Did any of you catch the beleaguered CEO of the National Wildlife Federation defiantly attempt to justify his recent deal with Scotts Miracle Gro that we reported on earlier today? Looking more like a man who will probably be forced to resign soon than someone we ought to trust with our important environmental decisions, Larry Schweiger declared, “I will not apologize for working with Scotts.”
The full interview, conducted awkwardly by long-time NWF staffer Kevin Coyle, can be watched here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/presidential-response-01-25-12. It really does come off as an incredibly interesting case study of an organization that just made the worst public relations move of its career — with little or no skill set in place for spin control. Every time Coyle tried to ask Schweiger about the toxicity of Roundup and weed ‘n feed, the CEO grimaced and said, “We don’t have to agree on everything in order to work together to find answers to the tough problems.”
Time and time again in the interview Schweiger insisted that it was better to deal with this devil, Scotts Miracle Gro, from close range. That way, he said, he can help Scotts become better environmental citizen.
“They want to change. They want to be a better company,” said Schweiger.
I couldn’t help but wonder if Jim Hagedorn, the CEO of Scotts Miracle Gro, signed up for that ringing endorsement when he signed the check over to Schweiger. Do you really think Hagedorn thinks his company needs to improve its environmental record?
More likely, though, Hagedorn wasn’t watching Schweiger squirm. Instead he was probably paying close attention in Florida today where his company is leading a fierce battle to overturn that state’s many bans on the applications of lawn fertilizer containing nitrogen. The fertilizer runs off during the rainy season and creates massive blooms of red-tide. That’s bad for the state’s fishing and tourism industry — something you think the National Wildlife Federation should care about — but a ban on the fertilizers in the nation’s second largest lawn care market has been also bad for Scotts’ bottom line.
Think about that. On the very day Schweiger defends Scotts in front of a camera looking like his tie is three clenches too tight, Scotts is a few states away making Schweiger’s decision looking more asinine by the hour.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Club asked everyone in Florida to take a look at this map that shows where the fertilizer runoff is having a huge impact:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=enmpa=0ctz=300mpf=0vps=15ie=UTF8oe=UTF8msa=0msid=211539618625491573613.0004b1b520a27d0c8cb86. Wouldn’t disseminating that kind of information be a better use of NWF’s time than defending its recent money grab?
Near the end of the interview Schweiger insisted that he’s been an environmental activist his whole career for the sake of his grandkids — like the kids everywhere who roll around in lawn care poisons at 30 million homes from Maine to California.
It seems to me, if I could make a suggestion to the National Wildlife Federation, that there’s an real opportunity at hand here if Mr. Schweiger really does care about his progeny and the planet.
He needs to stand up tall — and loud — and say he’s sorry. He needs to say he made a bad decision in taking the Scotts money. He needs to say he won’t take another dollar from Scotts or any company like it until the companies stop making products that can poison his grandkids.
That would effect change. That would (or might) MAKE Scotts take notice. That would fulfill the mission of the National Wildlife Federation and restore the trust for tens of thousands of supporters who were disillusioned this week.
Until he does that the tie is only going to get tighter.
Tags: CT Gardening, environmental citizen, environmental decisions, environmental record, fierce battle, florida today, garden tips, jim hagedorn, kevin coyle, lawn fertilizer, national wildlife federation, organic gardening, presidential response, red tide, schweiger, scotts miracle gro, Southeast CT Garden pics, ustream tv