation, ensure that watering is done during the coolest part of the day and on days without wind.
  • Be sure to position your sprinklers and hoses so that you are not watering driveways, sidewalks, or streets.
  • If you will be away during the watering, set a timer on your sprinklers for automatic shut off.
  • Rainwater collected in a bucket can be used to water your garden.
  • Ensure that outdoor taps are shut off tightly.
  • Regularly inspect outdoor taps for leaks.
  • Tall grass holds water better. Do not cut the grass too short.
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn so that the nutrients in the blades are returned to the soil. If you must remove clippings, place the cut grass (or wood chips) around plants and trees to help to retain moisture.
  • Instead of hosing down sidewalks and driveways, sweep away dirt and grass clippings.

In the garden

  • Try to avoid using pesticides. There are less harmful ways to control insects and weeds. For example, try attracting beneficial insects (like ladybugs) to your garden to eat unwanted insects. If you have a pond or water feature in your yard, add a couple of fish to the water that will eat the larvae before mosquitoes can emerge.
  • Dig out weeds in the garden by hand.
  • Regularly hoe your garden to control weeds.
  • Try getting rid of insects by hosing plants and trees with strong bursts of water.
  • Avoid the use of pesticides by rotating plant species in your garden. This will discourage insects from settling in and will help to prevent soil diseases.
  • Get rid of insects by using insecticidal soaps.
  • If it is necessary that you use pesticides, look for natural products that are biodegradable, and only apply them to areas that need it.

Around the yard

  • Plant as many indigenous trees and plants as you can. The trees absorb carbon dioxide, which slows down the greenhouse effect.
  • Create or purchase a compost bin. If you do not want to create a compost pile of your own, ask around to find out if a neighbour would appreciate any contributions to their compost area.
  • Encourage your municipality to initiate a wet waste pickup that will be composted.
  • Ensure that any lawn maintenance contractors that you hire use only environmentally friendly techniques and will not use any pesticides or other chemicals without your consent prior to application.
  • During winter months, use sand or other salt alternative on sidewalks and driveways instead of salt.
  • Reduce air and noise pollution by using a push mower to cut your grass. You’ll also get more exercise!
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