“Greenwash” from TruGreen ChemLawn

by Caroline Brown

I hated TruGreen ChemLawn even before I realized how bad their products are for the earth. 8 or 10 years ago they employed some pretty ugly telemarketing tactics with me. And now this bit from a neat little website called The Green Life makes me hate them even more!

The Green Life publishes an annual report on the country’s worst “greenwashers,” those companies who skillfully employ PR, marketing, and advertising tactics to try and fool consumers into thinking that they’re pro-environment. All the usual suspects are there–the oil companies, the car manufacturers, etc. Granted I wasn’t surprised to see a company with the word “Chem” in their name on the list. (Talk about dumb PR!)

The big story is Project Evergreen, a project that TruGreen ChemLawn co-founded with other companies in the “green industry.” Its purpose is supposedly to

….use the resources and influence of a national green industry alliance to create a national marketing campaign to consumers throughout the U.S. The effort will promote healthy landscapes and green spaces using public relations, public affairs and other tactics to tell the positive story of the environmental, economic and lifestyle values of well-maintained green spaces, including lawns and landscapes, sports turf, golf courses, trees, etc.

But behind the scenes, says The Green Life, is a “residential lawn care program” that offers 32 pesticides, of which

…17 contain ingredients that are defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research and Cancer as possible carcinogens; 13 contain ingredients that are banned or restricted in other countries; 11 contain known or suspected reproductive toxins; 9 contain known or suspected endocrine disruptors; and all 32 threaten non-targeted species and ecosystems.

TruGreen ChemLawn and others of their ilk are responsible for creating a demand for a perfect, green, weedless suburban lawn no matter what the chemical cost. Download the report and read it if you time–along with interesting tales of scummy PR tactics, you’ll also read about mass earthworm murders and poisoned dogs.

Hey….I just figured out where the Iraqis hid the WMD!!! I think I’ll call the White House.


25 Comments to ““Greenwash” from TruGreen ChemLawn”

  1. Bad indeed, but unfortunately not surprising. I was thinking as I was reading that someone at ChemLawn could get promoted to the Administration, or perhaps is already there. It’s unfortunate that business tactics like this work so easily on people. Really, just package it a colorful box and say it’s ok and it’s ok.

  2. Chemlawn poisoned my dog and he died from pesticide exposure. Share our story with your friends.

    Chemlawn is the worst company on earth!!!

  3. I used to work for chemlawn and years ago it WAS a responsible company. When trugreen purchased them the company”s values died!! Now they just lie and mislead the public.

  4. Is any one else having to deal with these idiots when it comes to scheduling and payment

    I requested my account cancelled months ago, when they could not get my account correct.

    It is still open and I am still getting calls.

  5. Good luck Norm–I’ve never used them but my only experience with them is that they hound you to death with telemarketing calls, so maybe their accounting is just as screwed up!

  6. i work for trugreen in idaho, i hate them! but i have mouths to feed. we have to “earn” the weekends off! what is this…russia?

  7. I work for TruGreen and have 2 little dogs and my little brother lives with me. I have not seen anything that would alert me or scare me. This company is just like every ther big company, sometimes IDIOTS make it up igher in the food chain then they should. Robin, i am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sorry your dog died. But there are people like me and Stan who do our job right and need to make a living. With that in mind, if we do keep calling you just ask to please be put on the ” do not call” list. Ak for the callers employee number and request a copy of the “do not call policy” If you have our lawn care and want no other treatments, make sure to specifiy that when you sign up. “do not call to up sell” most of us here do it right, it takes 1 bad apple top ruin the bunch. Sadly that bad apple might be a branch manager. Then I am trully sorry! Oh and sorry, i suck at spelling. I am a talker. Have a great day.

    • We understand you need your job, but you can’t expect us to stand by idly while more of our pets become sick and/or die due to this product, whether or not its “misapplied.”

