Gardeners and beekeepers swarm Ace and True Value stores

Gardeners and beekeepers swarm Ace and True Value stores

More than 400,000 people urge garden retailers to stop selling bee-killing pesticides

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 5,000 people in 10 cities across the U.S. will swarm Ace Hardware and True Value Hardware stores this week to urge retailers to make firm, time-bound commitments to take bee-killing pesticides off store shelves as part of a national week of action. Groups will deliver more than 400,000 petition signatures to Ace and True Value’s corporate headquarters in Chicago, Ill. urging the retailers to eliminate neonicotinoids and plants pre-treated with these pesticides. Larger deliveries are also planned at stores in Washington, D.C.; Stillwater, Minn.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Dallas, Texas; Arlington, Texas; Portland, Maine; Durham, North Carolina; Ashland, Ore; and Portland, Ore.

Neonicotinoids, the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, are a leading contributor to bee declines across the globe. A study released in June 2014 revealed that “bee-friendly” garden plants sold at top garden retailers contain these bee-killing pesticides, with no warning to consumers.

To date, Ace Hardware has said it is “willing to move away from the sale of products containing neonicotinoids by spring of 2019” and True Value has said it is looking to phase out the pesticides in the next three years, but neither retailer has made a firm, time-bound commitment to eliminate these pesticides.

“The science is clear: neonicotinoid pesticides are a key driver of bee declines and are harming birds, butterflies and other organisms essential for healthy ecosystems and food production,” said Friends of the Earth Food Futures Campaigner Tiffany Finck-Haynes. “Retailers can either be part of the problem or part of the solution to the bee crisis. It’s time for Ace and True Value to join their competitors and make meaningful commitments to get bee-killing pesticides off their shelves.”

Forward looking local retailers, such as Eldredge Lumber and Hardware in York, Maine, an Ace Hardware affiliate, are taking neonicotinoids and other toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers off their shelves, and replacing them with safer and effective organic alternatives. Beyond Pesticides is highlighting Eldredge Lumber and Hardware’s work through a new video, Making the Switch, and a new webpage, The Well Stocked Hardware Store, which is intended to help local retailers encourage their customers to adopt natural and organic alternatives.

“As more and more communities enact laws restricting pesticides, and local residents seek out these alternatives, it is critical that local hardware and garden stores respond to the demand in the market by supplementing and replacing their stock of toxic pesticides with products that promote a natural systems approach to lawn care,” said Drew Toher, public education associate of Beyond Pesticides.

“It’s time for Ace and True Value to take a stand against toxic, bee-killing neonicotinoids. Managers of local True Value and Ace Hardware stores can play a role in creating safer communities by refusing to sell toxic chemicals, and by pressuring their corporate offices to find safe and responsible alternatives to products that are known to kill bees, and are likely harmful to people, pets and the environment as a whole,” said Katharine Paul, assistant director at the Organic Consumers Association.

“Residential landscapes are a crucial food supply for bees, but they are being poisoned by a tide of neonic-containing consumer garden products which are turning home gardens into killing fields for bees, butterflies, birds and other beneficial insects,” said Bonnnie Raindrop, Legislative Chair, Central Maryland Beekeepers. “This new assault, combined with the loss of millions of acres of forage from treated agricultural fields, is driving the tipping point where beekeepers are becoming extinct, along with the pollinators. We must stop the non-essential, cosmetic use of neonics now—not 2 or 3 years from now”

In the face of mounting evidence and growing consumer demand, more than 30 nurseries, landscaping companies and retailers across the U.S., including Home Depot, Lowe’s BJ’s Wholesale Club (NYSE:  BJ),  Whole Foods and some Ace Hardware affiliate across the country have taken steps to eliminate bee-harming pesticides from their stores. The UK’s top garden retailers, including Homebase, B & Q, and Wickes, voluntarily stopped selling neonicotinoids. A survey by Greenhouse Grower magazine found that more than two-thirds of plant nurseries have either stopped using or have started moving away from using neonics.

Bees and other pollinators, essential for the two-thirds of the food crops humans eat everyday, are dwindling worldwide. This past year beekeepers lost 42 percent of their hives — the second highest loss recorded to date. The European Union has banned several neonicotinoids; Ontario, Canada has restricted neonicotinoid coated seeds; and cities, states, and universities across the U.S. have passed measures to address the use of these pesticides and protect bees.

In September, the 9th Circuit Court suspended the EPA’s approval of sufloxaflor, a neonicotinoid. Last April, the EPA placed a moratorium on new and expanded uses of neonicotinoids.

This week’s deliveries, events and petition signatures are being organized by Friends of the Earth, Organic Consumers Association, Beyond Pesticides, Beyond Toxics, Credo Action, Center for Food Safety, Endangered Species Coalition, Green America, League of Conservation Voters, Organic Consumers Association, Save Our Environment, Sierra Rise and Sum of Us.

Note to editors: Visit for the following resources:

  • Gardeners Beware 2014: Bee-Toxic Pesticides Found in “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold at Garden Centers in the U.S. and Canada
  • Bee-friendly tips for shoppers and gardeners
  • Letters from Friends of the Earth and allies asking retailers to stop selling neonicotinoids and plants pre-treated with these pesticides.

Visit Bee Protective for the following:

  • Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind
  • Pollinator Friendly Seed Directory
  • What the Science Shows


Expert contacts:
Tiffany Finck-Haynes, Food futures campaigner, (202) 222-0715, [email protected]
Drew Toher, public education associate, Beyond Pesticides, (202) 543-5450, [email protected]

Communications contacts:
Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744, [email protected]

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