Citing Guilty Plea, Wildlife Federation Ends Agreement with Scotts

SafeLawns followers are celebrating a victory today.

Succumbing to a barrage of criticism from the environmental community — and in the wake of a guilty plea from Scotts Miracle Gro in federal court — the National Wildlife Federation announced to members this afternoon that is would end its sponsorship deal with the world’s largest purveyor of toxic lawn and garden products.

The announcement of a promotional deal between Scotts and NWF posted 10 days ago confounded thousands of followers of the organization known for its environmental stewardship programs. The organization’s leadership steadfastly defended its deal last week, but apparently had no idea that Scotts Miracle Gro would soon plead guilty last Thursday to charges of falsifying documents and selling bird seed tainted with pesticides that are toxic to birds.

At approximately 4 p.m. today, Ed Coleman, the general manager of customer service at NWF, issued this statement:

“The National Wildlife Federation has worked together with Scotts Miracle-Gro over the past two years on programs to educate gardeners about global warming, connect children to the outdoors and help restore habitat following the Gulf oil disaster. Both parties recently announced plans for an even broader partnership that was based on our common interests.

“Since that time, Scotts announced a pending legal settlement related to events in 2008 that predate our partnership, which has made it clear that the partnership is not viable. Therefore, NWF and Scotts will work together to end the partnership in a friendly and mutually beneficial way.

“National Wildlife Federation appreciates your continuing support.”

Coleman also posted his email ( and phone number (703-438-6205) with the message.

Reaction was celebratory, even euphoric, from SafeLawns followers who have been emailing, phoning and protesting in various ways in the past week.

“We won!” said Marie Ross. “This proves the power of social media once again.”

“It’s too bad it took the federal court case for the NWF to come to its senses, but at least it did,” said Jonathan R. Douglass.

Many others thanked SafeLawns directly for helping to lead a charge last week with a series of postings about the story.

“Thanks, Paul, for all you do,” said a message from a group known as StopPesticidesinNeedham. “I suspect all our letters combined with the reality that Scotts is such a dirty company made the NWF realize this was not good.”

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Miracle Gro Deal with Wildlife Federation Outrages Environmental Community

The attempted whitewashing by the chemical companies has been rampant lately. First TruGreen ChemLawn tried to buy public opinion by sending millions of dollars to Earth Day. Then Scotts Miracle Gro did buy out Major League Baseball.

SafeLawns and its allies were able to block the insidious ChemLawn deal with Earth Day, but Major League Baseball didn’t flinch under a barrage of comments and still hangs “Scotts is Used Here” banners in Major League Baseball ballparks to give homeowners the illusion that they can have Fenway Park in their back yard just by dumping on some weed ‘n feed.

Now Scotts Miracle Go is at it again. In the past two days word has come down that the world’s largest purveyor of lawn chemical poisons has bought its way into the National Wildlife Federation’s heart. This is the non-profit organization that is supposed to be protecting our wildlife and promoting a healthy lifestyle, yet NWF is now grabbing fistfuls of cash from the very company that makes heading outdoors unhealthy for our kids.

The environmental community is outraged.

“As far as I’m concerned, there is no amount of greenwashing in the world that can clean up the reputation of Scotts,” wrote Carole Brown of Native Plants Wildlife Gardens. “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 care!”

We first heard about this yesterday from our friend and colleague, Joe Lamp’l, the host of Growing a Greener World on PBS. As we were touring our organic lawn trials at the University of Maryland, Joe told us the blogs were afire and folks were calling on SafeLawns to help draw attention to an obvious miscarriage of social justice.

Many other associates began calling us, too, and then posting their opinions on the National Wildlife Foundation Facebook page. Emotions are clearly raw.

“I really really looked up to the NWF as a kid (which I became aware of through reading Ranger Rick!!), and hoped someday I could have a yard certified as a NWF approved backyard habitat,” wrote poster Mary Lai. “It really breaks my heart to see the NWF partner up with a company like Scotts Miracle Gro. I know the economy is going through lean times, but this just isn’t the right way to get funding. ”

Many were calling on friends, followers and colleagues to make life miserable for the NWF. It was the kind of tactic that got Earth Day to cave two years ago and rescind the ChemLawn money. Some suggest tweeting a message to NWF on twitter, including @NWF in your message, or calling NWF: 1-703-438-6000 to chat with the organization’s headquarters.