    • Will, Since you are employed at the TOXIC VILLAGE POISON CENTRAL. Tell me this. How is it if you are all doing it SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Right. That the Guy From your Work Place is out in my neighbors yard with a garden hose shooting POISON near 6 feet off the ground. Because the hose is hung over his shoulder and the Wind Blowing 35 miles an hour Doesn’t Prevent his POISON from DRIFTING. About 100 Feet Covering the back of my whole house. Like I said my building is 100 feet off the PROPERTY LINE OF THE PROPERTY HE IS SUPPOSED TO BE SPRAYING. How is this safe. I suffer from EXTREME MEDICALLY PROVEN CHEMICAL SENSITIVITIES and the POISON PRODUCT IS CAUSING MY GRAVE HEALTH PROBLEMS. Then one of the other neighbors was being mislead to believe your co workers were using ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE PRODUCTS and actually told a Mowing service guy. That what the Customer doesn’t know won’t hurt us. If your PRODUCTS ARE SO SAFE AND GREEN. Why are you having to PLACARD WITH A POISON WARNING PLACARD? For the people with Dogs, They have to go out to go potty even on the day you spray. They lick the POISON off their POISONED PAWS and ingesting Fresh PESTICIDES, HERBICIDES OR WHATEVER TOXIC PRODUCTS are being SPRAYED. Do you have a clue of the Health Hazards the PRODUCTS your Companies Products are Causing. Take a trip to the Children’s Cancer Hospital and see some of what those products are really doing. Especially to Still Developing Children. Then WHY DO THE TRUCKS YOU DRIVE, NOT HAVE HAZARDOUS MATERIAL PLACARDS ON THE VEHICLES, When you are carrying POISON on the the highways and byways. Posing potential ROAD HAZARDS. If you happen to Crash. The rescue Crew are not even being made award of what chemicals they will be encounter. I Hope you find something safer to do for a Career. Of even start a campaign at your Work Place to SWITCH TO SAFER NON TOXIC METHODS. JUST SOMETHING to think about if (you) have a family. The POISON You spray is being absorbed into your system, the TOXINS AND YOU, PASS IT ON TO YOUR SPOUSE AND ANY DEVELOPING FETUSES by contact with your clothes and physical relations also. Independent Studies Prove time and time again that the POISONS are way more toxic than we are lead to believe by your employer and the POISON MANUFACTURERS. READ THIS For Proof. http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Docs/ref_toxicity1.html

  8. I work for trugreen.. The insect control is harmless unless it gets in your eyes. Theres only enough insect control in our mixes to kill chinch bugs, which are the size of the end of a pen..
    It wont even kill a wasp if its in the grass and its sprayed.

    Maybe in odd cases where your dog has wierd allergies it could hurt him, but overall its fine. If it were really that harmful there would be dead dogs showing up everywhere.

    but yeah back on topic the company really sucks, I hate working for them and I’d never have them for my yard.

  9. For one, we are specifically trained to say if ever questioned about our products that they pose a negligiable risk to both pets and humans a like, we are not allowed to say our products are safe or not and we can get fired by doing so. I have been with Trugreen for 5 years now and have said this line to thousands of people, the worst I’ve ever heard or seen was a customer of mines’ dog had an allergic reaction and some swelling occured, the vet did due a test for chemical poisoning and we provided all the MSDS forms (Material Safety Data Sheets) directly to the customer and vet, later to find out, she let the dog out immediately after the application thinking it would be fine seeing is she had us for years and never noticed anything before, we post flags in a lawn for a reason people. On all pesticide labels there is whats called a re-entry time, thats the time allowed for products to settle or dry, and a re-application time. Generally it’s 2-3 hours or until liquid has dried and or granular dusts have settled, if you allow pets or humans on turf areas before this is achieved thats your problem not the products or the technician. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the company, I hate thier tactics and lies, I hate the pay program, and most importantly I hate the customer deception. I’m on a first name basis with 80% of my customers and they trust me, and it sickens me when I have to fly through stuff to hit a certain number to get a day off to rest instead of just doing my job, its all about numbers with this company, and 10 people could cancel today and its ok because tomorow we will gain 20. Heres some food for thought, 98% of all the branch managers at TruGreen were promoted from the sales department and have not spent but one day in the field, and probably couldn’t tell you what wild violet, ground ivy, or even red thread disease, let alone the difference between Coarse Fescue and Crabgrass. They are the ones making us work in the rain, wich yes people doesn’t work regardless of the excuse your given, and making us treat in high heat when all the grass is lying dormant anyway. In the end everyone has an opinion about everything, whether it’s Scotts, Spring Green, Trugreen, or any other company, corporate or independent, there will be someone to say it’s wrong or you killed my dog or made my kids sick, and want to boycott you. To me it’s just a job, it puts clothes on my back and food on my table, and I do it the best I can. Allegations shouldn’t be made without cold hard facts and or proof, but you are intitled to your opinion. This year in 2009 we switched to a Ammonium Solfate fertilizer (granular only liquid is still urea nitrogen) this has been proven to cause liver disease kidney failure and in some cases cancer in most animals and humans. I don’t like this seeing is I’m around the products 11 hours a day 6 days a week, But our products are a 2% dillution rate, 98% is either water or a filler based from natural by products. The chances of being harmed are slim to non, but can still pose a risk to those who arent careful.

