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Working with Retailers for Pesticide Reduction in Puget Sound

Pesticide Reduction Masthead

South Sound training: Tuesday, May 5, Lacey, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
North Sound training: Wednesday, May 6, Edmonds, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Ingredients in many residential pesticides pose a significant threat to both the environment and human health. Helping people make smart choices at the retail level can help keep these toxins out of our bodies and waterways. But where do you start?

Join us as we roll out a new toolkit designed to help retailers promote alternatives to toxic pesticides, and discuss proven strategies to increase retailer participation.

We’ve assembled a panel of experts from the public, private, and non-profit sectors who have built effective partnerships with retailers to affect behavior change in their own communities. They’ll be sharing their experiences with us in a moderated panel discussion. We’ll also hear tips directly from a corporate buyer at McLendon Hardware – a project partner.


In addition to learning about how to use the new toolkit, we’ll learn about the following topics:

  • Understanding the retail environment
  • How to get your foot in the door
  • Motivating retailers – what’s in it for them?
  • Overcoming suspicion
  • Cultivating partnerships


Jane Mountjoy-Venning, Thurston County Department of Environmental Health
Jane Mountjoy-Venning, Education and Outreach Specialist, has 20 years of experience with environmental health education in Thurston County, including years encouraging pesticide reduction in the community. She is both a licensed pesticide applicator and an Oregon Tilth Accredited Organic Land Care Practitioner. Jane is happy to scoop up unwanted arthropods and escort them outside. 

Jennifer Johnson, Thurston County Department of Heath
Jennifer Johnson has worked with retailers through the Common Sense Gardening program at Thurston County Environmental Health since 1999. Her family has created an organic farm just outside of Olympia and she knows firsthand the hard work involved in less toxic gardening!
Gwen Vernon, Cascadia Consulting Group
Gwen Vernon, Senior Associate at Cascadia Consulting Group, has nearly 20 years of experience designing and implementing behavior change and outreach/education programs for residents, communities, and businesses. Particular emphasis is on natural yard care, solid and hazardous waste reduction, and pollution prevention. Gwen speaks fluent Spanish, is on the board of Washington Toxics Coalition, and is a certified Master Gardener.

Denise Walz, PRR
As Co-President of PRR and the Principal-in-Charge of the Marketing and Public Relations Group, Denise is the driving and creative force behind marketing and PR campaigns that have changed the way people think, buy and live. Denise has spent decades building strategic relationships with retailers of all sizes, and has trained and inspired others to do the same. She is her happiest when she is bringing those she knows together in a way that can create true, long lasting and result driven relationships.


Dave Ward, March 5, Puget Sound Partnership
Dave Ward is the Regional Stewardship Program Manager for the Puget Sound Partnership in Washington State. Dave directs the social strategy work of the Partnership and is responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating strategies to advance broad-scale, citizen-based efforts to restore Puget Sound to health.

Stef Frenzl, March 6, Snohomish County Surface Water Management
Stef Frenzl, Communication Specialist at Snohomish County Surface Water Management, works to develop and implement regional and local public engagement programs to improve water quality and the health of Puget Sound.  He has served as a Core Team member of Stormwater Outreach for Regional Municipalities (STORM) to help develop award-winning campaigns such as the Don’t Drip & Drive vehicle leak campaign and Snohomish County Septic Care Program.

Two Trainings to Choose From

South Sound
Tuesday, May 5, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Lacey Conference Center, Harvest Room
975 Carpenter Rd NE, Lacey, WA 98516
Visit venue website for information and directions.

Register Now

North Sound

Wednesday, May 6, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Edmonds City Hall, Brackett Room
121 5th Ave N (upstairs)
Edmonds, WA 98020
Visit venue website for information and directions.

Register Now

Trainings are sponsored by the Puget Sound Partnership and offered free of charge. Light snacks will be provided. For more information, contact Jenn Leach at Seattle Tilth at (206) 633-0451 ext.124 or

Project History

 Rack Card

Pilot Study
Building on a multi-year effort by Watershed LLC, Seattle Tilth conducted a pilot study in 2014 to investigate the efficacy of point-of-sale intervention methods (e.g. stickers and signage) that could be used to persuade residential pesticide users to select organic pesticide products at the point of sale. The pilot study was hosted by McLendon Hardware, a local retail chain with seven locations throughout the Puget Sound region.

Pesticides targeted for inclusion in the study were the insecticides carbaryl and malathion, and a pre-emergent herbicide trifluralin - chemicals that were known to pose a risk to salmonid species in Puget Sound. After extensive audience research that included both consumers and retailers, three interventions were tested – stickers, product endorsements, and rack cards; all product safety ratings were consistent with the Grow Smart Grow Safe database.

Impact on Purchasing Behavior
The impact of the interventions on consumer purchasing behavior was analyzed by comparing McLendon monthly pesticide sales during the 2014 testing period to sales in 2013. While no statistically significant results were found, stickers appear to have had the most consistent effect on persuading consumers to choose organic pesticide options. Based on follow up interviews with staff and customers, store demographics and the level of staff advocacy also appeared to be driving factors.

One of the most important effects of the interventions was that they helped spark a conversation about organic options, allowing McLendon sales staff provide better information about pesticide choices, and helped customers make more informed choices when the staff weren’t around.

McLendon product buyer Scott Cerjance described McLendon’s increased focus on organics during the pilot test as “all bonuses and pluses. It was all new business or new customers.” Scott describes his core customer base as ‘Baby Boomers’, and says that McLendon is always looking for ways to connect to younger generations, particularly Generation X and Millennials. Increasing the stores’ focus on organic products, which are in demand by younger generations, helped McLendon attract a new group of younger shoppers. Seventy percent of the new pesticide products Scott plans to add in 2015 are organic; this is up from about 30% five years ago.

Pesticide Reduction Retailer Toolkit
We used the results of the pilot study to develop a Pesticide Reduction Retailer Toolkit for use in retail stores throughout the Puget Sound region. To ensure the toolkit is applicable to the widest variety of retailers, a second phase of retailer research was conducted, as well as research with potential user groups. The toolkit was developed in coordination with other residential pesticide reduction efforts going on around the region including Grow Smart, Grow Safe, and the Thurston County Common Sense Gardening campaign.

The toolkit consists of a collection of educational materials and signage (i.e. posters, stickers) that can be customized, printed, and placed in stores with the goal of persuading shoppers to purchase safer yard care products. Toolkit files will be stored electronically on the internet for free use by agencies, municipalities, and non-profit organizations who are working with retailers to reduce pesticide use in their communities.

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