Our Water Our World: Pesticide Use & Disposal

Pesticides can cause problems for our health and the environment even when applied according to label directions. Pesticides sprayed outdoors to kill insect pests or control weeds make their way into our waterways. Very small amounts of pesticides can be lethal to marine life, birds, and other life forms.

If You Must Use Pesticides

Choose wisely

  • Identify the pest and the afflicted plant, and then choose a product labeled for use on that pest and plant. Not all pesticides are effective against all pests.
  • Choose the least toxic product available. Enclosed baits and traps are safer options.
  • Buy ready-to-use products instead of concentrates. In addition to being less toxic because they are diluted, ready-to-use products avoid spills because you don’t need to measure or mix the product.
  • Avoid sprays. Aerosol sprays in particular increase the risk of exposure to beneficial insects, birds, pets, you, and your family.

Use wisely

  • Use only the amount recommended on the label to do the job. More is not better.
  • Spot-treat whenever possible.
  • Don’t use pesticides outdoors when rain is predicted, or just before you water your lawn or garden.
  • Pesticides, whether tracked in from outdoors or used inside, can contaminate carpets and floors where children play. If you apply pesticides outside, you can carry chemicals inside on your clothing and shoes. Pets can also be carriers.

Storing Pesticides & Application Equipment

  • Store pesticides in their original containers and keep the label on and be sure to follow all storage instructions on the label. If the label gets wet or starts to come off, protect it with plastic tape.
  • Never transfer pesticides to soft drink bottles or other containers.
  • Store pesticides where children and pets cannot reach Close containers tightly and remember that “child-resistant” packaging does not mean “child-proof.”
  • Do not store pesticides where flooding is possible or in places where they might spill or leak onto the ground or into water. Clearly mark containers, applicators and utensils used for mixing or applying pesticides and store them with the pesticides. Do not use them for any other purpose.

Safe & Legal Pesticide Disposal

  • Take pesticides you won’t be using to a local household hazardous waste collection facility or event. Learn how to dispose of pesticides on our Waste Reduction webpage. In California, it’s illegal to dispose of any amount of unused pesticide (or any hazardous waste) in the trash, in spite of what the label may say.
  • You may dispose of empty pesticide containers in the trash if they are 5 gallons or less in capacity. When you have used up the pesticide, rinse the container three times, each time pouring the rinse water on the plant you bought the pesticide for. Then put the rinsed container in the trash.
  • Never dispose of pesticide rinse water in any indoor or outdoor drain. Water used to rinse out a sprayer or applicator should be applied like the pesticide.
  • If you have a pesticide that is no longer available in stores—such as chlordane, DDT, chlorpyrifos (Dursban), or diazinon, do not use it. Take it to a household hazardous waste collection.

Find more information on Pesticide Use and Disposal in our OWOW brochures in English and Spanish

The City of Goleta along with the Cities of Buellton, Carpinteria, Solvang, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and the County of Santa Barbara have partnered with the OWOW organization to promote the use of less-toxic products in an effort to reduce pesticide pollution in our communities. By reducing pesticide use and the use of less-toxic products around the home, you can help reduce pesticides and other pollutants such as herbicides and fertilizers from being picked up while watering or when it rains and transported to the nearest storm drain inlet and into our waterways. The OWOW website is a great resource for finding less-toxic products to use around your home or garden.