Pesticides are turning gardens into toxic environments.

  • Last updated: 16 September 2022

Supermarkets across the UK are being urged to remove harmful pesticides such as bug killers, lawn treatments and weed killers from their shelves over fears that gardens are being turned into toxic environments.

Use of common garden pesticides can cause anything from eye and skin irritation, breathing difficulties, nausea and vomiting. While research shows that long term exposure can lead to the development of cancer, Parkinson’s disease and asthma.

Now horticultural charity Garden Organic is backing a campaign by Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) to ban pesticides from large UK Supermarket shelves for good.

As well as affecting humans, insecticides kill off bugs that are a vital for pollination, as well as being a food source for other garden wildlife, such as birds, bats and ladybirds.

There have been huge declines in some animal populations linked to insecticide use. UK hedgehog numbers, for instance, have fallen from 30 million in the 1950s to an estimated one million today.

James Campbell from Garden Organic says:

Pesticides pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we consume.

Gardens are for growing in, but also for picnics, games, sunbathing and sipping drinks in. Why would you want to use anything that is sold with instructions to ‘Keep out of reach of children, wash hands thoroughly after use, wear protective gloves and eye/face protection’?

Gardens should be places where people, pets and wildlife can exist without being exposed to toxic chemicals. The risks associated with pesticides are far too plentiful, meaning that the products we buy from our supermarkets are doing more harm than good. We are backing the call for large supermarkets to end the sale of pesticide products. We want to ensure gardens remain natural habitats where life can thrive and garden users are not exposed to potential harm.

Garden Organic in conjunction with PAN UK is asking shoppers to show their support to the campaign by stopping the purchase of these pesticides. Also to add their voice to the battle by emailing their supermarkets and asking them to halt the sale of bug killers, lawn treatments and weed killers.

There are safe, environmentally friendly, organic alternatives to pesticides:

  • Instead of bug killers, use a jet of fresh water to dislodge black or green flies from plants, or pick them off yourself. Alternatively, wait for predators such as ladybirds, hoverflies and birds to deal with the problem for you.
  • Instead of lawn treatments, spike the lawn with a garden fork and brush some sand or potting compost over it to get a healthy green growth. This will also work to reduce moss (which usually arises from a drainage problem.) Alternatively, think of your organic lawn as a carpet containing different plants interwoven within the grass, giving a rich mix of colours and textures.
  • Instead of weed killers, many of which contain glyphosate which is potentially carcinogenic, remove weeds on hard surfaces with boiling water and fill the cracks with lime mortar to prevent them returning.
  • To clear a new bed of weeds, lay a thick layer (up to 25 cms) of compost mulch over the top. In six months, your soil will be enriched and easily manageable and persistent weeds can be pulled out with ease.

Find out how to garden organically can be found here.You can quickly and easily send an email to UK supermarkets asking them to stop selling pesticides.