During the late 90’s, I began to really center my attention around a handful of things that I could manageably direct my time and energy toward with an effort to make some sort of difference regarding the ways that we interact with our planet. By then, it was apparent to me that population growth was the largest threat to our imposing resource use and to the natural stability of our planet. The collection of “stuff” (the journey that our material commodities take from production to packaging to transport to purchase to use to landfill) and the reckless use of chemicals directly upon our Earth—both residentially and agriculturally—were two other wide-spread customs that I chose, through education, advocacy work and devoted personal practice, to focus on.
I spent several years researching agri-chemical companies—the products that they mass market and the cumulative effects that these sprays have on the wildlife they are consistently applied to—very much including us. I hand delivered letters to those surrounded by agricultural land and allocated time to reaching people through local media. During this stretch, I spent many hours out in the field, talking with farmers—often silently taking note of the visible nervous system effects in the older generations.
Though I slowly surrendered to the reality that my time and efforts were creating little change, the large-scale use of herbicides and pesticides has, throughout the years, remained an issue that I feel very passionate about. So, when we moved to a new living space last year to discover a certified bundle of poison ivy around our home, it became important to me to find a feel-good compromise between our wellbeing and the wellbeing of the small piece of land that we have the opportunity to work with and to nurture.
As much as I love and appreciate poison ivy for the beautiful plant that it is and the role that it plays in our ecosystem, many of my friends and family members are amongst the estimated 85% of our population who reacts to it after an up close and personal mingle.
Many years ago, I used salt water on a couple of poison ivy plants around the home that I was living in at that time, and it was really effective. After a bit of research, I decided to add vinegar to the mix, and discovered that both brews—salty water and salty vinegar—work impressively well.
- 1 gallon vinegar or water
- 1 cup salt
Mix together and carefully spray on leaves of plant. This blend isn’t picky about what it will eliminate from your yard space.
Admittedly, I have a difficult time even spraying this mix on poison ivy. While I choose to occasionally (and mindfully) use this brew on the above-mentioned plant, I don’t use it for any other plant. Instead, my family and I embrace the beauty and value that these herbs have and add to our lives. Dandelion, plantain, clover, sorrel, chickweed, thistle and many more incredible, nutrient-rich greens make their way into our kitchen during their growing seasons. They are welcomed gifts.
Each year, millions of pounds of chemicals are carelessly sprayed on gardens, lawns and, extensively, on farmland. These harmful brews make their way into the bodies of the animals living in and on this land, our bodies, our waterways—and, irreversibly, into our groundwater supply. Research in Germany has revealed significant amounts of glyphosate (used in Roundup) in the urine samples from those living in the city. I am certain that similar results would be found in any country where spraying has become customary.
**Please share the above spray mix with friends and family who routinely spray their gardens and lawns—and help decrease the amount sprayed on our farmlands through supporting local, organic farms and farmers.
(elephant journal, april 2014)