It’s obvious the NWF is already taking note of the concern and the organization’s PR team is out in force defending its decision and claiming that taking the cash doesn’t equate to a defacto endorsement of Scotts Miracle Gro or its products.

But, of course, it does.

Our board at SafeLawns has long insisted that we review the product offerings of the companies from whom we accept corporate sponsorships. And even though companies like Scotts Miracle Gro do offer a smattering of so-called organic products these days, the vast majority of their stuff is wildly polluting and incredibly toxic for our pets and our kids. So we’d never accept their money under any circumstances. The National Wildlife Federation shouldn’t, either — not until Scotts Miracle Gro stands up and denounces the production, distribution and sale of its products like Roundup, weed ‘n feed, Bug Be Gone and all the myriad products that have been proven to be toxic.

My gut feeling here is that NWF won’t cave to the pressure and it will keep the money. They’ll justify it when they crawl into bed at night with the notion that they’re “cleaning up” Scotts dirty profits. A lot of non-profits feel this way; they don’t care where the money comes from as long as they do good things with the money. Do you think the Catholic church does a background check on everyone before it passes the hat down the pew? Well, neither do most other organizations who otherwise try to do good work with whatever cash they can scrape together.

I’ve also heard impassioned arguments from folks I respect greatly who feel that it’s best to work with the worst environmental offenders from the inside out. Recently I heard Peter Seligmann, the charismatic founder of Conservation International, explain his decision to accept money and other support from WalMart several years ago. The result of his efforts was WalMart’s decision to adopt numerous green initiatives and the company is now the largest seller of organic food in the world.

Seligmann’s well-thought-out “keep your environmental enemies close” strategy has helped effect real change, in other words. WalMart may still be doing some bad stuff, but it’s better than it used to be. That’s how begrudgingly difficult progress happens.

The real problem in the Scotts Miracle Gro marriage with National Wildlife is that nothing in NWF’s rhetoric, so far at least, acknowledges that Scotts Miracle Gro has heretofore been killing the environment. Nothing in the press release states that there’s a goal in place to reduce environmental toxins sold by its newfound benefactor. All NWF appears to be presenting is a series of events that gives Scotts a chance to pretend to give a damn about the environment.

Scotts Miracle Gro continues to claim publicly that its products are safe when used as directed — and the whole damn environmental community knows it’s a lie. NWF knows it’s a lie, too.

So, yes. Please post your opinions to the NWF Facebook page. Leave a message on the organization’s web site:

If NWF is going to keep this money then we need to make the organization understand just how soiled we think it has become.

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Compare Pressure Washing Prices

Compare Pressure Washing Prices

Wooden fence

It takes a certain type of person to want to do all the little jobs around the house, to actually want to learn how to do something that they have not tackled before. For most, hiring somebody else to a job is the best alternative. Even those who like to do for themselves, sometimes it just makes more sense to leave it to the professionals.

When deciding on hiring somebody for a project, a big thing to consider is what the cost will be. Anyone doing a project for you will usually give you a quote of how much it will cost to have the job done. Choosing which company to use often boils down to finding who will do it with the least expense to you.

Pressure washing is one of those jobs that is often best left to the professionals since they will know what pressure levels to use on different surfaces, what cleaning solutions to use, and the best method for the cleaning. These things can be quite a chore for a first timer, and a pressure washing company should already know the answers.

When looking into pressure washing prices you will find that some companies can give a solid quote even over the phone. There are some companies that charge a flat rate for every house, though. Keep in mind that although these companies and their rates sound enticing, a non-personalized price most likely means a non-personalized job.

But if you want to get an accurate quote, the more reputable companies will only give pressure washing prices after they have seen the area to be cleaned, and will usually give such quotes free of charge. They will take into consideration all the different factors and details of the job and charge you accordingly. This usually means that they will tailor their work to the specific needs of your house.

Low pressure washing prices may not be as good a deal as you think, since sometimes it might also mean that the company is a quick start up one that is making some fast cash and will soon close. This happens because the start up costs of this type of business are fairly low. Low prices might also mean that the company will do a worse job.

In order to find a good company and be sure that you are getting what you want and good value for money, you should ask around and find out what company your friends and neighbors have been happy with. This way you should also know what companies to avoid.

