No, that title is not a mistake. The National Wildlife Federation and Scott’s Miracle Gro have teamed up. This was rumored to be taking place several months ago, but today it has become a reality. While my heart sank when I read the news, I had to ask myself “WHY?”
Why would an organization whose goal is to educate homeowners, schools, and communities about the value of creating wildlife habitat and protecting the environment team up with a corporation who sells billions of dollars of pesticides and other chemicals a year? Scotts also has exclusive distribution right in the US for Roundup, which is owned by Monsanto. Doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, does it?
To understand what’s going on we first have to understand the concept of greenwashing. Here’s my definition:
Greenwashing occurs when one corporation with a tarnished environmental reputation wants to make itself look like it really does care about the environment. So this company pays a LOT of money to an organization that (up until now) has a really good reputation in environmental advocacy.
This way the company with the bad reputation can show off what a good thing it is doing. You’ve heard of guilt by association, right? Well greenwashing is the opposite. It’s trying to associate environmental good deeds by being associated with someone who can make them look better.
As far as I’m concerned, there is no amount of greenwashing in the world that can clean up the reputation of Scotts.
On the other hand, 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 can totally understand Scotts desire for this partnership. Really, who wouldn’t want to have the stamp of approval from one of the most well known wildlife protection, habitat creation, environmental advocates in the country?
As far as why the National Wildlife Federation is concerned, though, all I can say is that I am deeply saddened that they would take this path. My respect for them is greatly diminished by this action, and in my mind they have lost all credibility.
I’m also sad because I have many dear online friends who work for NWF, amazing folks who are doing wonderful work in helping people create wildlife habitat in their gardens, schools, and communities, working to protect wildlife and their natural habitats, working to make the world a better place.
I love these people as individuals and totally support their work! But I am very troubled by this announcement, nonetheless
This partnership is for a very good project, to advance NWF’s nationwide Be Out There initiative to connect children with nature. Of course I’m a big advocate of creating more opportunities for children to be outside, to play and explore the wonders of nature around them!
I mean who can argue with this:
“National Wildlife Federation and Scotts are committed to getting millions more children to play outdoors on a regular basis. This relationship is a win for American childhood, because together we will help families raise healthier and happier children who have a lifelong commitment to protecting wildlife and the natural world,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of NWF. “Through this new partnership, ScottsMiracle-Gro will help NWF’s Be Out There initiative create events, tools and resources that inspire parents to make nature a part of their family’s everyday lives.” ~From the press release sent out by Scotts
But lets think about what kids naturally do while they’re playing, they roll around on the ground, they put their hands in their mouths. Do you really want your kids eating these chemicals? I wouldn’t imagine you would!
The question is, what do we do about this? Well our voices may not compare to large sums of money, but we still have a voice, and we can tell NWF directly how this partnership makes us feel:
- Post your thoughts on NWF’s facebook page (make sure you click the tab that says “Everyone” under the photo bar)
- Tweet your message to NWF on twitter, including @NWF in your message
- Call NWF: 1-800-822-9919 ; M-F 8 a.m to 8 p.m. EST
- Leave a comment on their webiste
So what are your thoughts on this partnership?
[Update 1, 1/24/12 9:04 am: I'll be interviewing David Mizejewski from NWF later this afternoon. What would you like me to ask him? Please post your questions here and I'll make sure to include them in my interview.]
[Update 2, 1/24/12/ 6:02 pm:]
I spoke with David Mizejewski, spokesperson for the National Wildlife Federation about the partnership between NWf and Scotts Miracle Gro this afternoon (I’ll publish that interview tomorrow), and I firmly believe that they have a serious messaging problem. It feels like they are tying themselves in knots trying to defend the indefensible.
See David’s comment below. Do you have any clue how they think that the National Wildlife Federation hopes to continue its mission of creating wildlife habitat while at the same time partnering with a chemical company whose products kill wildlife? Neither do I!
While David is passionate about creating wildlife habitat, protecting songbirds, and reaching more people to help them learn to create more habitat for wildlife in their gardens (and I have long respected and admired his work), I am having a very difficult time understanding how NWF thinks they can overcome the PR nightmare of this.
Think about it, when you see this sentence: “National Wildlife Federation and ScottsMiracle-Gro Create Partnership” don’t you do some kind of double take?
That’s the title of the press release sent out by Scotts. It’s total cognitive dissonance. This does not compute!
Let’s use the National Wildlife Federation’s own words to see if that will help us understand what they think they can gain:
Notice the words “This partnership is in no way an endorsement of ALL of Scott’s products.” So they’re not going to endorse Miracle Gro and Roundup, so what products WOULD they endorse? This point was not missed on our own Vincent Vizachero:
Really! Which products is National Wildlife Federation willing to take a stand and endorse? I would surely like for them to specifically mention which of Scotts products they think is the best that can be done.
In working so hard to try to reach Scotts 30 million customers, the problem is this: the National Wildlife Federation is either willing to blow off all of us who have supported them for so many years (Are we an acceptable loss when it comes to ROI?)
OR, they need to address their message problem. Kudos to all of you because you worked so hard to expose this particular PR nightmare. And, I’m pleased to say that David M. told me they are now willing to listen to us.
Listening is one thing, I would like them to go back to the drawing board and attempt to come up with a message that doesn’t cause us all to say WTH? There are some very smart people who work at NWF, and I am friends with many of them online. If you are so thrilled about this partnership, please come up with a better message. A message that does not leave all of us who have been your biggest fans feeling betrayed, sad, angry, and so much more.
NWF, we want to believe in you. We have been your biggest fans for many years. Please help us understand why you think this is a good idea!
- National Wildlife Federation and Scotts: We’ve Seen This Story Before
- Should the Sign Come Down?
- NWF and Miracle Gro: Perfect Together?
- NWF and Scotts Miracle Gro? NO!!!
- WWRRD? What Would Ranger Rick Do?
- Upset With NWF? Go Local!!
- Scotts and NWF Toxic Partnership
- Severing Ties with NWF
- NWF in Garden Bed With Scotts
- Seriously, NWF?
- Miracle Gro Deal With Wildlife Federation Outrages Environmental Community
- Scotts Miracle Gro and NWF Partner to Get Kids Outside
- Scotts Miracle Gro and NWF have partnered up
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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