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Kara Cook-Schultz

Report details how 10 cities across the United States have made their parks, sports fields and school playgrounds safer, while still killing weeds, without glyphosate.


California is officially adding glyphosate, the active ingredient in the omnipresent weed-killer Roundup, to its list of carcinogens today.

“People are wondering: can we live without weed killers like Roundup that have been tied to health risks and have we become far too reliant on them?” asked Kara Cook, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Toxics Director.

Over the past several decades, glyphosate has exponentially increased its share of the pesticide market because of its ability to kill weeds while leaving glyphosate-resistant crops unscathed. The United States has used more than 1.8 million tons of glyphosate since 1974. That’s enough to fill 2,300 Olympic-sized 50-meter swimming pools. But the weed-killer doesn’t just stay in the ground. 70% of our rainwater has glyphosate in it, as do about 90% of food products tested by the US government (such as soy and honey), and according to research from the World Health Organization’s cancer arm, ingesting it could be a health risk.

Multiple cities across the country, including two in California, already are in the process of eliminating glyphosate from their public spaces. These pioneering communities are using both new and old-fashioned weed removal methods to maintain beautiful, healthy and safe greenery without jeopardizing the public health.

Ten cities are highlighted in the report called Thriving Communities Guide: 10 Places Where You Can Live Roundup-Free. Those cities are:

  1. Boulder, Colorado
  2. Carrboro, North Carolina
  3. Charlottesville, Virginia
  4. Dubuque, Iowa
  5. Takoma Park, Maryland
  6. Evanston, Illinois
  7. Irvine, California
  8. Richmond, California
  9. Portland, Oregon
  10. Wellesley, Massachusetts

Some of the helpful weed-killing tips include:

  1. Mow grass higher
  2. Plant seeds closer together
  3. Mulch flower beds
  4. Spot-spray weeds with vinegar, soap, hot water and other safe household items
  5. Keep soil healthy with natural fertilizer

“These cities using these methods are a blueprint for how we can all enjoy our environment safely, without the downside of dangerous chemicals,” said Cook. “The report is truly ‘news you can use,’ not just for consumers, but especially for local governments responsible for their townspeople’s well-being.”

You can read the report here.

Download our infographic here. Please attribute to “U.S. PIRG Education Fund.”


U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.