  10. I worked for TruGreen/Chemlawn briefly here in NH in their “sales” department (aka telemarketing boiler room) and quit shortly after I began. The sales methods are pathetic as they are high pressure cold calling the likes of which would make the timeshare people blush. Aside from this, nearly every person I’ve talked to who has either used their service or sought to learn more prior to doing so, has told me horror stories of inept service techs either showing up uninvited and spraying or simply showing up uninvited and placing the lawn placards along the rim of the property without even spraying a thing.

    Its a truly pathetic and socially irresponsible company who will and does poison pets, destroy ecology and disregard customer desires all in the name of increasing their market share. DO NOT USE TRUGREEN or ANY OF THEIR CONTEMPORARIES! Only go with truly green and ecologically safe lawn care. Remember, nature created your lawn and naturally is the best way to care for it.

  11. I bought a house a number of years ago with beautiful, established healthy trees and shrubs, and a large lawn. My dad installed a sprinkler system for me but my grass was still kinda sparse in places and I could feel the ground underneath was hard. I hired trugreen to aerate and fertilize, and those first few treatments my lawn looked fantastic. The next season I decided to continue with the lawn care plan, but after a couple treatments my trees started getting really sick. A few had fungus problems. Lo and behold, trugreen offered a treatment solution but of course it would cost extra. They wanted to start spraying my trees and shrubs too. I became immediately suspicious. My trees had been so healthy for decades, but of my 5 trees, 4 of them were all suddenly sick at the same time. My black walnut, plum, maple, and honey locust all had some sort of fungus. I wondered if trugreen was making my trees sick. My paranoia kicked in and I immediately canceled my trugreen program, but they continued to come treat my property while I was at work, claiming for a while they hadn’t been notified of a cancellation. I’d get the runaround when I called. On top of that, my lawn looked absolutely horrible those first few weeks off the trugreen treatments but eventually bounced back toward the end of the season. All of my trees survived their illness without any treatments and looked fine the next year. My plum tree died later after being broken in an ice storm. I will never use another lawn care program because of my experience with trugreen. Anyone else experience sudden illness of trees or shrubs while using trugreen?

  12. I have two little dogs and almost lost one last year after a Trugreen treatment. I called and cancelled the service and like other bloggers, they continued to come. They had not come yet this season, so I thought that I had finally got my point across. When I got up this morning, there was a Trugreen lawn spike in my front yard. They had already treated my lawn. So for the next week, I have to take my dogs to the park to potty two or three times a day. This is not acceptable. Our dogs are a huge part of our family and my son plays on that grass all the time too. This is unacceptable, putting TOXINS on our lawns!

  13. Neighbors are having Trugreen service for first time. The first treatment I started having violent coughing spells. I called the company only to be given the run around, never connected to anyone, disconnected, hung up on over and over. The second treatment my two dogs were coughing. My kittens eyes started weeping and they were gagging daily.

    I called the neighbors and they were clueless about what was being put on their lawn. “This is a green company” it is perfectly safe is what the wife told me. I felt so bad for their two dogs who were right in front of the man applying the chemicals everytime they came and applied their poisons.

    Treatment three brought severe headaches, nausea and suddenly both my dogs, me and my husband broke out in
    a horrible rash. i HAVE NEVER HAD A RASH IN MY LIFE UNTIL NOW. I called the company and demanded to know
    what they had applied that day. One person told me one
    thing and then I was e-mailed by a “head person”, who told me something completely different. It is very clear to me they don’t know what they are doing. This is my and my
    families & pets health they are threatening here!

    We also live where all of us have well water. They were applying these chemical poisons within 5 – 6 feet of a
    spring fed pond that goes into our water table. I have
    started to notice the trees and shrubs on our property
    are also dieing and the last time they came it was a very
    windy day when they applied.

    I will not stand to have this around my family and pets any
    longer and will take them to court if I have to. In doing research on the company I saw that this year (2010), Trugreen was sued by a customer and won. So I say,
    stand up and tell them to get the poison away from you
    and your family and pets NOW.

