The Sebastopol Toxics Education Program (STEP) is an innovative city-wide toxics-reduction program in Sebastopol, California.
STEP's mission is to support reduced use of pesticides and other toxics all around Sebastopol, thus creating a healthier and safer town for everyone. Sebastopol is in Sonoma County, in northern California, about an hour north of San Francisco.
The project was officially started when, in May of
2000, the Sebastopol City Council voted to establish
Sebastopol as a Voluntary Toxics-Free Zone.
With this resolution, the City chose to avoid using toxic pesticides on City-maintained property, and to support voluntary reduction of pesticide use among residents.
You can read about the City's success in avoiding
pesticide use on its property, at www.healthyworld.org/GRAPHICS/STEP/stepvol14no4.pdf.
To implement the education portion of the result.
resolution a volunteer citizen's group called the
Sebastopol Toxics Education Program (STEP) was formed.
• The Next STEP newsletter •
Currently, STEP's primary project is a 2-page newsletter
called The Next STEP, which was started in
Jan. 2001 and is sent 6 times a year to all City residents
in their water bills. We call it, "Your handy guide to
This friendly, informative newsletter offers helpful information about the potential health and environmental harm of common household toxics - and about the viable, earth-friendly (and often less-expensive) alternatives one can use.
These newsletters are distributed to a majority of the town
at a very low cost, because the newsletters are created by
volunteers, and included in the current water bill mailing,
with no added postage required.
• Reading Issues Online •
The Recent Issues list describes and offers links to our most recent issues.
Our handy Index by Topic makes it easy for you to look up a question you have about a specific toxic or alternative. Or just browse the content to see what's available!
• Program Results •
We include feedback cards in the first issue of each year, so that readers have an easy way to tell us how we're meeting their needs and the topics that would interest them in the future. This is a summary of the results of this survey in 2016:
* 86% said they find The Next STEP newsletter helpful and interesting.
* Of those responding about pesticide use, 39% said they use pesticides at home or work. Of the folks that do use pesticides, 56% just use natural/nontoxic pesticides, 15% just synthetic/toxic, and 29% use both.
* We were delighted that 69% of respondents said that this newsletter has helped them reduce their use of toxics. It was valuable and heartening to hear their examples -- from finding safe alternatives for housecleaning, ants, and garden pests -- to knowing how to wisely choose and dispose of art supplies and beauty products.
* Many also provided us with excellent ideas for future issues and appreciation for our work.
You can see our 2016 reader survey at www.healthyworld.org/GRAPHICS/STEP/stepvol16no5.pdf.
For more positive feedback on this project, see STEP-Accolades.
• STEP Participation •
>> TO STAY IN TOUCH: You can sign up to
receive email alerts when each new issue is posted online or
available in your water bill (see our Email List Signup
>> WE WANT YOUR FEEDBACK. Send us your questions, feedback, suggestions, and story ideas, to STEP [at] healthyworld.org.
>> WE WELCOME GUEST WRITERS. For more
information, see www.healthyworld.org/STEPWriter.html.
>> HELP MAKE STEP POSSIBLE. Offer a couple
hours of your time for mailings and other short projects and
you'll have fun and be part of what keeps this volunteer
• Other Possible Projects •
We also see other ways STEP might act towards our objectives, and we invite area residents to work with us in creating related projects. For instance, some other project ideas we'd love to pursue include:
* Business Outreach - Support areas businesses and their customers to choose less-toxic options.
* School Outreach - Find out where local schools are in their pesticide use and either tell the good news of their less-toxic efforts and/or support them in reducing their use of toxics. Encourage educational curriculum about toxics and alternatives.
* Media Outreach - Write articles about toxics and alternatives, and the STEP program, for local periodicals.
* Grants/Funding - Investigate and pursue grants and other funding that will support our goals.
We're also interested in collaborative partnerships with
and groups working on projects related to our goals. More
specific ideas for projects are in the Resolution's Exhibit
A. To see the City's resolution, click here.
• Supporting Other Cities •
One of our intentions with this project has been to see if
we could develop and test techniques that might support
other cities in doing similar actions. If your city is
considering a similar program, you can see the
text of the City's Resolution, as well as the letter
to Sebastopol residents from the City Council
announcing the program and newsletter. Just click here.
If your city is interested in using modified versions of
the newsletter, or creating custom ones for your city,
please contact us to explore what your interests are and see
what we can work out, what costs might be involved, etc.
• For More Information •
To contact the STEP program, email STEP [at] healthyworld.org or write: STEP, c/o The City of Sebastopol, P. O. Box 1776, Sebastopol CA 95473
Newsletter Editor and Layout: Patricia Dines
Newsletter Editorial Team: Patricia Dines & Jim Gleaves
Newsletter Design Concept and Logo Design: Lyn Bouguereau
STEP Founders: Michael Black, Patricia Dines, Rebecca Dwan, Jeff Edelheit, Nan Fuchs, Craig Litwin, and Larry Robinson.
STEP, P. O. Box 1776, Sebastopol CA 95473
For more information about organics and other alternatives to toxics, see our Toxics and Alternatives Resources Page.
"Information Empowering Action
for a Better World"
We hope this information (and our work) is valuable to
and supports the health and well-being of yourself,
your family, our community, and our world.
If it is, please let us know. It makes us happy to hear!
You can support our work and ensure that it continues.
For instance, you can link to our site and let others
know about it. Or become a CAP member! For more
information, click on the "About CAP" button above.
If you find a broken link or outdated information, please let us know by emailing info[at]healthyworld.org. Please include both the webpage name and the relevant information.
Thank you to everyone who supports our ability to offer this information
to our community, for our planet!
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Community Action Publications, 1998-2017. All rights
Page last updated 8/14/2017.