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Guest Blog: ‘We Stand By That Message’ of Fertilizer Reduction

Samantha DePoy-Warren, the spokesperson and communications director for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, offered this assessment of the controversy ignited by the “Rubber Ducky” lawn advertisement now being played on Maine television stations:

WE’VE GOTTEN SEVERAL CALLS here at the Maine DEP (where I am the spokesperson and communications director) about your blog post on the Ducky II ad and talk of it being pulled off the airwaves.

To be very clear, there is not currently nor has there ever been any talk of pulling this ad off the air! The only discussion was my recommendation to staff that the ad be pulled off the Maine.gov media library page so that people would instead go to the ThinkBlueMaine.org website, and could see and appreciate the partners behind this project as well as the supporting information and educational materials, as opposed to thinking it was solely a state government effort. I have not yet made the decision to do that.

When the complaints started coming into our office from those who were upset about the ad, I gave the Governor’s Office a heads-up so that they would not be taken off guard if they received similar messages of concern. A request was made by both my office and the Governor’s Office for a one-page fact sheet about the ad, simply so we could know the back-story as to how the ad came together as neither myself nor anyone in the Governor’s Office had been around when the ad was created and we wanted to have consistent information when we answered calls from the press and public about the ad.

I asked Barb Welch, who you spoke to Wednesday, for that fact sheet, and that was the only communication we had on the issue.

I think that this ad is a classic case of not what you say, but how you say it and I can certainly appreciate why those who make their living from landscaping and lawn care maintenance, etc. are concerned with the tone of the ad. I want to point out however that our message here was about cutting back and not eliminating the use of lawn chemicals and lawn care products. We stand by that message and the language in the ad that encourages people to cut back on lawn chemicals and remember that rain can wash away whatever they put on their lawn and pollute our rivers, lakes and bays. We also encourage people who see the ad and wonder if they are doing the right thing to go to the ThinkBlueMaine.org website for more information and also to contact a local lawn care professional who can recommend best practices that do the most for their lawns while having the least negative impact on the environment.

The Governor’s Office shares our view that this ad should not be pulled and will not be pulled. Furthermore, this would not ever be a decision within our department’s purview, as the ad was created through the Think Blue Maine partnership that includes DEP, 28 Maine municipalities, the Board of Pesticides Control and other public and nonprofit entities. I think there is lots to be learned from this experience and both the positive and negative feedback we received that will lead to even more effective education and outreach on this issue moving forward as required under our permit with the Clean Water Act.

Hope that is helpful to you.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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