terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

I might like Wal-Mart… in about 5 years October 25, 2007

Filed under: bioneers, energy — terra @ 7:00 am

David Cooperrider mentioned Wal-Mart in his opening address of the Bioneers Conference on Friday.

Wal-Mart’s CEO, Lee Scott, has come up with 3 goals, which will be implemented with the investment of $500 million a year:

  • reduce greenhouse gases from stores and distribution centers by 20 percent over the next seven years
  • increase the fuel efficiency of the truck fleet by 25 percent over the next three years and double the figure within a decade
  • design a new store that was at least 25 percent more energy-efficient within four years.

That’s a pretty good start! “[Scott] said improving fuel mileage in the trucking fleet by one mile per gallon would save more than $52 million per year.”

Appreciative Inquiry

Wal-Mart created these goals after talks with employees, suppliers, customers, and critics.

As part of their Appreciative Inquiry process, it was also discovered that 64% of magazines printed don’t get sold. Everyone knows this but they don’t change anything. 64% means 2.6 billion million magazines shredded every year. There was a summit, and magazine publishers agreed to reduce the waste by 50% in one year. This action will save 443,000 trees, and 4.6 million gallons of diesel fuel. – according to Cooperrider

Wal-Mart has broadened the initiative to 255 items in the toy department. Reducing packaging will save 3,425 tons of corrugated materials, and 1,358 barrels of oil annually.

Goals reached, new goals needed

Wal-Mart has already reached their goal of selling 100 million compact fluorescent light bulbs, as part of their “Change a Light, Change the World” program. The use of those CFLs will have the effect of taking 700,000 cars off the road.

I hope Wal-Mart uses their savings to pay their workers fair wages, and provide health insurance to all of their employees (fewer than 1/2 have company health insurance, compared to Costco’s 80%). Many of Wal-Mart’s products come from China, so it would be nice to see them exert some influence on China to use water and energy more efficiently than they currently do, and to treat their employees better. It’s nice for Wal-Mart to “green” their stores, but they also need to “green” what’s in them. They do have plans to have independent monitoring of overseas production, so they seem to be on the right path to environmental responsibility. We’ll see in about 5 years. Next step… worker rights.


2 Responses to “I might like Wal-Mart… in about 5 years”

  1. terra Says:

    Can you imagine the customer base Wal-Mart will have if they are able to convert their stores to renewable energy and treat their workers better?! Those of us who don’t shop there because of these issues will start shopping there. And, the people who currently shop there will have more renewable resources available to them at Wal-Mart’s low prices. Wal-Mart can never go Fair Trade, but as the largest employer, they have the means to set an example for what a company can do when they put their mind to it. And that sustainability can be profitable.

  2. It certainly would be amazing if Walmart becomes the new century’s leader in green practices. We surely need leaders — the environmental news looks grimmer and grimmer. Reports of severe water shortages globally in just a few years have been circulating this week, and the polar ice cap is shrinking faster than anyone predicted, while carbon emissions go up up up.

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