Topic Resources

Tools Used
Initiated By

The Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (CAP)

Partners

Nature Action

Quebec's Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides

The Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (CAP) brought about a quick change in thinking regarding pesticides, and engaged citizens and other organizations to organize their own pesticide reduction efforts, with their Pesticide Free Naturally campaign in the province of Quebec, Canada. Their program used action kits with lawn signs, community workshops and events, low-cost memberships and mass media. A survey included with the action kits (self reported) indicated changes in pesticide use as well. This campaign built on the one originally developed by the Green Communities Association.

Background

In the spring of 2001, the Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (CAP) launched the public awareness campaign Pesticide Free Naturally. The objective was to reduce the use of pesticides in lawn care in the province of Quebec. CAP was a non-profit Quebec organization was founded in December 1999 by a group of people affected by pesticide spraying in their vicinity.

Delivering the Program

The official launch of the project took place in the beautiful natural surroundings of Parc du Mont Saint Bruno, in September 2001. Madame Dandelion (Mme. Pissenlit), mascot of one of CAP's partners (Nature-Action Qubec) presided over the event. Unfortunately media coverage was weak due to the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Partnerships, Action Kits & Questionnaire

In 2001, CAP formed partnerships with ten Quebec organizations and municipalities to distribute a free Action Kit, that was funded by Fonds d'Action Quebecois pour le Developpement Durable. Each of the ten partners received 500 kits. The public either downloaded the Action Kit from CAP's website or purchased it for Cdn$8.50. The Action Kit contained information such as:

  • information on biodiversity and how it began with homeowners' lawns
  • how to have a beautiful lawn without pesticides
  • what to do in case of pesticide poisoning,
  • controlling weeds and insects
  • activities for children and their parents, and lawn signs
  • horticultural calendar (Prompts)
  • What God must be thinking.

The Action Kit tool included a short questionnaire to measure its impact to raise the publics awareness regarding pesticide use.

The partners distributed the kit in their regions in various ways, for example at:

  • official launches, attended by media to ensure good press coverage (Mass Media)
  • conferences
  • kiosks at special events, in particular those events related to the environment.

Some partners distributed the kits door-to-door.

Ten thousand (10,000) Action Kits including lawn signs (Norm Appeals) were distributed to Quebec households, 5,000 of them through CAP's partners.

CAP supported their partners through presentations, attendance at launches, loan of kiosks, and translation of newspaper articles or municipal bulletins.

Workshops

CAP gave free workshops to their partners covering sustainable lawn care and how best to spread this information to their regions including:

  • ready-to-use press releases and news articles
  • information on community-based marketing
  • ideas for the launch
  • how to give a workshop or conference.

dith Smeesters, President of CAP and a well-known and sought after environmental speaker, led the workshops.

Website

CAP had an extensive website featuring numerous resources, events, news, newsletters, and other information. The site included a sample letter that the public could use to send to organizations to elicit their support. The site also depicted a beautiful poster of an endearing child in a field of wildflowers (Vivid, Personalized Communication) that the public could order for a small charge (Cdn$5.00).

Membership

One technique CAP used to bring people together was a membership at a low cost of Cdn.$10.00 (Norm Appeals). Membership included the Action Kit. In 2002, membership doubled to 700 members including 60 organizations.

Reaching people started with youth

In 2002, Nature-Action Qubec and CAP created an animation project that children participated in while at a day camp during the summer and at school in the fall. Facilitators encouraged children to talk about their drawings. Children were encouraged to bring home their projects and discuss them with their parents to learn about their lawn care habits. This allowed CAP to create awareness directly among children and indirectly among parents.

In 2002, CAP also created a web page for children on their website including activities, and information for children, parents, and educators, and an art contest as a tool to make children and parents aware of the dangers of pesticide use. In addition, CAP created a fun but educational fact sheet on pesticides to reach children.

Media

CAP and its partners worked with the mass media (Mass Media) through:

  • press releases and press conferences at the start of the seasons campaign
  • articles in different newspapers
  • radio interviews
  • television interviews in the partners municipalities.

