If you could wave a magic wand over the world and turn a toxic product into a pure, eco-friendly version, what would you transform first? For me, my number one choice would be pesticides. Hands down. My reason does have a lot to do with the fact that I was severely poisoned by organophosphate pesticides in 1980 and was in the hospital for three months.
What I’ve learned about pesticides (try birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects), has made me want to, well, wave a magic wand over the world and remove them, especially those freshly applied around children. I would start with weed and bug killers — chemicals with half-lives of hundreds of thousands of years — and the ones impregnated in the structure of homes.
Here are 5 ways to choose healthier alternatives to toxic lawn and garden chemicals this year:
1. D-limonene — an extract of citrus peel — kills fleas at all stages of development, and ants tend to die in its presence, too. Find a d-limonene product such as Citra Solv, pour ¼ cup in a gallon of water, and wash the floor when fleas are present. Pour some of the mixture into a clean spray bottle, and spray on bedding. Note that cats are sensitive to d-limonene.
2. Mix borax and sugar to attract and kill sugar ants. Combine equal amounts of borax and sugar in a small glass jar, add water to cover, screw on the lid and punch holes in it for the ants to enter, and set in places ants tend to frequent.
3. Carbon dioxide is the new trick for controlling ticks and mosquitoes. These blood-sucking bugs are drawn to the carbon dioxide — released every time we breathe–and it is thus a great lure to trap them. Carbon dioxide based bug-control devices are fantastic for those living in tick havens, such as in the Northeast, as it draws the ticks out of the grasses and bushes into the trap. What better thing to have to keep your yard free of ticks and mosquitoes?
4. Make your own soap spray to control garden pests by combining 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid soap to 1 quart of water in a bucket. Make sure that what you buy is a liquid soap and not a detergent. (Health food stores have liquid soaps, such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soaps.) Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use as needed.
5. Make your own homemade fly paper by mixing ¼ cup corn syrup (yes, there is a good reason for using corn syrup!) and ½ cup sugar. Cut 4 or 5 long strips about 2 inches wide from brown paper bags. Mix the ingredients in a bowl and spread it on the strips with a knife. Hang the strips over a bowl to catch drips.