The City of Sanibel is now part of a consortium of ten counties, cities, and organizations seeking to educate residents on the responsible use of fertilizer.
Sanibel City Council Member Mick Denham, who organized the consortium and raised funding for outreach efforts, updated council on the campaign's progress. He explained that it has received a positive response from the community.
"The intent is to educate people that they control what goes on their lawns and properties, and the misuse of that can have significant effects on our watery quality in the area," said Denham.
Slime Monster...Don't Feed the Monster. PHOTO PROVIDED.
It was a challenge to launch this type of campaign. As a tourism-based economy, it was difficult for the City of Sanibel to participate in a campaign that highlighted water pollution. Organizers of the campaign designed a creepy "slime monster" that appears when homeowners aren't using fertilizer responsibly.
"It is very difficult to get this message across properly," said Denham, who explained he wants the campaign to continue into the future. "But, as we move forward we will learn."
The campaign is purposely designed to be humorous in order to grab people's attention. Not only will it be featured in numerous publications and websites, but in quirky television advertisements.
"You have 30 seconds to make an impression and I think it's great," said Vice Mayor Doug Congress.
Council Member Jim Jennings said the advertisements need to focus on how fertilizer pollution can affect the local economy.
"If we really screw this up and have too much red drift or blue green algae, we are going to lose jobs and property values are going to go down," said Jennings.
Sanibel resident Patti Sousa said she thought the campaign was effective.
"I saw it on television last night and it's hysterical," she said. "It gets people talking and that's what you want."
Besides the City of Sanibel, the fertilizer consortium also includes Lee County, City of Bonita Springs, City of Fort Myers, Town of Fort Myers Beach, City of Cape Coral, Charlotte County, South Florida Water Management District, Sanibel & Captiva Chamber of Commerce, and Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.fertilizesmart.com. The website includes tips and frequently asked questions on fertilizing, local ordinances, videos, and links to articles.