Safer Choices for You and Nature

By Sustainable Gardening Australia Foundation

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Would you like all Australians to know which garden products are genuinely safe for us and our environment?

The world is awash with over 80,000 chemicals that we humans have manufactured! And in Australia many of the 1000+ sprays and other products to control garden pests, weeds and diseases can be harmful!

Help us let people find out how safe these products are by making a tax-deductible donation for an Australia-first web App! Since our organisation is non-profit and has not asked for or accepted funds from manufacturers, our App is independent and science-based.

Although products have been registered by government, limited information appears on product labels and is often hard to interpret. Our experience is that the average gardener doesn’t know their safety!

Safe and responsible product use relies on personal research and reading of more technical documents – which, let’s face it, most of us don’t do. Just think of the tonnes of potentially harmful chemicals gardeners are spreading about!

Please make a tax-deductible donation (even $5) to help continue development of a unique App web (easily readible on mobile phones) - SGA Garden Product Guide - Safer Choices for You 'n' Nature - rating the safety of chemical garden products on a 6 Star basis.

Human Safety

In the 1000+ products sold in Australia, there are nearly 90 active ingredients. Some have been linked with diseases including cancer. Worldwide cancer rates are increasing and over 350 chemicals have been identified as being able, or expected to be able, to cause cancer. For example, the most commonly used weed killer, glyphosate, is now regarded as a potential carcinogen.

Species Extinction Rates

Chemical pollution is believed to play a significant role in their increase. However, information on product labels tends to address user safety - not effects of chemicals which may persist in soil, pollute waterways, or harm non-target wildlife. For example:

  • pyrethrum, a popular insecticide, harms many beneficial insects and widely sold neonicotinoid insecticides are believed to be responsible for declining honey bee populations.
  • Others affect biodiversity because of their effects on fish and other aquatic organisms, birds, other beneficial insects and even soil micoorganisms which are important for soil health and fertility.

When used unwisely in

  • The around 6 million private Australian gardens
  • Public and community gardens

such chemicals have the potential to cause unwanted and unintended effects on you and your environment.

We need to reduce the worldwide load of manufactured chemicals

No one is really certain about the size of this load and gardening products are part of it. And we don’t know how many chemicals have been rigorously tested. “The EPA equates lack of evidence of harm with evidence of no harm” writes the Environment Defence Fund, one of the largest not-for-profits in the world. While the US EPA lists 85,000 chemicals, the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances lists over 40,000 chemicals with only 15% receiving detailed assessment. Each year many thousands of new chemicals are added.

And even worse, we know little about effects of accumulation of small amounts of a large number of chemicals.

How Sustainable Gardening Australia (SGA) is contributing to minimizing impacts of gardening chemicals

As a not-for-profit organisation, relying mainly on volunteers and donations, working to protect our natural environment, our health and enable healthy local food production we have already created a unique database rating garden products and are preparing to turn it into mobile-phone-compatible App on our website We are one of only two organisations in the world that have done this – the other is in the USA for American products with different names and formulations.

SGA’s database, developed with Burnley College, University of Melbourne, gives scores for criteria indicating human and environmental impacts of each product - 11 criteria for pest and disease control products and 9 for fertilisers. The App will give products a rating of 1 – 6 Stars and show levels of safety for humans, insects, fish and birds, persistence in soils and likelihood of polluting waterways. In addition, it will suggest chemical-free approaches and flag where there is dispute in scientific data. Only about 25% of products achieve 5 or 6
Star ratings.

What you can do

Please make a tax-deductible donation to help us continue developing this App to enable safer choices about buying and using garden products!

Your support will allow us to:

  1. Continue work on the database
  2. Develop a mobile-phone-compatible web App
  3. Update it as new products are introduced and formulations are changed
  4. Increase the reach of this important information
  5. Continue training gardeners to be effective in sustainable approaches which protect the environment and produce healthy food.

Please help us to protect human health and our environment by making a tax-deductible donation today!

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Team Members

Sustainable Gardening Australia

Angelo Eliades

Bruce Plain

Colin Allison

Maree Kiefer

Peter Hayward

Richard Rowe

Sally Sheppard

Sharron Pfueller

Wen Cheng