Pollinator Week

National Pollinator Week Kicks Off with a Week of Actions!
JUNE 17-23, 2024 #PollinatorWeek

To Stop Bee-Toxic Pesticide Use and Adopt Organic Practices

“We need worms to create soil; flies and beetles and fungi to break down dung; ladybirds and hoverflies to eat greenflies; bees and butterflies to pollinate plants to provide food, oxygen, fuel, and medicines, and hold the soil together; and bacteria to help plants fix nitrogen and to help cows to digest grass. . . [yet] we often choose to squander the irreplaceable, to discard those things that both keep us alive and make life worth living. Perhaps if we learn to save a bee today, we can save the world tomorrow?”

—David Goulson, A Sting in the Tale (2013)

Click above to view Dr. Goulson's talk during the 2023 National Forum series Forging a Future with Nature—The Existential Challenge to End Petrochemical Pesticide and Fertilizer Use. The National Forum Series aims to enable a collective strategy to address the existential health, biodiversity, and climate threats and chart a path for a livable and sustainable future. We come together to empower effective action. You are part of the solution!

Washington DC, June 17, 2024
—In recognition of the importance of pollinators and biodiversity to a healthy environment and healthy people during National Pollinator Week, Beyond Pesticides announces a week of activities and actions!

Pollinator Week Video by Beyond Pesticides 

Pollinator Protection Starts with Organic Practices
The week of June 17 is National Pollinator Week, which allows us to recognize—and take action to protect—these vital ecosystem members. Pollinators—bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other organisms—make a critical contribution to plant health, crop productivity, and the preservation of natural resources, but their existence is threatened by pesticide-contaminated habitats! Throughout the week, we will suggest actions that you can take to promote the health of pollinators. Although these actions can include establishing pollinator-friendly plants, the first step is providing a safe place for pollinators to live, eat, reproduce, and take refuge from predators and adverse weather. In other words, pollinator conservation begins with organic management of their environment. >>Tell your Governor to adopt organic practices on state lands.

In addition, millions of miles of roads, utility lines, railroad corridors and other types of rights-of-way (ROWs) are treated with pesticides to control unwanted plants and insects. Some states have addressed the risk of using pesticides along ROWs by developing integrated pest management (IPM) programs, restricting when and where pesticides can be applied on ROWs and/or providing no-spray agreements. Planting native vegetation, using mechanical, biological, and least-toxic vegetation control methods are effective in reducing and eliminating toxic pesticide applications.

What can we do? Encourage your community to develop an integrated roadside vegetation management program for roadside management. Cut, girdle, mow or use grazing animals whenever possible as a mechanical means to eradicate unwanted vegetation. Establish a roadside wildflower program that plants native flower and grass species, especially those that are attractive to bees and other pollinators. Avoid pesticides such as 2,4-D, glyphosate (Roundup), dicamba, picloram, and triclopyr for roadside management. Look to our Pesticide Gateway page for more information! 

Parks for a Sustainable Future—Become an Advocate!
Envision an organic community where local parks, playing fields, and greenways are managed without unnecessary toxic pesticides, children and pets are safe to run around on the grass, and bees and other pollinators are safeguarded from toxic chemicals. At Beyond Pesticides, this is the future we envision and are working to achieve.
Beyond Pesticides has long advocated for organic management practices as a means to foster native pollinator health and broader biodiversity. In partnership with major retailers like Natural Grocers and Stonyfield Organic, our Parks for a Sustainable Futureprogram is an in-depth training assisting community land managers in transitioning two public green spaces to organic landscape management, while aiming to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to eventually transition all public areas in a locality to these safer practices. Beyond Pesticides is now assisting local leaders and municipal landscapers in converting parks and recreational areas across the country to exclusively organic practices, eliminating synthetic pesticide and fertilizer use.

What can we do? Become a parks advocate! Beyond Pesticides is interested in working with you to encourage your community to transition to organic. Our training program starts small, with two demonstration sites, but often becomes the basis for broader change to land care practices throughout the entire community.

Sign up to be a Parks advocate today to let us know you’re willing to speak with local leaders about the importance of this program.

More we can do! Determine whether your state, school, or community has a law or policy governing pesticide usage in and around schools, or on public lands. Find out if, and how well, it is being implemented and you do not have a law, call for an organic land care policy in your community. Petition the school and the town parks department to convert the playing fields to organic care and require the grounds maintenance director, and/or contractors, be trained in organic land care. 

Juneteenth and Environmental Justice
As Pollinator Week coincides with the Juneteenth celebration, the time is now to renew our commitment to environmental justice while seeking the adoption of transformational policies and practices that recognize the urgency to address disproportionate harm inflicted by toxic pesticide use.  Those fighting for environmental justice understand that the harms inflicted by toxic chemical production and use cause disproportionate adverse effects on people of color—from fenceline communities near chemical production plants to the hazardous and inhumane working conditions in agricultural fields, to the elevated risk factors for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) from toxic pesticide exposure.   

