Wal-Mart greens up

Two nights ago I found myself defending Wal-Mart at a dinner party. (This does nothing for one's liberal cred, by the way.)

I had just finished reading Thomas Friedman's sterling piece in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, “The Greening of Geopolitics.” In it Friedman made a case for the greed motive; capitalism, not our vaunted form of government, could ultimately be the the fuel behind reducing greenhouse gasses--not just here but abroad.

I mentioned that Wal-Mart has taken a lead here. Recognizing that customers wanted them to green up, the retail juggernaut hired a sustainability czar to help them do everything from reduce the amount of product packaging to promoting compact fluorescent bulbs. Because of the company's size and clout, the “green” demands they make of suppliers can have far-reaching impacts on energy innovation and conservation. In other words, when a giant rolls over, the earth moves.

Because it's Earth Week, the Wal-Mart web site is touting ways we can all help. Interspersed among its adverts for organic jammies and concentrated detergent and the DVD of An Inconvenient Truth are tips like take short showers and unplug appliances. The Target web site, by way of contrast, is asking us to redecorate our living rooms.

Look, nobody is saying Sam Walton's baby is a perfect corporate citizen. Retail on this unprecedented scale creates vast amounts of waste and CO2 and economic consequences on a level that's difficult to calculate. Wal-Mart is a mixed bag. But it's here and it's big and if they want to go green because it's good business, I say, good on them.

Comments (2) -

April 26. 2007 02:08


I'm wid you, babee. I always thought the Mal-Wart designation was a crock. And capitalism does work. (And Thos Friedman is the tits!)

Susan |

June 29. 2007 11:20


cute-as-a-button but never seemed to date so was he straight or gay or scared or stunted? Another mutual friend, who had such

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