“We believe that the activist community was involved in this decision by Wal-Mart.”

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 12/05/2006 - 06:01.


In a fascinating greenwash article coming out in the Plain Dealer today, readers are offered an in-depth look into the lobbying efforts of industry to influence legislation impacting our environment, with a key example being action against the environment at the Ohio statehouse. The article, "Fertilizer companies battle environmental concerns", addresses the impact on the rest of the world of Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. in Marysville, Ohio, and Lesco Inc. in Cleveland,  the leading sellers of fertilizer for homeowners and lawn care professionals. The issue is their products harm the environment... the spin is discussion about how "America’s lawn-care industry is fighting back, liberally spreading its own green-sounding message." "The industry’s front-line tool: a lobbying group with a green-sounding name — Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, or RISE."

The article has a pro-industry feel, as would be expected from the PD, but raises an interesting observation that is consistent with excellent developments in recent months, where some unexpected business and governement forces are helping save human life and the environment, despite efforts of forces like RISE and the PD. Consider, " Scotts meantime faces another challenge from one of its major customers, Wal-Mart. Promoting itself as environmentally responsible, Wal-Mart in October announced it would pressure suppliers to stop using three chemicals, including the insecticide permethrin, used in pesticides that Scotts sells through Wal-Mart stores."

Kinda makes you think about how all the fast food chains are now dropping transfats. In that cae, the market force was NYNY, but in the end the message is an intelligent market can change industry.

As the PD article quotes, about WalMart: " “Companies were surprised, and they’re trying to get clarification from Wal-Mart, as are we,” says RISE’s James. “We believe that the activist community was involved in this decision by Wal-Mart.” "

Read the PD article on this here


Avoid Pesticides Sign.JPG55.35 KB
Against Pesticide Yard.JPG91.18 KB

oh those damned activists!!!!

Geez, what a problem for these lawn care companies. They are really in a sticky wicket aren’t they? I have posted about the issue here. This article is timely since just two days ago I had posted about another Florida community on Green City Blue Lake.


Being from Florida (where my father had us out planting little sprigs of grass in our sandy lawn every change he got a chance), this issue strikes a chord with me.


I am not bemoaning the potential loss of revenue for lawn chemical manufacturers, but wondering what students locally are researching alternatives for these companies. Not unlike leaf and yard waste recycling companies and those who sell organic compounds for use on gardens, companies like Scott’s could do the math and realize that they might be more solvent in 50 years if they rethought the component chemicals in their product line. They could end up like the paint companies – in the legal soup for poisoning millions of people. Look what happened to the dust bowl . Will our grandchildren live in a puddle of toxic muck? Do we live in one today? We see farther when we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. Maybe Scott’s should look farther backward and forward than today’s stock price.

We all may be activists

It is interesting the article above references court action in Canada that ruled against the lawn chemical industry, and the picture I just added to the start of this posting is from a yard in Canada. There, people take real pride in being activists, in litttle and big ways. One nice little way people in NEO could become environmental acitivists would be to avoid pesticides and fertilizer on their yards and brag about their activism with signs like this. As you can see at the end of the above posting, the yard with this sign is as lovely as any you'll ever find with pesticides.

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What really shcoks me about PD environment coverage

I find it astounding that the place the Plain Dealer "reports" on environmental issues is in the "Business" section... shows where their viewpoint lies. While they have an entire weekly section dedicated to home and garden... called something like "Inside and Out"... on Thursdays, I believe, an article of interest to gardeners is is business!?!?! While they have the front and metro sections dedicated to news for regular folk, and a real estate magazine on Saturdays, they report on lead poisoning in business. Now that I think about it, they did have a massive article in growing a green lawn, in early Fall, in "Inside and Out", largely written by Scotts experts, which basically said put lots of fertilizer and pesticide on your lawn, at least three or four times a year.

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the science Scott's needs

Now if Scott’s retooled their product line they could make millions more. Think of the demand for environmental clean up. The science is apparently out there already according to this 1992 article from the Biotechnology Industry Organization from the National Health Museum’s Access Excellence website. Be sure to click through to read Why It Matters.

And there is this news about bioremediation from New Orleans:

The Meg Perry Healthy Soil Project  is committed to providing New Orleans residents with the necessary resources and tools to clean up contaminated soil in their homes and communities.

Testing: In October and November of 2005, Common Ground recruited skilled volunteers to do water/soil sampling, coordinate the sharing of this data with government health organizations, distribute pertinent information to the public on potential hazards and develop bioremediation efforts for the soil.

Currently, we are working to develop a system of widespread soil sampling and analysis that is accessible all New Orleans residents regardless of economic standing.

Remediation: We use a combination of phytoremediation, mycoremediation and bioremediation to begin processes of decontamination for the residents of New Orleans. To date, our efforts focus on the Ninth Ward Neighborhood as well as other neighborhoods with potentially dangerous levels of contamination.

