GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Meijer Stores here and The Nature Conservancy recently announced a new partnership to encourage shoppers to select non-invasive plants, trees and shrubs for their backyards. This year's program launched with a special Earth Day open house on April 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at all 181 Meijer stores throughout the Midwest.
“Providing healthy choices for our customers through our nutrition and lifestyle offerings is a key part of our business philosophy,” said Hank Meijer, co-chairman and chief executive officer, in a release.
“We believe that by providing our customers with earth-friendly information in a fun and informative way, we are empowering them to make healthy choices for our earth as well.”
Last year, Meijer removed Norway maple and Lombardy poplar from its inventory as part of these efforts, and this year it will remove another known invasive plant called privet.
The event on April 26 helped consumers learn about environmentally friendly products such as the non-invasive plants recommended by The Nature Conservancy. Meijer representatives provided background information and informal discussions on non-invasive plants, as well as free seeds and literature on how consumers can make their yards more earth-friendly.
Other free informational items offered at the open house included a special Earth Day booklet, stickers and magnets, and participants could enter to win prizes such as a $4,500 backyard upgrade or a new hybrid vehicle.
Conservancy scientists developed criteria for recommending plants, trees and shrubs that will carry the Conservancy's logo on tags in Meijer Garden Centers. Up to 16 percent of Meijer's plants, trees and shrubs have a special icon created by The Nature Conservancy indicating “Recommended Non-Invasive.”
Species that will receive the special icon on tags redesigned this year include: purple coneflower, which is a flower; big blue stem, a type of grass; and white pine and flowering dogwood, which are trees.
“Invasive species can wreak havoc on local ecosystems by disrupting the delicate balance found in nature,” said Helen Taylor, Michigan state director for The Nature Conservancy, in the release.
“This ongoing partnership between Meijer and The Nature Conservancy will hopefully help to reduce some of the damage done by invasive species by giving consumers the information they need to help their local environment.”
Invasive plants have negative effects on the economy, environment or human health and can quickly take over resources that native plants need, such as light, water, nutrients and space.
According to The Nature Conservancy scientists, almost all invasive plants are non-native, but not all non-native plants become invasive. Hundreds of non-native plants have become established in the Midwest, yet relatively few have become invasive. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, invasive species cost Americans about $137 billion every year.
The Nature Conservancy's mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.