In a 2022 interview with Southern Environmental Law Center, Robert Bullard, PhD – known as the father of environmental justice – defines environmental justice as the embracement of “the principle that all communities, all people, are entitled to equal protection of our environmental laws, housing laws, transportation laws...civil rights laws, human rights laws, and health laws and regulations.” Earlier this year, Dr. Bullard co-wrote a report for the Brookings Institute entitled, US pesticide regulation is failing the hardest-hit communities. It’s time to fix it, that describes U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to live up to its environmental justice commitments as laid out in various presidential directives under the Biden Administration.  

What can we do? You can speak up for environmental justice and urge EPA and other federal agencies to adopt meaningful programs that take out of the pipeline of production, use, storage, and disposal hazardous chemicals that are having disproportionate adverse effects in people of color communities. 

>> Take action by telling EPA that it needs to make environmental justice connections!  

Become an advocate for targeted support for small-scale organic farmers facing unprecedented uncertainty. See Agricultural Justice to learn more about the origins of Beyond Pesticides and a commitment to organic land management principles after witnessing farmworker occupational and living conditions. See Keeping Organic Strong to learn about our priorities for equity and the environmental justice benefits of an organic food system. 

  • Consider supporting Sanctuary Farms in Detroit, MichiganA message from jøn kent, co-founder: “Sanctuary Farms is a sustainable organization that focuses on closing the food loop through two main objectives: cultivating organic produce and creating nutritious compost. We cultivate the land through our composting and permaculture (no-till method) gardening practices. With these goals we want to foster a thriving community on the lower eastside of Detroit where people are safe, healthy and connected to their local environment and food by actively being involved in closing the food loop." 

  • Consider supporting The Black InstituteThe Black Institute (TBI) isn’t a think-tank, it’s an action-tank. Through a “head, heart, and feet strategy,” TBI injects new ideas for achieving racial equity and environmental justice into the policy realm. An Eco-Friendly Parks for All (EFPA) coalition partner, TBI is a leader in advancing organic land management legislation in New York City that bans toxic pesticides. [Poison Parks] 

Identifying and Planting for Pollinators
With pollinators responsible for over 80% of the world's flowering plants, it's no wonder we are fighting to protect them. Pollinators are important members of various land ecosystems, therefore how we manage these ecosystems and landscapes plays a critical role in long-term pollinator health. The expansion of urban, suburban, and agricultural areas reduces pollinator habitat and access to food, while intensive chemical use harms these beneficial organisms. Pesticide applications expose bees, birds, butterflies, and more to acute and sublethal levels of pesticides, which can result in reproductive abnormalities, impaired foraging, and even death. Please see our brief introduction to pollinators here! 

What can we do? You can play a role in protecting pollinators simply by making an organic garden with colorful, bee-attractive flowering plants, pledging it as pollinator-friendly, or even organizing your community, schools, or local government to make choices that foster pollinators. Don’t have a garden? Windows and balconies are also great places to feature plants to encourage pollinators to stop by! Backyard trees, gardens and beekeeping are great ways to support biodiversity and pollinators. Intentionally providing water, food and forage to pollinators will encourage and boost pollinator populations in your community. 

It helps to review Organic Lawn Care 101 best practices and know your weeds—simple steps to convert your lawn to organic! Check out the BEE Protective Habitat Guide for more information; the Do-It-Yourself Biodiversity resource offers hints about increasing biodiversity; and the Pollinator-Friendly Seed Directory.

Additionally, c
heck out the short film “The Seeds That Poison,” a Beyond Pesticides’ feature video highlighting the hazards associated with a major use of bee-toxic pesticides—seed coatings! 

Time to Spread the Buzz!
In view of EPA’s failure to protect pollinators from pesticides, the lives of those essential insects, birds, and mammals are increasingly dependent on state and local laws that under threat of U.S. Congressional action in the upcoming Farm Bill. The Farm Bill covers many areas—ranging from the supplemental nutritional assistance program (SNAP) to trade—and one provision that the pesticide industry would like to include is preemption of local authority to restrict pesticide use. This attack on local governance would undercut the local democratic process to protect public health and safety, especially important in the absence of adequate federal protection of the ecosystems that sustain life. >> Tell Your U.S. Representative and Senators to support a Farm Bill that promotes a sustainable future.

What else can we do? Order a Pesticide-Free Zone sign to showcase your organic yard or garden, share resources with your community, and share photos of pollinators on social media of with the hashtags #PollinatorWeek or #ProtectPollinators—then submit them to our Art Page

A Buzz-worthy Poll! What pollinators did you see this week?