Green Walmart? Or Oxymoron
Its always the things that catch us off guard, seem out of place that make us stand up and take notice.
You know how some things just seem kind of out of whack? I mean, take for instance my Christmas cactus. For some reason it’s popping out blooms like nobody’s business now that February is here. I would have enjoyed seeing this opulent display closer to December 25th, but then again, it’s sort of a pleasant surprise to have something so spectacular bursting forth in a month when dull and dreary is the norm.
Isn’t it always the things that catch us off guard, seem out of place, that make us stand up and take notice....
This is pretty much how I felt when I read the Fast Company Magazine article by Kate Rockwood, entitled “Attention, Walmart Shopper: Clean-up in Aisle Nine.” The author talks about Walmart’s innovative plan to provide shoppers with a Sustainability Index on all its products. Basically, like the Nutritional Indexes that currently grace the backs of most food items now, these little boxes would give the consumer a heads up on how their individual purchases impact the environment: “…from the greenhouse-gas emissions of an Xbox to the water used to produce your Sunday bacon.”
But wait, we’re talking Walmart right? Isn’t this the store that many people think of as the poster child for American materialist gluttony?
And yet, this the same store that leads the nation in sales: from toys to jewelry, food to household items. And because of this, I think even my most fervent anti-Walmart friends would agree, not a bad place to start educating the populace about making earth-friendly choices.
Walmart’s grand scheme to inform consumers of their buying environmental impact is in the early stages, but supply companies seem to be getting on board. In Rockwood’s article she says that a 15-question survey, asking for up-to-the-minute sustainability efforts, was sent to Walmart suppliers last year and over 1000 responses were returned. Obviously these companies know where their paychecks come from. But from my own standpoint, perhaps more importantly these companies are looking ahead to a time when future consumer spending habits will not be based solely on price, but also on who they preceive as environmentally responsible as well. So the fact that manufacturers are willing to buy into this idea is not a huge surprise. Ultimately, they know they could sink or swim based upon the consumer’s views of their accountability to Mother Earth.
Rockwood also includes Walmart's general timeline for this monumental undertaking. According to Walmart higher ups, “Chemical-intense products (such as household cleansers), electronics, and food will be the first three trial categories this winter” that the store “will attempt to apply scoring and solicit feedback.” The actual Sustainable indexes for most products won’t be ready until 2013.
I suggest that you read Kate Rockwood’s article in the February 2010 edition of Fast Company and see for yourself what Walmart is doing to make this green transformation. It’s an eye-opener to say the least for most of us whose consciences squirm just a little every time we walk through the oversized glass doors.
But regardless of how you feel about Walmart, the sheer size of this company (over 8,000 stores and over 2,000,000 employees according to Answers.com) gives it clout. And if that power is used for good and not evil…., I say go for it.
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