Plants (Phytoremediation): Plants are one of the main ways to remove toxins from your yard and to improve soil heath. All plants naturally absorb nutrients from the soil and store them in their roots, shoots, and/or leaves. Some absorb toxins in significant amounts- these are called hyper-accumulators and are most useful in restoring your soil. Certain plants absorb certain toxins. Some of the best hyper-accumulators are sunflowers and Indian mustard greens. Other plants carry beneficial bacteria on their rhizomes that will help the decomposition process of different pesticides and petrochemicals. Common Ground helps New Orleans residents determine what specific plants will restore their soil's health and can often help with the planting process itself.

Mushrooms and Fungi (Mycoremediation): Mushrooms are decomposers, meaning that they break down dead things in the environment. In the same way that mushrooms decompose organisms, they break down petrochemicals and pesticides into non-toxic substances. Certain toxins are broken down better by certain mushrooms. The Oyster mushroom is particularly useful for the toxins that Common Ground is trying to get out of the soils of New Orleans. By growing the mycelia (the underground part of the mushroom) in a sterile environment we can produce a great deal of mushrooms and grow them on a bed of woodchips. The enzymes that the mushrooms produce break down the toxins we are targeting.

The Meg Perry Healthy Soil Project is developing a system to provide mycelia at a large-scale to residents with high levels of petrochemicals and pesticides in their community.

Bacteria--Compost Tea: Compost Tea is a water-based brew made of millions of air loving microorganisms which can be applied to soils, plants and flood sediment to boost the bacterial health of those areas and begin to detoxify the soil. By adding naturally occurring bacteria into the soil we can jump-start the natural process of breaking down toxins. Compost tea can be especially effective in breaking down petrochemicals. It is also an important first step in preparing toxic sites for growing plants that will take up some of the city’s most abundant heavy metals.

The Meg Perry Healthy Soil Project has a brewing system in place, so that we can regularly apply compost tea to the sites that we are currently remediating. We want to construct additional systems in many New Orleans neighborhoods in order to make this easy form of remediation accessible to residents throughout the city.

Common Contamination
Arsenic: Arsenic levels in New Orleans were high before the storm, with a LouisianaNew Orleans comes from the use of household chemicals such as herbicides, insecticides, pesticides and some fertilizers. This heavy metal can increase the risk of cancer, damage the brain and nervous system, harm the reproductive system and alter genetic material.
background acceptable level much higher than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acceptable level. Much of the arsenic found in

Lead: Lead contamination was high in New Orleans before Katrina due to historic use of lead paint, leaded gasoline and emissions from garbage incinerators. These sources of contamination spread during the flood. Flooded car batteries also increased lead levels in many neighborhoods. Lead may damage the brain and nervous system, cause reproductive problems, and induce developmental disorders. Lead poisoing symptoms include a decline in intellectual ability. Lead exposure is particularly dangerous for children.

Petrochemical: Petrochemical contamination includes diesel fuel, crude oil, and compounds from petroleum production. These contaminates come fro oil spills and the flooding of cars and underground fuel storage tanks. Exposure to crude oil can cause skin problems if the sediment gets on bare or broken skin. Contact with crude oil for short periods may cause respiratory infections, itchy, red, sore or peeling skin. These effects increase with sun exposure. One of the dangers of petrochemicals is the existence of PAHs and Organo Chlorines.

Now imagine that with plenty of these contaminants in Cleveland soils, we began with compost tea and followed by planting vacant lots with sunflowers and mustard greens to accumulate the toxins? We need the expertise of the scientists at universities to get started. I know that there is a brownfield mapping project, but what are the city’s or county’s plans for remediation? While we work in our own backyards to avoid future brownfields and dead waterways, can we begin to repair the already affected areas, too?

This is fascinating - next step is activism

What an insightful posting. And I really appreciate the context of my second home of NOLA. There is a remarkable experiment of accepting disaster and having to rise above that and do all things right from scratch - in NEO we have not accepted disaster, as has not America, although the rest of America is awakening. Consider, as you say, that we have the same contaminants. Consider addressing them today before ecological emergency. We are not, but we could and be a most progressive community in the world. But we are so dumbed down here - sustainability this and business agents that - we read the PD about how Scotts says we should use pesticides and fertilizers to make our lawns green instead of being educated to use intelligence to make our environment and people healthy. No initiative could be more valuable for the region than a new movement toward true environmentalism - that is how we may shake off the rust belt stigma that is so visually clear as people living in an environment of rust. Do we have enough people who care to rise above the mainstream media and industrial complex to say we are ACTIVISTS for the environment, and we are not seeking funding for salaries but change? I really don't know. I'm one. You are one. Can we make a difference? Otherwise, as I was saying to a friend today, NEO will languish in rust as the rest of the world becomes activist, and changes th world, and we will continue to be viewed as a global problem, and an embarrassment, and we will be pulled up kicking and screaming in calamity, yet far from respected for anything, and far from where progressive people want to live and work.

On the bright side, I was thrilled to see today a bicycle commutor riding down Detroit, through the snow and ice, as all the SUVs were stuck in traffic - there are some cool people here.

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