We had an awesome weekend of outreach and advocacy on the Save Our Cypress Campaign, February 28-March 2, at the New Orleans Home and Garden Show. The Gulf Restoration Network is still working hard to stop Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, and Home Depot from selling this precious natural resource. You might ask yourself, why is an environmental advocacy organization that works to protect the coast going to a home and garden show? I know I did, at first. And then I realized there’s no better way to reach the people who are the most crucial in shaping corporate behavior: the consumers.So many of the gardeners we spoke to use cypress mulch because they were not aware of its impact on one of our best natural storm defenses. They also didn’t realize that the majority of cypress mulch is no longer a byproduct of lumber production but now comes from large cypress clear-cuts of undersized cypress trees. We were able to demonstrate several of the sustainable alternatives to cypress mulch with our new educational resource, the Mulch Matters kit, featured above. The volunteers who came out to table got almost 450 postcards signed to ask Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, and Home Depot not to sell cypress mulch, and educated even more people on why they shouldn’t garden with it. They did an amazing job of getting the word out. Here are a few of their reactions to their experience at the Home and Garden Show:I really enjoyed tabling at the Home and Garden Show. I believe that those are the people that we need to target. I would reach out by asking if anyone used mulch in their garden and many of them would enthusiastically respond “Yes! Cypress mulch” and then I would explain why that is a bad choice and demonstrate the alternatives. Dan’s idea of having the pine and eucalyptus bark displayed worked great! Many of them vowed to reconsider the next time that they decided to buy mulch and to alert their local stores to the problem. Thanks for the chance to make a difference.-Alyssa DennyThis was my first experience volunteering with the GRN and it was very positive. Although I am somewhat shy, I was able to get over it and attract people to the table, just by smiling and asking them if they knew about cypress mulch. Once I got their attention, most people were interested to learn about our project and supported it. Nearly everyone can accept that the cypress forests are critical to wetland habitat and protection of the gulf coast from flooding and loss of land.I think it’s just as important to educate people not to use cypress mulch as it is to get stores not to sell it. Many folks had no idea that the mulch comes from whole trees and forests. Most believe the myth that the cypress will not attract termites – that is why they want to use it. Hopefully we can continue this education at future events.Sincerely,Zé daLuzIf you’re interested in teaching people about the sustainable alternatives to cypress mulch, whether you’re a gardener or a concerned citizen, contact Amy Medtlie at to find out how you can get your hands on a Mulch Matters kit.Amy Medtlie is an Outreach Associate for the Gulf Restoration Network.

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