Now hold on! Hear me out. Please. Living is a balancing act of decisions, decisions that make your life what you want it to be. Being green is also a balancing act of decisions, decisions that help you be greener, or not (“not” stories to come). walmartone wire
Walmart is the target for lots of energetic discussion about some of its business practices, most particularly around employee relations. I have heard that if Sam Walton were alive things wouldn’t be so bad in the employee-relations department. But he’s not, and Walmart needs to pay attention to that part of its business, IMHO.
Several years ago I decided to quit shopping at Walmart as an act of support for employees, and for local businesses that claim Walmart’s presence is hurting their business. The first purchase I made after making that boycott decision was for my thyroid meds. Ouch! My local pharmacy charged three times the price Walmart did. My Walmart boycott was short-lived.
My Walmart boycott turned into shopping with thoughtful action. I try to buy things at locally-owned stores/outlets first, but if I can’t find it, or find it at a price I’m willing to pay, I go to Walmart. We live in a small enough area that our choices are often limited. Walmart does expand our options — so we shop there.
Now, add to my realities Walmart’s corporate efforts at going green, at being a sustainable corporation. I applaud it for what it’s doing. Walmart has a reputation of throwing its weight around and forcing manufacturers to bend to its rules and pricing demands, if they want to business with Walmart. That can work to our advantage in our environmental growth.
Have you taken note of all that Walmart is doing to help the environment? Let me point out some of its green initiatives. From its website, its broad goals are to:
- be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy
- create zero waste
- sell products that sustain people and the environment
Walmart recognizes that many of its customers want to shop at stores that are environmentally sensitive. That’s become a goal for Walmart. That can more easily happen when customers’ choices are connected to the life cycle of the products they buy, or through customer education. Suppliers need to get into the act to help that goal be reached. Walmart’s focus to suppliers is four-fold:
- energy and climate
- material efficiency
- natural resources
- people and community
This is part of the transparency Walmart is demanding of its supply chain for its customers. This, plus creating a lifecycle analysis database (a huge project that helps inform people of the total cost of a product), and creating a labeling tool that will let customers make better-educated choices is one way Walmart is greening its business and the planet.
Those are grand-sounding notions, but what can you see today at Walmart stores, supercenters, and club distribution centers, as well as on the road?
- selling CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) — in that volume that helps bring the cost down across the board, for everyone
- natural and organic fiber clothing, and that made of recycled materials
- converting its trucks and vehicles to run on alternative fuels
- generators put on cabs so that the truck doesn’t have to idle while making delivery drops
- solar panels at some stores in California
- LED lighting in signs
- skylights in stores
- energy efficient hand driers in store bathrooms
- low VOC paints are being used, improving air quality in the stores
- free recycling of Samsung and Walmart private label electronics, and low-price recycling of other brands of electronic equipment
- energy efficient TVs (we love our new Vizio)
- reduced packaging (yeah, it has a way to go on that one
- locally grown produce, wild-caught fish, Fair Trade foods
And behind the scenes it is:
- donating food to needy people in the US and Mexico
- making financial donations to CARE to help educate women in India, Peru and Bangladesh
- conserving one acre of wildlife habitat for every developed acre for a Walmart store testing different biodiesel fuels for eventual availability at its stores
- incorporating energy efficiency design and operation at stores and club distribution centers
- investing in renewable energy
- utilizing energy management systems in stores and club distribution centers, and at the home office
- reducing waste through various programs
- and improving its use (and sale) of paper and wood products made from sustainably harvested trees
The list goes on and on, and I may have gone on too long, but I think it’s important to share some of what it’s doing to green its business practices. After all, I am trying to substantiate my unpopular position of shopping at Walmart.
As Walmart works to green its business, making it more sustainable — tending to people, planet, and profit — it is forcing other businesses to do the same thing so they can stay in business. Businesses today have to be sustainable to ultimately be viable. If Walmart’s commitment to sustainability, and running green operations world-wide, encourages other businesses to do the same, directly or indirectly, then I’m all for it.
I expect this article to be controversial. Good. That’s part of what I’m doing with this site, introducing controversy and a venue for discussion. We can all grow through healthy discussion.