August 17, 2011

Boulder Property Management Companies Love Monsanto. ~ Alli Barocas

Photo: Sierra Tierra

Adults, Students, Children, Dogs; Not So Much…

Just a few weeks ago Waylon, founder of elephant journal, took his dog outside his home for a walk as he does every morning. He was approached by a landscaper wearing a mask who warned him that the weed-killer being used on the adjacent lawn was poisonous to dogs and he should keep his dog away from it.

The weed-killer is Monsanto Roundup and the landscaper was from Four Star Realty, a property management company that rents out nearly 400 homes in Boulder.

As most of us know, Monsanto is a pretty evil company and the active ingredient in their product, glyphosate, is terrible for the environment as well as human health—side effects include birth defects,endocrine disruption and cancer.

Yet, our property management companies still choose to use this weed killer above all others. And, in Boulder nonetheless—a city well known for its eco-conscious, yoga-practicing, veggie-eating, farmer’s market-shopping residents? This is a shock to me, to say the least, considering that just this past May Boulder stopped using Roundup in public spaces.

Photo: MsBarrows

Check out the article here.

So, why do we do it? Well, the short answer is that it’s cheap and powerfully effective.

After hearing about this widespread and harmful practice, elephant journal was really interested in shedding light on the property management companies in Boulder that use eco-responsible gardening—practices that are not only good for the earth, but for the people and the animals in our community.

We did some searching, but it was to little avail.

After emailing a number of property management companies, including Boulder Property Management, Fowler Property Management, Sunny Side Realty and Mock Property Management, to ask about their eco-practices (whether or not the herbicides and pesticides being used are harmful to the community and if the company would switch an effective eco-alternative) only one gave a statement off the record:

I totally support the use of organic fertilizers, weed and insect control, but many of my client owners and Boards of Directors do not agree and are not willing to live with weeds or pay the higher cost of manual weeding and/or 100% organics.  We present them with all the state-of-the-art options, but these decisions are always ultimately theirs.

We truly appreciate this prompt and honest response. And, we really hope we get more just like them.

But, in the mean time, we should all take action to ask the property management companies we rent from how they are taking care of our lawns. If their practices are not eco-friendly, encourage them to make the change.

I created a petition to stop Four Star Realty from using Monsanto Roundup. If you want to be part of the change in our community,  please sign it. If enough renters and residents of Boulder can urge this type of action, we could make a huge difference in Boulder.

There are a number of alternatives to poisonous weed-killers:

Photo: Lynn Newsome

Does anyone remember getting paid as a kid to pull weeds in your parents or your neighbors backyards?  Trust me, there are college kids in this town who would love the extra cash.

Just search for organic weed-killer recipes, they’re safe for the environment and they involve ingredients found around the home like lemon juice, white vinegar and rubbing alcohol.

Use appropriate ground cover rather than constantly turning the soil in your gardens, this just turns up more weeds. There are a variety of ground cover plants that will control weeds and a lot of them will look beautiful in your garden

There are many more way to control weeds in an eco-friendly way. Surely these alternatives may be more time consuming and, at times, more expensive. Heck, they may not always be as effective as roundup. But, most of us should agree that we would be willing to give up our perfectly manicured lawns for the health of the community—especially college students, right?

Support eco-responsbile gardening practices. We all want to live in a safe environment, one that is safe for the land, our children, our pets and ourselves. We want to rest assured that our property management companies are making responsbile decisions for our community. There are other effective alternatives to poisonous herbicides and we need to make that change.


Allison Barocas is an undergraduate Senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder, majoring in environmental studies and currently interning with elephant journal. Allison was born and raised on Long Island, New York and completed high school in Knoxville, Tennessee. She loves to spend her free time outdoors, going to concerts, running around Denver and traveling.

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