How To Keep Toxic Pesticides Out Of Our Waterways

Pesticides used on the land, and applied around our homes and businesses are washed off by the rain and carried into our local waterways where they harm organisms and degrade the aquatic environment. MCSTOPPP is dedicated to promoting the use of the least toxic practices for managing pests in order to foster healthy soil, water conservation, runoff and waste reduction that protect and enhance our creeks, bays and ocean.

MCSTOPPP is a proud partner in both Yard Smart Marin and the Our Water, Our World program which provides outreach, support, and training on less toxic pest management to customers and staff in our local stores!

Find helpful information for both home gardeners and professional landscapers under the panels below.

Our Water Our World - Less Toxic Pest Management

The purpose of the Our Water, Our World (OWOW) program is to raise awareness of the connection between pesticide use and their harmful effects on water quality. The program  provides information to customers and pest management professionals at the point-of-purchase about integrated pest management (IPM) and less-toxic alternative products.

In partnership with our trained OWOW Program Specialist, MCSTOPPP provides participating stores with an assortment of OWOW fact sheets and shelf tags to assist customers in effectively managing various pests in the least toxic way possible.

Marin Ace tabling event
Pest specific OWOW brochures
OWOW product identification shelf tags
Trainings for customers and store staff
Topic specific in-store public workshops
In-store displays for seasonal pests
Technical assistance and vendor events

Below are the partnering stores in Marin that participate in the Our Water Our World program.

  • Ace Building Supply Center – Pt. Reyes Station
  • Chase Ace Hardware – San Rafael
  • Fairfax Ace Lumber and Hardware – Fairfax
  • Goodman Building Supply – Mill Valley
  • Jackson’s Hardware – San Rafael
  • Marin Ace Hardware – San Rafael
  • Pini Ace Hardware – Novato
  • All five Sloat Garden Centers (Kentfield, Mill Valley, Novato, San Rafael)
  • The Home Depot – San Rafael
  • Toby’s Feed Barn – Pt. Reyes Station
  • United Market and Garden Center – San Rafael

We do have a list of less-toxic products according to targeted pest available but please note that not all products listed are available in all stores.

Next time you shop for a pesticide product in one of the stores mentioned above, look for one of the following tags placed beneath less toxic products found on store shelves – or ask store staff to assist you in making choices that are better for you, your families, pets, and the environment.

OWOW shelf talker

Learn more at the Our Water Our World website.

Yard Smart Marin
Yard Smart Marin started in 2016 as a county sponsored public-private coalition for pesticide outreach and education and became a fiscally sponsored project of MarinLink in 2019. The coalition includes individuals representing a wide range of organizations and perspectives from around Marin.

Check out the Yard Smart Marin website for a quick one stop resource for safer alternatives to using pesticides. Whether it’s in the yard or inside your house, find solutions in just one or two clicks of the mouse!

Yard Smart Marin

Eco-Friendly Landscape Professionals & Pest Control Operators
Rescape Qualified Landscape Professionals

MCSTOPPP partnered in training lots of Bay-Friendly landscape professionals over the years to take a sustainable, Bay-Friendly approach to landscaping. The Bay-Friendly Landscaper Program has evolved into ReScape California’s Landscape Training & Qualification Program. ReScape California promotes a whole systems approach to landscaping and gardening that works in harmony with the natural environment.

The combined programs have graduated over 2,000 experienced landscape professionals who are putting sustainable landscaping practices to work every day. Find a ReScape Qualified Professional to assist you with your next project.

EcoWise Certified Pest Control Operators

To find a stormwater friendly Pest Control Operator, hire an Eco-Wise Certified Professional to manage pests in and around your home. EcoWise Certified is a project of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), which also sponsors the California Green Business Network.

Lawn to Native Garden Conversion
Are you tired of the never-ending cost and maintenance of your water hungry lawn? Replace it with a native garden! Native gardens provide a wealth of benefits over lawns.

front yard lawn
Greatly reduce your water use
Minimal maintenance – No More Mowing!
No need for pesticides
Create habitat for bees and butterflies
Add color, texture, and movement
Planning and Observation

Successfully converting your lawn into a native garden is a three step process. The first and most important step is planning and observation. Here are a list of things to consider before you get started.