Kiosks & Events

CAP staffed kiosks at numerous events, for example:

In November 2002, at their kiosk at the Colloque annuel sur l'education l'Environnement at a local school, CAP distributed information on alternatives to pesticides. Many teachers from the secondary high school boards, environmental groups, government bodies, as well as publishing houses attended.

An ecological lawn was the guest of honor at the CAP kiosk of the 24th Salon National d'Habitation 2003 in Montreal thanks to CAP's partners (Vivid, Personalized Communication). Different types of ecologically grown grass, and natural garden and lawn care products were demonstrated to thousands of visitors at the kiosk.

CAP also participated at the annual Salon Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins and Rendez-vous Horticole 2003 in Montreal.

2002

In 2002, demand grew for sustainable lawn care practices. CAP together with its eight partners, promoted their campaign against pesticide-use in more populated regions as well as in those regions who had already received CAP's Action Kit.

Financing the Program

The 2001 Pesticide Free Naturally project was supported by federal and provincial funds from co-Action 2000 and Fonds d'Action Quebecois pour le Dveloppement Durable respectively, and by CAP's members.

Measuring Achievements

CAP measured the effects of their program by including a questionnaire in their Action Kit.

Results

CAP succeeded in bringing about an important and fast change in social thinking towards pesticides.

  • Among the participating municipalities, groups of citizens or organizations asked their city councillor to regulate the cosmetic use of pesticides. Several municipalities went a step further and were actively studying proposed pesticide regulation.
  • The Quebec horticultural association submitted a report to the Cousineau Commision recognizing the risk of pesticide use and presented their agreement on the reduction of pesticides.
  • A major grocery chain publicly announced in 2003 that they would no longer sell pesticide products in their stores.
  • Numerous garden and lawn care businesses responded to the invitation to join in a workshop on sustainable maintenance practises in garden and lawn care.
  • A local college together with CAP started developing a new program covering sustainable maintenance practises in garden and lawn care.

Questionnaire

2001

 
Questions (translated) Affirmative Reply Negative Reply Number of Replies
The kit included a lawn sign; did you place it on your front lawn or did you have this intention? 29% 62% 1696
During the last 3 years, have you used pesticides on the interior or exterior of your home? 50% 47% 1744
Now that you have read the contents of the kit, according to you, has pesticide use been reduced on the exterior or interior of your home? 66% 26% 1503
According to you, do you consider this reduction weak, medium, high or total? 26% - 38% replied high or totally - 1145


2002

 
Questions (translated) Affirmative Reply Negative Reply Number of replies
The kit included a lawn sign; did you place it on your front lawn or did you have this intention? 29% 62% 1696
During the last 3 years, have you used pesticides on the interior or exterior of your home? 50% 47% 1744
Now that you have read the contents of the kit, according to you, has pesticide use been reduced on the exterior or interior of your home? 66% 26% 1503
According to you, do you consider this reduction weak, medium, high or total? 26% - 38% replied high or totally - 1145

Notes: The percentages were rounded up and did not necessarily total 100%. CAP estimated that much more than 4100 people were reached about the effects of pesticide due to the extensive media coverage, including radio and television interviews and events.

 

Contacts

Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides
Head office:
Sylvie Thorn
1616 Montarville Street
Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec
Canada

Postal address:
C.P. 434
Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville
Quebec, Canada
J3V 5G8

Telephone: (450) 441-3899 or 1 (800) 214-1214
Fax: (450) 441-2138
E-mail: capnaq@qc.aira.com
www.cap-quebec.com>

Green Community Association
Clifford Maynes
Executive Director
P.O. Box 928
Peterborough, ON K9J 7A5
Voicemail: (705) 745-7479
Fax: (705) 745-7294
E-mail: cmaynes@gca.ca
www.gca.ca

This case study was written by Ria van der Veen. Ria is an experienced writer with a broad portfolio including case studies, newsletters, articles for journals, and technical manuals. You can contact Ria for your researching, writing, and editing needs at otc@comnet.ca.

Notes

Last updated: September 2004

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