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October 14, 2007


David G.

For Wal-Mart, being a greener business IS about being more efficient and increasing sales. Any resulting environmental benefits are just a bonus.

Marc Gunther

Fascinating post, Joel. You write that Wal-Mart's "mission is to sell more stuff to more people" which is "arguably unsustainable." Well, sure. You could say the same about GE, Starbucks or Stonyfield Yogurt.

So how can any company be sustainable? By making that stuff with 100% renewable energy and generating zero waste. As it happens, those are Wal-Mart's goals.

So is Wal-Mart "arguably unsustainable" in some unique way? Or are you making a broader point about capitalism as we know it...

David Fox

Wow - sounds like a 'tipping point' event.

But is there a "green business ecosystem" to support the vision? I hope I'm wrong, but it just seems like a key gating factor. I guess Wal-Mart recognizes the issue and hence in part this event. Hooray for positive change!

Laurens Laudowicz


now will this include only all walmarts in the US or also outside of the US?

Mary Hunt

Two things will keep Wal Mart or any store/product in line during this transformation, A) Sustainable Standards and B) Bloggers who aren't afraid to carve their opinion into the Internet cave wall - especially women bloggers who influence other women consumers and marketing departments.

It's a trust thing. Wal Mart has gone public. The expectations are set. Standards, with third party audits create a "trust, but verify" point for products. If there is a big enough infraction, the public will go public and blog about it. They'll also say nice things as solutions emerge that make us all feel that Climate-Change-Back is possible.

You can't hide anything in this interconnected, transparent world. I'm counting on our emerging global system of checks and balances to keep this sustainable turn, turning in the right direction.

As for too many products? Many will go by the wayside in this move and others will take their place as the public becomes more educated and LCAs become as everyday as MPG. Only strong, sustainable brands will survive as we buy less or buy better.

Jeff Yancey

Capitalism is sustainability’s worst enemy. In today's age the two are both necessary for our long term survival. When enemies come together and try to establish common ground and goals, it is never a pretty site. When these too learn to learn to co-exist with one another it will be a sign of our emergence from adolescence as a species.

Jeff Yancey

In reference to my previous comment...what Wal-Mart is doing is a start.

We have to start somewhere...right?

Michelle Smith

I think that it's beneficial the steps that Walmart is starting to take to place pressure on their suppliers to come up with more innovative products/packaging. This is also a very smart business move, not only for the suppliers, but for Walmart in general. Less packaging on products means more products on the shelf, which means more availability to consumers, which thus means more money for the company(s). I guess turning to a "green" business standpoint has more in common with capitalism than you would automatically think. As well, advertising as a "green" business with "green" products will appeal to a vast consumer market, whether they truly understand "sustainability" or not. Everyone will be proud that they are purchasing "green" products from a "green" staff working at a "green" business. I guess the doubt is inherent in this type of undertaking. Going "green" (properly) takes a lot of work and dedication, and you have to have the majority on board (suppliers, employees, etc) to make a large enough dent in your environmental foot-print. At the same time, if Walmart can make an honest move towards this, it is apparent that it is possible for any business to be looking at this approach. We need to not only be more conscious of our impact on the environment, but be an active part in making things better. For the average person, this is challenging. But when there is easier access to products that are environmentally friendly, I think more people would be inclined to purchase these products. But its not only the products we buy from Walmart, but from other businesses as well. Just think of the ramifications if the best quality products from a large array of business, to clothing, food, cars, housing, were sustainable. Please visit www.theslowhome.com/blog/outrage/ for a different stand point on how the housing industry is impacting the environment and our quality of life, and possible solutions, similar to a large company stepping towards green, that look at affordable housing for the average homeowner that is more sustainable and quality conscious.

Organic Chemistry

For anyone that wants an honest look at Walmart, I always recommend Penn & Teller's B*llSh*t, Season 5 (on NexFlix). It is a humorous look at teh world's largest retailer.

Mat Jobs

dang, i hope walmart doesnt continue to grow so much and become the next standard oil company :/

Little Rock Kid

Walmart will continue to grow, but I don't see how they can become the next standard oil company. The only reason so many people go there is they have cheap prices. If they started gouging then it's back to Super Target.

Brad Willams

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