Weeds are usually controlled with toxic herbicides based only on their appearance. Cities and other organizations will spray toxic herbicides along roads, in parks and anywhere they see “unsightly” weeds. Weeds are just plants and were put on this planet for a purpose and that purpose is not to enrich the herbicide industry. Some weeds can bring nutrients and water up from deep in the soil and from the air and then make them available to other plans and microbes. They can also increase the organic matter content of the soil as they grow and die. Some weeds can help control erosion in some areas. They provide homes and food for microbes and animals. Many weeds provide food for pollinating bees, butterflies and many other beneficial insects.
If you have harmful weeds in your yard such as goatheads and any other stinging plants, you need to remove them. If they are poisonous to pets or other animals you may have, they need to go. But the vast majority of plants in your yard are beneficial to the ecosystem. The same goes for so-called weeds on public property. They are mostly sprayed with toxic herbicides because they are not attractive. If they are blocking the view of traffic or in some other way endangering people, they need to be removed. However, there is no reason to spray herbicides on sidewalks or medians or other public areas if they are not dangerous. If someone doesn’t like looking at them, they can look in another direction. I have had weed enforcement people come on my property in some city where I lived and told me to get rid of the weeds. When I asked them what species of plants these weeds were and how they were dangerous, they could not answer. The finally left because I told them they would look ridiculous in court if we go there.
The same principle goes for pests. If you have cockroaches, ants, fleas or ticks in your house, you may want to get rid of them and you can without using toxic pesticides. Most other “pests” are simply visiting your home or business and all you have to do is learn how they are coming in and exclude them. There are many schools that have exterminators spray pesticides in schools to prevent pests. That is totally ridiculous. Exclusion works in schools as well and the pesticides won’t prevent pests but they will endanger the children in the schools. There are non-toxic methods of controlling any real pests in schools as well.
The pesticides that are sprayed in and around buildings are usually synthetic pyrethroid and are hazardous. The pesticides inside can affect people and pets negatively and when sprayed outside can kill many beneficial organisms and microbes in the ecosystem We need to do more to protect our ecosystem -and reduce, and hopefully, eliminate the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides in society.