Another source for information on good pressure washing companies is from the Internet. You may find customer reviews on the services provided by different companies. Also, if you suspect that there may be something wrong with a company that you contact you can get in touch with the Better Business Bureau and see if they have a record of bad business.

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March in Color

Everyday new flowers and blooms are coming to our garden this March. Spring is officially here, even if the calendar doesn’t agree. We still have a good chance of frost between now and mid April but so far everything is looking grand! The maple trees have bloomed although many people don’t stop to observe them. The willows are growing catkins and in general the flowers are going wild! I spent a great deal of my weekend in the garden and not only enjoy the scents of the hyacinths but also the smell of the dirt. That old familiar smell I missed so much over the winter. I bet we all did.  Coneflowers are beginning to sprout leaves along with hostas, rudbeckia, and many many others. It’s a great time to get out and garden!

If you follow The Home Garden on Facebook you might recognize this crocus photo from yesterday. I thought the coloring of purple and white petals was so neat I just had to share it!

The Bradford pear trees and forsythias brighten up our front yard while the daffodils are still going strong!

This flowering almond (Prunus grandulosa) is about to break buds. It’s located to the right of the forsythia in the front corner garden. I put it there for a second succession of blooms after the forsythia are mostly finished. Hopefully my timing will work out!

The ‘Forest Pansy’ Redbud is very close to blooming. I’m expecting a great show from the redbud flowers this spring. The heart shaped leaves will remain purple through the cooler months then turn green in the heat of the summer.

Muscari or grape hyacinths are popping up in various places. I’m not sure when or where I got them but I’m glad they are here.

Near the back patio is this little garden. The Japanese maple in the back offers foliage the rest of the year but the daffodils and hyacinths take the spring time stage. I need to clean out the brown foliage from the Ponytail Grass (Mexican feather grass).

My only blooming hellebore is still putting on a show. I really need to prune off the brown frost bitten leaves.

The phlox will be full of flowers in a few days. A couple lonely blooms are giving a preview.

I’ve meant to take pictures of these Okame cherry trees every year but I’ve only now managed to remember to bring the camera! Okame cherry trees (Prunus x incamp) are the first cherry trees to bloom each spring and put on a massive display. Our town landscaped a roadway with a long line of cherry trees – I LIKE IT! Now if I could only find one near me cheaper than $100…

I hope you enjoyed the flowers from Spring Hill, Tennessee. For a look at what else is blooming around the blogosphere go visit Carol!

Originally written by Dave @ The Home Garden
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Homemade Childproofing: Adapting to a Growing Child

Many people think that childproofing a home means just putting locks on the cabinets and putting a little foam on table corners. As the children grow, the standard treatments don’t always work, and it may require a little home remodeling.

As children grow, they start getting stronger and smarter, to the point where they can either unlatch the locks or simply rip them from the cabinets. It’s then that you have to come up with alternative means to keep them out, and that may mean a trip the hardware store.

Padlocks: Plastic locks on cabinets just weren’t working any more. My children were able to pull on them hard enough to loosen it and get inside the cabinets. It’s not that big of a deal if they get into the pantry for some cookies, but if they get into the cleaning supplies of silverware drawer, then it can be serious. I went to the local hardware store and purchased a large metal lock that can only be opened with a combination and placed it on both the silverware and cleaning drawer. It’s a bit more of a hassle for us, but it’s worth it if I don’t have to rush to the emergency room.

Super glue: Our refrigerator has been the target of heinous crimes by our children. We have lost gallons of milk and dozens of eggs, and we finally got around to putting on a fridge lock. It was fine for a while, but the adhesive wasn’t the greatest, and my children ripped it off. Yeah, I know. I have superhuman children. They get it from their dad. I bought some superglue and glued them to the fridge. They aren’t going anywhere. Ever. Make sure to stay near the locks until they are completely dry, so children don’t get their fingers in the glue.

Homemade coverings: There are several plug-ins at our house that we don’t use. We simply don’t have that many electronics, so we have lots of those plastic plug-in covers. My middle child now has the ability to pull out the plastic plugs, and I have had to resort to homemade covers. It’s a rather simple contraption of small pieces of wood that I have nailed together that completely covered the entire socket. I then screwed the entire apparatus to the wall. It’s not the prettiest site, but I don’t have to worry about my children being electrocuted.

