About the Sebastopol Toxics Education Program (STEP)

About the STEP Project

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 less-toxic living."

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!

The most recent issues are also listed on the City of Sebastopol website at http://www.ci.sebastopol.ca.us/Connect-With-Us/Newsletters/Toxics-Education-Program-(STEP)

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 2018:

* 93% said they find The Next STEP newsletter helpful and interesting.

* Of those responding about pesticide use, 30% said they use pesticides at home or work. Of the folks that do use pesticides, 63% just use natural/nontoxic pesticides, and 37% use both natural and synthetic/toxic.

* We were delighted that 71% of respondents said that this newsletter has helped them reduce their use of toxics. It was valuable and heartening to hear their examples.

* Many also provided us with excellent ideas for future issues and appreciation for our work.

You can see more about the results of our 2018 reader survey at www.healthyworld.org/GRAPHICS/STEP/stepvol18no3.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 page).

>> 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 project going.

>> VOICE YOUR SUPPORT. If you live in the town of Sebastopol, tell the City Council that you appreciate this project and why, including how it's helped you reduce your use of toxics.

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 people 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 

STEP's mission is to support Sebastopol citizens in reducing their toxic use and exposure,
creating a healthier and safer Sebastopol for everyone.

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

WEB: www.ci.sebastopol.ca.us

This page is on the Community Action Publications (CAP) website because we participate in and support the STEP program and want to make additional information available about its activities.

For more information about organics and other alternatives to toxics, see our Toxics and Alternatives Resources Page.

For information about Sonoma County and area toxics, organics, and environmental and political information and action, see our Sonoma County Resources Page.

Information courtesy of:

"Information Empowering Action for a Better World"


We hope this information (and our work) is valuable to you,
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!

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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
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Page last updated 9/29/2018.