  • Measure out your yard and create a rough sketch for your new native garden.
  • What existing trees and plants do you want to keep or remove?
  • What are the sun and shade patterns throughout the day?
  • Have you looked at several other gardens to get an idea about the type of plants you like?
  • Are you going to leave the area flat or will you be adding contours?
  • Are you going to incorporate a rain garden or dry creek swale to capture and infiltrate stormwater from your downspout(s)?
  • Are you going to add drip irrigation to help get the plants established? If so, is there an existing sprinkler system for the lawn you can convert to a drip system, or will you need to set up something new?
Killing Your Lawn

sheet mulching over grassNow comes the part we’ve all been waiting for, kill your lawn! Homeowners can use either of two eco-friendly methods to kill their lawns. Solarizing involves heating the soil by covering it with a clear plastic tarp for four to six weeks during summer. It works best on fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass, and with limited success on Bermuda grass. Sheet mulching is a method of layering materials (one of which is often cardboard) in order to inhibit the growth of weeds or (in this case) turf grass. Sheet mulching can be started any time of the year, takes six to eight months, works in sun or shade, and is effective on all grasses, including Bermuda grass. The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management program website has information and instructions for both methods.

Plant Your New Garden

completed native gardenFinally, replant. Whichever method you choose, time implementation so that you are ready to replant in the fall. The cool temperatures and moist soils of October, November, and December allow native plants to develop the healthy roots they need to thrive with little water during the heat of summer.

Select a mix of trees, grasses, perennials, and shrubs for your native garden. Just make sure to check how big each will get when fully mature.

Rainwater Capture and Management

Rain Garden

What does rainwater capture have to do with pesticide pollution reduction? Stormwater carries all kinds of pollutants with it including pesticides and fertilizers when it runs off from our properties. See how you can create practical and eco-friendly ways to increase groundwater infiltration onsite and reduce runoff to improve water quality in our creeks and bays!

Learn about gutters and downspouts, cisterns and rain barrels, drip line protection, ground covers, rain gardens, swales, dry creek beds, retaining walls, creating pervious surfaces and more! For more information, click on one of the publications below or see more on Rainwater Capture, Low Impact Development (LID), or Green Streets on our Rainwater Capture and Management page.

Native Plants for Garden, Patio and Creekside

California Native plants are naturally adapted to local soils and climate. Many do not require irrigation once established. These natives thrive without amendments, fertilizers or pesticides and offer incomparable habitat value to butterflies, birds and other wildlife. Habitat gardeners use natives to provide food, cover, and nesting opportunities for wildlife.

Discover more about the possibilities of native plants via the following resources.

Composting for a Healthy Garden

Give food scraps a new life through backyard composting and enjoy the many benefits compost provides. It is possible 41% of the materials found in your garbage are organic and compostable. By composting residents keep organic materials out of landfills and return them to their natural environment. Composted materials added to improve the soil, help it retain moisture and provide nourishment for plants. Compost keeps plants healthy and resistant to pests and eliminates the need for fertilizers. Using compost from food scraps and yard waste reduces or eliminates the use of pesticides and fertilizers, therefore saves money. Discover how you Grow Gardens from Garbage through composting and worm bins. Zero Waste Marin provides free food-scrap shuttles to Marin residents. Check out the Zero Waste Marin website to find out more about composting and free composting classes.

Tips for a backyard compost pile:

  • To speed up the composting cycle, place your compost bin in an area that will receive full sun.
  • Transfer organic wastes ( apple cores, egg shells, coffee grounds, banana peels, etc.) to your backyard compost pile as often as possible.
  • Add grass clippings, raked leaves and wood chips from landscaping
  • Don’t add materials treated with pesticides or herbicides. Manage landscaping with integrated pest management and less toxic chemicals.
  • Don’t add meat scraps, fish bones, bacon fat, pet waste or diseased plants as these attract pests and spread disease. Place meat, fish and fat in green yard waste bin. Commercial composting uses higher heats to break down animal products. Place pet waste or diseased plants in brown sanitary landfill bins.