When it comes to children, safety is one of the most important duties of being a parent. They are natural explorers, and when the store-bought locks aren’t working, then it’s time to get creative. Do whatever it takes to make sure your children stay out of trouble. Please share some of the ways you have adapted childproofing techniques.

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Growing Shallots from Seed (Seed Sowing Saturday!)

Welcome to the first Seed Sowing Saturday of 2011! Where all of us seed starting fanatics recap our weekly seed starting experiences and share with each other what we’re working on, how we’re doing it all, and of course the results!

I chose to start my seed sowing this week by starting shallots. We do a great deal of our cooking in the kitchen with yellow onions and I love the red ones grilled but I think by far the best all around cooking onion is the shallot. It doesn’t have the overwhelming strong taste like the red onions and has a nicer flavor than the yellow onions. The only problem with shallots is that they are so expensive. So to increase the quality of our cooking without raising the grocery expenses we are going to attempt to grow shallots.

I like to use everyday kitchen trays to hold out seed starting pots. They are cheap and easily available. I filled this one with 16 small round peat pots. In the past I’ve used all kinds of plastic yogurt containers with holes poked in the bottom but I happened to have some small peat pots in the garage that were handy.

I added a commercial seed starting mix. It’s one of the easiest ways to go and is available in organic versions. Many people make their own formulas for seed starting mix but I haven’t as of yet (I’m interested in hearing about your soil mix if you have one!) After adding the mix to the pots I watered the tray and allowed the water to soak into the pots and the soil.

In went the shallot seeds! I placed two per pot for a total of 32 shallots. I hope they all germinate but there will probably be some seeds that are no longer viable. Onions have shorter shelf life than many other plants and these seeds have been around a little while.Even if only half of the seeds germinate I’ll still have a nice crop of shallots.

In our upstairs closet I have a grow light set up for our seed starting. It’s just an old fluorescent shop lamp but it’s always done a great job. I like to adjust the height so that it is close to the seeds. Once the seedlings are old enough I’ll harden them off to the outdoors and plant them as onion sets in the garden.

 Next week I hope to make my seed purchase for this year’s seeds. I usually go with heirlooms so that I can save the seeds but I may try a few hybrid summer squashes to see if any can resist the squash bugs, borers, and the rot issues I had last year. We love our summer squash around here and get cranky when we can’t grow it!

What’s going on with your Seed Sowing Saturday? Don’t forget to leave a link to your post below in the comments!

Originally written by Dave @ The Home Garden
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Tile Vs. Linoleum: A Flooring Dilemma

Several years ago, I had the unfortunate opportunity to help my father-in-law tile his kitchen floor and can honestly say that it was not one of my favorite experiences. Even though the tile has a beautiful end result, it can be a pain to put down.

I have linoleum in my kitchen, and I am not very fond of it myself. Honestly, though, I realized that in a battle between these two giants, I don’t know which one I would pick. They both have their fair share of pros and cons.

I think it is safe to say that the end product of tiling looks beautiful, especially if you have taken the time to pick the best color and texture for your kitchen or bathroom. When I helped my father-in-law, he had purchased several extra tiles in case of breakage, and that was a good investment.

The basic process of laying tile is simple. You start at one end of the room and place a piece of tile on the floor, putting a spacer in between the tiles to allow for the placement of the grout. The difficult part comes when you get to the other end of the room. Unless you are incredibly lucky, the final tiles at the end of the room will not be a perfect fit and will have to be cut.

There are electronic cutters that make the experience much easier, but my father-in-law used a manual cutter that was about as fun to use as an unplugged toaster. Basically, the cutter scores a line in the tile, and when the tile breaks, it does so along the score… ideally. It’s not always the case, though, and we went though many tiles because they broke every which way. Also, if you want your kitchen to look perfect, you need to be meticulous when you measure.

Once the tile has been laid, you fill in the spaces with grout to solidify the whole thing and voila! You’re done. If you don’t do a good job (and with two tiling novices such as me and my father-in-law, we did not do a good job), then the grout will eventually deteriorate and the tiles can become loose. Yeah, it doesn’t look good. This shouldn’t happen if you actually do everything correctly.

