Outdoor Space

The survival of all species - including humans - depends on healthy and balanced ecosystems, beginning with soil health and moving up through plants, shrubs, trees, and the many organisms that depend on them. Jewish traditions, such as the commandment to keep and protect the garden of Eden / world and the Shmita cycle, recognize the need to balance human ecosystem benefits with practices that maintain ecosystem health for all. Practices in this category are intended to help institutions protect existing habitat and actively design and create healthier habitats through the thoughtful selection of vegetation and other elements of healthy ecosystems.

Landscape management refers to the practices, inputs, and infrastructure for maintaining outdoor spaces. While many institutions think of landscaping as purely aesthetic, thoughtful design and management practices can decrease consumption of energy and other resources, reduce harmful impacts of chemical sprays and petroleum-based fertilizers, and even reduce overall maintenance requirements, all while adding beauty and ecological benefits. This is also true of outdoor patios and the materials used to build chairs, sukkahs, and more.

Pesticides are combinations of toxic chemicals that are used on lawns in the form of herbicides (weed killers), insecticides and fungicides, however, they also kill beneficial organisms and insect species needed to maintain a healthy soil ecosystem. They are persistent in the environment and pollute our water, air and food supply and are linked with neurological, reproductive and respiratory problems, endocrine and immune system dysfunction, and increased risk of cancer. Pesticides can even be tracked indoors, where they persist for a long time. Children are especially vulnerable to pesticide exposures due to their hand-to-mouth behaviors, playing close to the ground, immature detoxification and organ systems, and their disproportionate exposure—pound for pound—compared to adults.

Natural lawn and turf management is a cost-effective, pesticide-free approach that incorporates simple cultural practices and non-toxic amendments that support and enhance soil biology necessary for healthy, safe, and beautiful lawns and play areas. A good way to use less pesticide is to plant native species, which also saves water and labor and is better for the ecosystem as a whole.

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Green Landscaping

Host an event about natural or organic landscaping
2 points
Education
Post signage about your green landscaping efforts
1 points
Education
Use organic fertilizers and mulch on your lawns
3 points
Action
More info
Plant or maintain edible landscaping
3 points
Action
Switch to greener landscaping practices
3 points
Action
More info
Green your landscaping policy
4 points
Advocacy
More info
Make your landscaping water-smart
5 points
Action
More info

Conservation

Restore wildlife habitat on your property
5 points
Action
Increase permeable surfaces
5 points
Action
More info
Start or join a campaign to protect parks and natural habitats
3 points
Advocacy
Volunteer to maintain a public park or other outdoor space
2 points
Action
Receive Wildlife Habitat certification from National Wildlife Federation
2 points
Action
Plant or maintain native plants in landscaped areas
4 points
Action
Identify and remove invasive species
3 points
Action
Plant or maintain a pollinator-friendly habitat
3 points
Action
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