Wal-Mart Saves the World?

The green Wal-Mart in McKinney, TX is actually green!

The green Wal-Mart in McKinney, TX is actually green!

Wal-mart has gotten its share of bad press over the last few years, but (perhaps because of this bad press) CEO Lee Scott pledged in 2005 that Wal-Mart would become the industry leader in environmental sustainability, including a commitment to using 100% sustainable energy and to create no waste.

Friedman even describes his visit to the new super-green Wal-Mart in McKinney, Texas and his drive choked with traffic and urban sprawl to get there in Hot, Flat & Crowded.

Now it looks like Wal-Mart is trying something, which is either outrageous or outrageously good for all of us.  They are attempting to label the sustainability of every single product they sell.  We’re talking over 60,000 suppliers and hundreds of thousands of products here!

Call me a pessimist, but I don’t think it can be done.  We know a little bit about collecting and cataloging vast amounts of information here at the library and I know that part can happen.  What I don’t believe is that the suppliers will be truthful about where their products come from or maybe even know the truth to be able to report it.

You can read the article here: Wal-Mart To Become Green Umpire and then leave a comment with your thoughts on whether this is a revolution in sustainability or just an expensive PR campaign.


One Response

  1. That is quite the ambitious project. And if you ask me, an unrealistic and potentially dangerous one. Now don’t get me wrong – I am a huge proponent of “going green” and remaining conscientious of sustainable practices. It is great to get people thinking about which products they use and the impact they have on the environment. But I believe this effort by Wal-Mart to index sustainability is putting the emphasis on the wrong thing. Encouraging sustainability is not just about creating a complicated formula for what is “sustainable” that the average person most likely will not understand. It is also not about putting more power in the hands of already powerful corporations to determine what types of products are “good” for Americans to use. It IS about educating people how to take responsibility for their environmental footprints. Yes, part of that is helping them realize the pros and cons of what they buy. But part of that is also creating a learned consciousness of what it means to value the environment we live in. Why spend so much money and concentrate so much energy into re-labeling millions of different products when many people could care less about recycling the cardboard pizza box from last night’s dinner or turning the water off while they brush their teeth? Maybe I care too much about the little things, but it seems our efforts to encourage sustainability would be much more beneficial focused on something other than inventing a go-getting sustainability index.

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