Miracle Gro Deal with Wildlife Federation Outrages Environmental Community
NOTE: Here is an update on this story, posted at 4 p.m.: http://www.safelawns.org/blog/index.php/2012/01/as-wildlife-federation-defends-its-greed-scotts-continues-to-assault-our-sensibilities/
The attempted whitewashing by the chemical companies has been rampant lately. First TruGreen ChemLawn tried to buy public opinion by sending millions of dollars to Earth Day. Then Scotts Miracle Gro did buy out Major League Baseball.
SafeLawns and its allies were able to block the insidious ChemLawn deal with Earth Day, but Major League Baseball didn’t flinch under a barrage of comments and still hangs “Scotts is Used Here” banners in Major League Baseball ballparks to give homeowners the illusion that they can have Fenway Park in their back yard just by dumping on some weed ‘n feed.
Now Scotts Miracle Go is at it again. In the past two days word has come down that the world’s largest purveyor of lawn chemical poisons has bought its way into the National Wildlife Federation’s heart. This is the non-profit organization that is supposed to be protecting our wildlife and promoting a healthy lifestyle, yet NWF is now grabbing fistfuls of cash from the very company that makes heading outdoors unhealthy for our kids.
The environmental community is outraged.
“As far as I’m concerned, there is no amount of greenwashing in the world that can clean up the reputation of Scotts,” wrote Carole Brown of Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens. “Why would the National Wildlife Federation want to enter into this deal with the devil? Well, they’re a non-profit organization that exists through the generosity of their donors. And what better way to fill their coffers than to enter into an agreement with a company that generates billions of dollars of profits every year? Who cares if that company makes those billions from dumping tons and tons of chemical herbicides and pesticides into our lawns and gardens, which then runs off wreaking havoc with our streams and watersheds? I care!”
We first heard about this yesterday from our friend and colleague, Joe Lamp’l, the host of Growing a Greener World on PBS. As we were touring our organic lawn trials at the University of Maryland, Joe told us the blogs were afire and folks were calling on SafeLawns to help draw attention to an obvious miscarriage of social justice.
Many other associates began calling us, too, and then posting their opinions on the National Wildlife Foundation Facebook page. Emotions are clearly raw.
“I really really looked up to the NWF as a kid (which I became aware of through reading Ranger Rick!!), and hoped someday I could have a yard certified as a NWF approved backyard habitat,” wrote poster Mary Lai. “It really breaks my heart to see the NWF partner up with a company like Scotts Miracle Gro. I know the economy is going through lean times, but this just isn’t the right way to get funding. “
Many were calling on friends, followers and colleagues to make life miserable for the NWF. It was the kind of tactic that got Earth Day to cave two years ago and rescind the ChemLawn money. Some suggest tweeting a message to NWF on twitter, including @NWF in your message, or calling NWF: 1-703-438-6000 to chat with the organization’s headquarters.
It’s obvious the NWF is already taking note of the concern and the organization’s PR team is out in force defending its decision and claiming that taking the cash doesn’t equate to a defacto endorsement of Scotts Miracle Gro or its products.
But, of course, it does.
Our board at SafeLawns has long insisted that we review the product offerings of the companies from whom we accept corporate sponsorships. And even though companies like Scotts Miracle Gro do offer a smattering of so-called organic products these days, the vast majority of their stuff is wildly polluting and incredibly toxic for our pets and our kids. So we’d never accept their money under any circumstances. The National Wildlife Federation shouldn’t, either — not until Scotts Miracle Gro stands up and denounces the production, distribution and sale of its products like Roundup, weed ‘n feed, Bug Be Gone and all the myriad products that have been proven to be toxic.
My gut feeling here is that NWF won’t cave to the pressure and it will keep the money. They’ll justify it when they crawl into bed at night with the notion that they’re “cleaning up” Scotts dirty profits. A lot of non-profits feel this way; they don’t care where the money comes from as long as they do good things with the money. Do you think the Catholic church does a background check on everyone before it passes the hat down the pew? Well, neither do most other organizations who otherwise try to do good work with whatever cash they can scrape together.
I’ve also heard impassioned arguments from folks I respect greatly who feel that it’s best to work with the worst environmental offenders from the inside out. Recently I heard Peter Seligmann, the charismatic founder of Conservation International, explain his decision to accept money and other support from WalMart several years ago. The result of his efforts was WalMart’s decision to adopt numerous green initiatives and the company is now the largest seller of organic food in the world.
Seligmann’s well-thought-out “keep your environmental enemies close” strategy has helped effect real change, in other words. WalMart may still be doing some bad stuff, but it’s better than it used to be. That’s how begrudgingly difficult progress happens.
The real problem in the Scotts Miracle Gro marriage with National Wildlife is that nothing in NWF’s rhetoric, so far at least, acknowledges that Scotts Miracle Gro has heretofore been killing the environment. Nothing in the press release states that there’s a goal in place to reduce environmental toxins sold by its newfound benefactor. All NWF appears to be presenting is a series of events that gives Scotts a chance to pretend to give a damn about the environment.
Scotts Miracle Gro continues to claim publicly that its products are safe when used as directed — and the whole damn environmental community knows it’s a lie. NWF knows it’s a lie, too.
So, yes. Please post your opinions to the NWF Facebook page. Leave a message on the organization’s web site: http://www.nwf.org/About/Contact-Us.aspx.
If NWF is going to keep this money then we need to make the organization understand just how soiled we think it has become.