    • I am still being POISONED by a neighbors TRUGREEN Spray guy every 6 weeks. Even On days with wind at 35 miles an hour, which the POISON hit my dwelling 100 feet off the lot line. OMG. PEOPLE IF THEY HAVE TO PUT A POISON WARNING PLACARD IN THE GRASS. THAT IS JUST WHAT IT IS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesticide Here are some highlights of this site, Pesticide use raises a number of environmental concerns. Over 98% of sprayed insecticides and 95% of herbicides reach a destination other than their target species, including non-target species, air, water and soil.[23] Pesticide drift occurs when pesticides suspended in the air as particles are carried by wind to other areas, potentially contaminating them. Pesticides are one of the causes of water pollution, and some pesticides are persistent organic pollutants and contribute to soil contamination. Pesticides that evaporate into the atmosphere at relatively high temperature can be carried considerable distances (thousands of kilometers) by the wind to an area of lower temperature, where they condense and are carried back to the ground in rain or snow. Pesticide exposure can cause a variety of adverse health effects, ranging from simple irritation of the skin and eyes to more severe effects such as affecting the nervous system, mimicking hormones causing reproductive problems, and also causing cancer. Pesticides can be classified based upon their biological mechanism function or application method. Most pesticides work by poisoning pests.

      • S., I feel really bad for you. Luckily none of my neighbors is so obsessive compulsive that they feel like they have to a have a perfect lawn so much that they use these poisons. Frankly I can’t understand people like this, I think there’s something wrong with them and you probably won’t be able to reason with them by giving them the facts. All I can say is, when the sprayers come, get in the house, get your animals and kids in the house and close the windows. Or leave and go somewhere until it dissipates, if you’re able to. 😦

  14. I think people that have this crap put on their lawns are very self-centered and for some unknown reason feel a need to impress neighbors and others passing by. It seems the people that feel a “need” to put this poison on their lawns are the people I never see out enjoying their lawns. Nature takes care of itself, it’s usually people that get in the way. And the last I knew stray animals can’t read, so those little signs are useless to them. And they are usually stray thanks to ignorant people. So I say ban the crap, we don’t need it in our lives. With so much cancer these days, maybe some day the light bulb will go on.

  15. Yesterday, the TruGreen truck came for their regular application two houses down from us. I watched the worker blatantly overspray onto our neighbor’s yard. As we are regularly responsible for caring for their 6 and 1/2 Shih Tzu dog, I approached him and told him to stay on the other side of the property line. The TruGreen rep was a belligerent and misinformed jerk.

    Well I took care of our neighbor’s dog today and sure enough, she was convulsing and vomiting when I picked her up this morning. She vomited four times throughout the day and was clearly very sick all day long. Unfortunately, this is not a one time case… rather it appears to be the norm. “TruGreen” is jacked full of dangerous pesticides that are harmful to pets, people and our planet.

    If you want more evidence, take a look at these links:
    510 Complaint on Consumer Affairs: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/trugreen.html
    Causing Cancer: http://reportyourcomplaint.com/scotts-trugreen-chemlawn-and-cancer-the-real-truth-is-their-harsh-lawn-chemicals-are-causing-lethal-cancers-in-cats-dogs-and-humans/
    Toxic Tales: http://www.refusetousechemlawn.org/hear_stories
    32 dangerous pesticides: https://earthfriendlygardening.wordpress.com/2006/02/09/greenwash-from-trugreen-chemlawn/

    Tell your neighbors to stop using TruGreen. It is DANGEROUS!

  16. Thank you all for talking about the dangers of this company. It is truly disgusting that our pets and children as well as our selves are at risk with a company that doesn’t give a rip. I am hoping that we can find an organic company that will run them out of business. What can we do…sign a petition, etc?

  17. My dog has been having really bad skin allergies for months now. Her vet and I are at our wits end, trying EVERYTHING! Just dawned on me today, maybe it’s the TruGreen chemicals! we live in an HOA subdivision, so are expected to follow the rules and keep our yard looking good. My husband was approached by a TruGreen salesperson and hired them. Gonna cancel this crap MONDAY! Thanks for all the input, this is very upsetting. Our dog is an indoors pet, but she loves to roll around in the grass when she goes out to potty! I even had our Orkin guy come out and spray for fleas. SMH!

  18. Is their trugreen organic program bad for pets also?

    • Silvana, I looked at their website and didn’t see a list of the specific ingredients used in their supposed organic solution. They mention the use of spot application of conventional weed and pest killers but not sure if that is included in all applications or not, or if they only use organic fertilizer and that is the extent of the program. Personally I feel maybe it goes beyond just whether or not you can trust their process because there are a lot of complaints about sales tactics & customer service on the web. It seems to me like it would be better to find a local company who had a more transparent approach instead of a big national company. Just my .02!! Good luck!

  19. Unfortunately, because I was exposed to a Douglas Product for termite eradication, many other chemicals can take me out of the picture. Last night after Tru Green was here during the day, I had my front door open w/the screen door and the Tru Green found me in the living room. I had a rough night with a headache, got asthma attack and woke up having to take rx to slow down the reaction. If you are over exposed to toxins, Tru Green will find you and neurotoxins cause chronic and acute exposures. Just remember that.

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