Esther Salata (MS ’15)

Environmentally Safe Pest Control

Esther Salata (MS ’15) has always had an issue with mosquitoes. They’ve not only shown up throughout her various educational and career pursuits but, when the pandemic hit, she realized that the issue had become a buzzing nuisance. Like others navigating the pandemic, Salata found herself spending more time outdoors, which meant facing the mosquitoes head-on. To keep them at bay, she tried candles, sprays and other gadgets, and, for a moment, considered chemically treating her yard. Ultimately, she decided against it due to the potential risks not just for her dog, Benny, but also to wildlife and the environment.

These concerns started Salata on a quest to find a safe option with low toxicity. When she didn’t find anything suitable at her local hardware and garden stores, she decided that she, along with her chemist-husband, should create a safe, effective solution to their problem. In November 2020, they started developing a plant-based yard and garden spray called Benesafe Solutions. By May 2021, the small business had launched a product comprised of a few ingredients that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has listed as posing a low risk to people, pets and the surrounding environment.

As the founder, owner and sole employee of Benesafe Solutions, Salata juggles it all and attributes the drive to keep growing the company to her SEAS experience. “As a small business owner, I wear a lot of hats,” says Salata. “It’s been a learning experience, and I always think back to my time at SEAS and the people I was surrounded by, all like-minded and environmentally conscious. I knew I belonged there the minute I arrived. That experience truly empowered me to want to go out and change the world. I’m so proud of creating Benesafe Solutions, an eco-friendly and minority-woman-owned pesticide business in an otherwise male-dominated industry.”

Benesafe is sold in 21 stores and vet clinics in Pennsylvania and Ohio and is being used by local landscaping companies. Salata is in the process of seeking efficacy data that will further support her marketing efforts as she grows the business to include solutions that will address other pest problems. “My hope is that as we develop more products and reach more people, they will become more conscious about the chemicals they use around their homes and embrace the importance of sustainability in everyday life.”