The following is an excerpt from my Green Living column on Examiner.com:
When most of us think of environmentally-friendly stores offering sustainable products made efficiently and fairly, Walmart is often not the first company coming to mind.
Never judge a seemingly endless discount warehouse by its preternatural fluorescense.
The retail giant has already committed to greening its stores, including a plan to tap into solar power, and driven an effort to create more sustainable electronics devices to reduce landfill impact. Now, Walmart is demanding all suppliers provide environmental information on every product carried in its stores. Walmart will use the data to label each item with an eco rating, designed to measure its environmental friendliness and help inform consumers.
“We have to change how we make and sell products,” Mike Duke, President and CEO of Walmart, told about 1,500 suppliers and employees on Thursday, July 16, 2009 at the company’s Sustainability Milestone Meeting; “Sustainability has become a part of everything we do.”
Duke believes the economic crisis is leading consumers to become smarter about saving money, and expressed concern that every economic class be provided with access to quality food and environmentally responsible products. ”We’re living in a world of increasing population and decreasing natural resources,” he observes. “Our use of natural resources for everything we grow, eat, drink, make, package, buy, transport and throw away–all of that is out-pacing the earth’s capacity to sustain us. Fresh food and quality products shouldn’t be available to only a privileged few, they should be available to all.”
In an effort to create a new global retail standard, Walmart is unrolling its Sustainability Index plan in three phases over the next five years: