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What’s Right With This Picture? Joe Knows

At a Home Depot in Rhode Island these three insect-killing products were side by side and priced identically yesterday. Only one of them is safe to use around your home, however.

It’s that time of year here in New England when most lawns have been fertilized and most dandelions have passed and gone to seed, if they weren’t killed by the weed ‘n feed. So the stores have begun pushing the insect killers instead.

I nearly tripped over this display, above, at my local Home Depot last night while hurriedly looking for any organic potting soil that WASN’T manufactured by Scotts Miracle Gro.

All three of these bottles contain products to kill insects and all were selling for seven bucks on a special. And one of them is actually safe enough to use around our kids, pets and water bodies.

I just had to take out my iPhone to snap this shot. Just a few years ago the idea of a natural, safe product in every Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart across the nation would have been unthinkable. And the idea that such a product would sell for the same price as cheap synthetic chemicals? That would have been pure fantasy.

EcoSMART’s suppliers actually have to grow their ingredients in a field somewhere; they can’t just stir them up in a chemical pot. They contract with agents for herb farmers for their peppermint and rosemary oils. And when you look at their labels on their containers they actually spell everything out clearly.

Whereas Ortho and Spectracide hide behind the word “inert” for all the ingredients in their products that they don’t want to tell us about, EcoSMART tells us its insect killer contains 91 percent “other ingredients” and then lists them. All of them.

The most conspicuous things you WON’T find on the label of an EcoSMART container are the words CAUTION, WARNING or DANGER, or KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN.

As much as I was delighted to see EcoSMART standing toe to toe with the synthetic chemical products last night, I couldn’t help but notice that the store’s merchandiser was providing twice the retail space for the toxic chemical products. That, according to the department manager, was simply a factor of sales. More people were coming through the door looking for the poisons due to a larger, louder marketing message. And more people were buying the poisons due to the perception that they killed the bugs more dead.

“I use the EcoSMART and it works,” said Joe, the department manager. “But sometimes you can’t convince the customer that something containing herbs is really going to work.”

It’s catching on, though, according to Joe.

“Hey, I didn’t even know about EcoSMART until two years ago when it showed up here,” he said. “I’ve restocked the EcoSMART three times this week, so I think it’s here to stay. It’s good stuff.”

Joe knows a good thing when he sees one.

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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