Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

Wal-Mart Goes Green: BS or Totally True?

Published on July 4, 2010 by   ·   69 Comments Pin It
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So now sugar is a health food and Wal-Mart’s gone green. And we have a gorgeous bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. Or do we? Jim Fitpatrick, a retired civil engineer and solar enthusiast, wrote this article for us because Wal-mart is not only claiming to have gone “green” for its 8400 stores, but also for its 100,000 suppliers. And the weird thing about it is this: Nobody even knows what their new green program really is. Not yet. That won’t happen until next year, at the earliest. Even so, suppliers are climbing over each other to go green and get more Wal-Mart business. Jim explains more;

Watching baseball’s first quadruple play was strange. Seeing Wal-Mart go green is stranger still. First the baseball: The scene was a game of T-Ball, where everyone bats every inning, regardless of the number of outs. The bases were loaded when a line drive ended up in the glove of the pitcher. While he wondered how it got there, all the runners took off without tagging up. The pitcher ran to third, then second, then first. We kept counting the number of outs and they did not add up. First in our heads: That doesn’t make sense. Then on our hand: That’s crazy. Then our other hand: It kept adding up to four outs.

It took us a while to believe what we saw right in front of us.

And now Wal-Mart, the original Black Hat, is going green. Or better said, sustainable.Let that sink in because it is true. Big time. So much so that Treehugger.com says It “could end up being one of the biggest motivators to make truly ‘green’ products ever.” As in history of the world.

Wal-Mart has made believers out of not just the biggest environmental organizations in the world — like the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Federation — but also Wal-Mart’s suppliers. It started five years ago when Wal-Mart announced three goals: 1) 100 percent renewable energy; 2) Zero waste; 3) Sustainable products. Wal-Mart stores have already gone sustainable on dozens of fronts from shipping
to selling to storing to recycling. Last year, Wal-Mart saved 4.8 billion plastic shopping bags.

You can buy eco-soy mattresses at Wal-Mart.  People are soylent green!

You can buy eco-soy mattresses at Wal-Mart now. People are soylent green!

That’s how they roll in Bentonville: Big.

Even the combined efforts of 8400 stores with two million associates doing $400 billion in sales every year was not enough: Wal-Mart figured out 90 percent of the carbon was coming from its supply chain. So it reached down to all its 100,000 vendors — and their vendors and their vendors — and told them that reducing carbon footprints — reducing energy — will save money. Everyone knows that is what Wal-Mart is all about.

“And vendors are listening,” said Tom Rooney, CEO of SPG Solar in Novato, California, one of the largest solar installers in the country. “We are seeing renewed and intense interest in industrial- and commerical-scale solar because of Wal-Mart and Proctor and Gamble and other companies are showing their suppliers how to change their shipping, packaging, storing, selling, heating, cooling, disposing, recycling and other practices to squeeze energy out of the supply chain and save money. And solar is a big part of that.”

Not that many need much coaxing: Financial incentives for solar today are so strong that many companies are essentially getting free energy — and more — by buying a new solar array from the money they will save from lower energy bills. And having a big chunk left over. If you would like to join this trend then you should check out something like 5KW Solar System from Solar Man Australia, these systems are great for their ability to harvest plenty of electricity all while housed conveniently on the roof of a property. Once it’s installed you don’t even have to do anything – so don’t just let these companies make the most of it. You should get it for your own home.

Now on top of that, the largest companies in the world are saying solar and other renewables have to be a part of their supply chain. By some estimates, 1 in 3 dollars worldwide is associated with a company that does business with Walmart. So, if you shift Walmart and its suppliers, the global economy shifts with it,
says R. Paul Herman at hipinvestor.com. Or as the New York Times puts it: “because of its size and power, Wal-Mart usually gets what it wants.” And Wal-Mart wants renewable energy.

Earlier this year, Wal-Mart sent its vendors a 15 part questionnaire to determine what their companies were doing to become more sustainable. I personally this is a great idea, as all businesses should get the opinions of others when it comes to improving how they carry out daily activities. Also leading the effort is Wal-Mart’s “Sustainability Index.”

Scholars from around the world are gathering at the Universities of Arizona and Arkansas to create this new measure of the energy created — and wasted — during the life cycle of a product found at Wal-Mart. It won’t be ready for at least anothear year.

“But that doesn’t matter,” says Rooney. “No one is fighting Wal-Mart or complaining about the reporting that this new index requires. Just the opposite: They are racing to out do each other, and surpass Wal-Mart’s expectations. Right now. Not next year. ”

And why not:

In May, the world’s largest consumer product company, Proctor and Gamble, announced its own, similar, sustainability program for its vendors. Joining IBM, GE, and other corporate giants on the sustainability train.

The results are already showing up on the bottom line:

“Perhaps more than any other company, Wal-Mart has pursued this approach” said the Harvard Business Review of Wal-Mart’s new vision of sustainability. “The payoffs are already showing up: One of the Sustainable Value Networks, tasked with fleet logistics, came up with a transportation strategy that improved efficiency by 38%, saving Wal-Mart more than $200 million annually and cutting its greenhouse
gas emissions by 200,000 tons per year.”

Wal-Mart: Not just for beating up anymore. Or maybe we are just seeing the world’s first quintuple play.

What do you think about Wal-Mart’s Green Initiative? Bullshit? Or should we be grateful that they are doing anything remotely eco-friendly in lieu of the crud they sell? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below;

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Readers Comments (69)

  1. Yeah, and now they just need to abide by some better ethics in terms of human labor. Whether their so-called green movement is bullshit or not, half the people making their products will still be treated like crap while getting crap pay and working in a crap environment.

  2. Keith says:

    Wow. This is great. And to get EDF to join in is unheard of. Reminds me of so many things in history where things turn by those who were least expected to. Great post Katherine.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    They truly do have a green initiative, and have rigorous requirements for factories and producers they have to be approved and they personal inspect-I know this first hand.

    I have not been a Wal- mart fan for many years…but I do see the positive in their influence, and they do get what they want….
    The whole transition will take time, as with the transition the entire universe is making

  4. […] ***The GirlieGirl Army*** » Blog Archive » Wal-Mart Goes Green: BS or Totally True? […]

  5. elaine says:

    I think it’s great that Walmart is making an effort. The company has suffered from huge PR problems for a long time (read Nickeled and Dimed if you want an easy read on the treatment of Walmart workers). I’m sure *part* of their interest in this is to clean up their image. But in some ways, that is totally OK. We all WANT people to do things that make a difference — right? It seems they’re trying to do the right thing and because they are SO big, they have an opportunity to make a true impact. If Target and KMart and similar chains follow, which I would bet they will, Walmart could end up being looked as a leader in the green movement. I say, way to go and keep it coming…

  6. d says:

    No place can truly call itself “green” if it sells animal products of any kind: be it meat, cheese, milk, leather, suede, etc. The environmental effects of these products is astronomical.

  7. Camilla says:

    They spend over a million dollars fighting a $7000 OSHA fine for failure to provide safety measures when an employee was trampled to death at a Black Friday sale. I applaud their efforts to improve the crap they carry, but I still won’t shop with them till they treat their employees better.

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