Linoleum is by far the easiest of the two to put down. There is adhesive on the back of the linoleum, and you just unpeel the protective covering and stick it down. When you get to the end of the room and need to cut it to size, a utility knife will do the trick with ease. The final product doesn’t look nearly as good as tile, but it takes you a quarter of the time. A drawback is that over time, the adhesive on the back of the tile can wear out, and it will start to curl and come up. Also, linoleum is much less expensive than the faux stone and textured tiles.

When it comes time for me to redo my floors, I would like to use tile because I love the look. Sure, it will take me longer than linoleum and it will be a pain, but I’ll make sure to buy plenty of extra tiles. I’m going to need them.

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The Ups and Downs of Using Snow Throwers

Every year after the snowfall, I promise myself that I am going to buy a snow thrower, and every year after the snow melts, I tell myself they are a waste of time and money.

For those of you blessed with warm weather climates, there are basically two ways to remove snow from a sidewalk and driveway. You can shovel it, which can be back-breaking work (and more than one person has had a heart attack while shoveling snow) or you can buy a snow thrower.

This machination basically acts as a snow till. Starting at one end, you turn on the snow thrower and the blades under the machine rotate and catch the snow. The snow is thrown out of the way, thus clearing a path. Growing up, I would see people with these and think, Why would you spend your money on that? Snow shoveling isn’t that big a deal. Then I got older.

Suddenly, lifting up that snow with a shovel takes a lot more effort, and it usually leaves my back aching for several days afterward. If it is a particularly bad snow storm or one that last a few days, my frozen butt is out there several times a day making sure that people don’t slip on my sidewalks and that my car can get out of the driveway.

My neighbor pulls out his monster, and the driveway is clear in five minutes. Then he’s back inside with hot cocoa. It’s during this time that I usually curse the idea that I didn’t buy one when they were cheap during the summer and vow to get one come spring. I am way too cheap to pay full price during the winter.

When the spring finally gets here and the snow melts, my mind once again reverts back to the old ways. It’s probably been several weeks since I shoveled snow, and my back has since recovered. In other words, I am invincible again.

I convince myself that the snow thrower isn’t worth it and that shoveling wasn’t a big deal this year. Ugh, when will I learn? Let me say, for the record, that a day after I shoveled snow, snow throwers seemed like the best thing since sliced bread. OK, now it’s in print and I can’t change my mind this year.


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Check Us Out on Facebook and Twitter!

Do you love the Smarter blogs? Do you enjoy a good deal? Then check out on Facebook and Twitter to get your greatest deals, information and updates online and on the go.

Just login, visit, hit “Like” and enjoy all the deals and steals that you could ever want. Plus, add comments and ask questions about all the latest and greatest Smarter updates. For a quick and easy feed, follow us on Twitter, @smarter.

And you can always visit us online at to browse popular searches, find out what’s hot and find the best prices on your favorite products.

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A Black Friday Routine

Tomorrow thousands, if not millions, of people will be trampling over each other to get the best deal on things they never really wanted in the first place. While there have been many articles written about the shopping experience, people seems to have forgotten that pre-shopping preparations that you can do to make your departure that much easier.

The Perfect Breakfast: High in protein and fat to keep that energy going. Start off with bacon, eggs and sausage and eat your fill. You may not get the opportunity to stop for lunch, so you will need to eat as much as you can to keep your energy up. Don’t forget the carbs like toast, pancakes and muffins to get your energy levels high right away.

Dress: You need to maximize your time in the morning so get your clothes out the night before as well as taking a shower. You won’t be 100-percent clean, but odds are you are going to be sweating and an odor might actually help you in your shopping. A stinky armpit may be the only thing that will get you that $3 coffeemaker.

Tactical Conversation: Discuss your plan of action over breakfast, planning where you are going to go and when. You should have spent Thanksgiving evening in a partial turkey coma, but during your periods of consciousness, you should have been going over the sales fliers from Wednesday’s paper. I am sure there are hundreds of deals that you can prioritize by store.

On a completely different topic, today is Thanksgiving, and hopefully, you are indulging on copious amounts of turkey and stuffing and thinking of all the things you are thankful for. I am thankful for my children and my wife who are my world. I am thankful for being able to stay at home to work and enjoy my children growing up.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

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