Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Case You Haven't Heard About the NWF/Scotts Affair

If you monitor the goings-on in the gardening world, you know that a firestorm is raging that began with the announcement by the National Wildlife Federation that they're partnering with Scotts Miracle-Gro. If you haven't heard about it, I want to make you aware of the impact of this quite frankly, puzzling, partnership.

Snowberry clearwing moth (Hemaris diffinis) aka
Hummingbird Moth on Bee Balm (Monarda sp.)
The National Wildlife Federation has historically been an advocate for wildlife. Their latest move has many of us questioning just how deeply their commitment goes. After all, an organization that claims to care about the environment as it directly relates to living things surely wouldn't partner with a company that does billions of dollars of business a year selling chemicals known to be harmful to the environment, would it?

They did. And many many of us can't understand why. They seem to be strange bedfellows, to say the least.

Roundup® is especially toxic to amphibians.
Don't get me wrong. I don't think Scotts is the devil, as some do. And I'm not for throwing out the baby with the bathwater; Scotts is working towards producing more organic products. I don't want to take away from that. But they do produce many products that are known to harm the very things that the NWF claims to care about. (Roundup®, for one, and it's a BIG one.)

It remains to be seen how this will all play out. The NWF is surprised by the public outcry over their decision to partner with Scotts. It amazes me that they didn't think about the reaction that they might receive before they made that decision. There's been a call for boycotting all things made by Scotts to hit them where it hurts, but as someone has said (sorry, I've read so much I don't recall who it was), many of the people that object the most don't buy Scotts products anyway.

I had our garden here at Our Little Acre certified as a "Wildlife Habitat" in 2008. (See certificate in right sidebar.) The fact that I desire to reduce any harmful effects on the environment and those who live here with me in it by providing a relatively safe place for all of us to live, means that I keep my chemical use to a minimum, if using any at all. (I honestly can't remember the last time I used anything that wasn't organic.) I thought this was the philosophy that the NWF embraced, too. This hook-up leaves many of us not as sure about that as we once were.

Unlike many of those who object to this partnership, I'm not going to tell you how you should feel about it. That's for you to decide. But I did want to help raise awareness of the controversy if you weren't already aware of it. And I have meager hopes that something good might come of this. I am a glass-half-full kind of gal, after all.

For further reading:

UPDATE: NWF posted this on their site today, in an attempt to answer to the concerns of so many:

I sincerely hope that these goals can be met. I have some doubts, due to incongruous statements in Mr. Schweiger's letter. Time will tell. But I think NWF now knows that they've got their work cut out for them, both in achieving their goals and winning back the trust of those supporters they've lost by this action. 


    Susan said...

    My yard is also certified by the NWF and I am very confused by this turn of events. I always admired what I thought they stood for and contributed what I could. Now I am in a wait and see position. If they do not reverse this partnership with Scotts I will no longer support NWF.

    Jennifer said...

    Interesting information, Kylee. Thanks for sharing! I did not know about this.

    Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

    I was pretty disappointed to hear of this, too. I wonder if it's purely financial.. Miracle Gro has a lot of money to throw at their cause. The NWF has always been poorly managed (I know this because I've done marketing with them in the past.) As silly as it may sound I wouldn't be surprised if they jumped at this decision without giving much thought to the repercussions.

    Anonymous said...

    I am stunned to hear that the NWF has partnered with the makers of RoundUp.

    My little yard has been certified for years & I think of it as an urban oasis of safety for all critters.
    I am just thunderstruck & heartsick to hear this.I will be following up with the NWF.

    Sue said...

    They sure used terrible judgement there and it seems that greed has once again caused another great cause to "sell out" to a corporation. Sickening!

    Unknown said...

    Money. People in the right places today are too weak to " tough it out " like their forefathers. And all these chemical companies are just eating it up - throwing a price in front of their face until they bite - like a bass fisherman switching baits until the fish start biting.

    Our only hope - the few humans on earth that will refuse to let go of their high standards and self-respect to hold out and ... wait for GOD to do His thing as is intended.

    What's really, REALLY baffling is... you see many of these very players in churches on Sunday.

    Dave@TheHomeGarden said...

    I'm against this union too but there is always hope for positive change. The thing to remember is Scott's is a company, and their goal is to make money, how they make their money is dependent on us the consumers. If we avoid buying their products in favor of organic or only buy their organic products then their practices will change. Gardener's should be preaching the benefits of organic gardener wherever the opportunity presents itself and attempt to break this addiction to chemicals!

    Good post Kylee!

    Unknown said...

    Oh. My. Goodness. I thought I was fairly well-informed, but obviously not! I hadn't heard about this partnership--and our yard is also NWF certified, plus I own an organic heirloom nursery, which I operate from our home. It's completely hypocritical of me to say I run an organic business, and then display the NWF Wildlife Habitat on our's like supporting everything I fight against with the Scott's partnership. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. Time for me to do some more reading!

    Lona said...

    I had not heard about this Kylee. I am confused and stunned that they would join with Scotts.I try to use organics too as much as possible and watch what I use. They do seem like very strange bedfellows to me.

    Anonymous said...

    Yes, this is extremely confusing and disappointing news. It does feel like a sell-out, like a betrayal. How can a company endorse two things that completely oppose each other in terms of values, and effect on the environment, animals, and people? Very distressing. Thanks for posting that updated link containing their response. I agree that the NWF will have a heck of a job winning back support from people upset by this move.

    CanadianGardenJoy said...

    My goodness Kylee girl hello there !
    Seems like I have lost my way too for visiting blogs .. I have been very low keyed if that is the word to use for being lazy ? LOL
    Now reading this whole uproar about NWF and Scots .. wow ! that could be viewed as strange bed fellows for sure !
    I also have not use "chemicals" for fear of harming any living thing in my garden (well .. ok .. I do hate the Japanese and red beetles but mostly hand/finger squishing, yuck, has been happening) We have had nesting chickadees last year that thrilled the boots of of husband and I .. and now have a special wire globe bird feeder so the smaller birds can feed without the bigger ones bugging them. I was also THRILLED to have a couple of frogs in the garden which I don't know how that happened .. we don't have a pond or ground water to help them out. But to hear them ? WOW !
    OK .. I should have written a letter right ? LOL
    Glad to hear from you girl : )

    garden girl said...

    Whatever financial benefit National Wildlife Federation realized from this ill-fated alliance will likely be more than offset by loss of revenue, trust, credibility, and good will from former supporters. As you say Kylee, time will tell.

    Corner Gardener Sue said...

    I hope it all gets sorted out. Scotts needs to seriously clean house and decide how much they want to impact the environment. Selling greener products and trying to team with an organization that helps the planet's critters can't undo the damage caused by the other products they sell.

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