Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and author of the report Walmart's Assault on the Climate.

Food

Eaters, beware: Walmart is taking over our food system

Aubretia Edick has worked at a Walmart store in upstate New York for 11 years, but she won’t buy fresh food there. Bagged salads, she claims, are often past their sell-by dates and, in the summer, fruit is sometimes kept on shelves until it rots. “They say, ‘We’ll take care of it,’ but they don’t. As a cashier, you hear a lot of people complain,” she said. Edick blames the problems on the store’s chronic understaffing and Walmart’s lack of respect for the skilled labor needed to handle the nation’s food supply. At her store, a former maintenance person was …

Business & Technology

Walmart spends big to help anti-environment candidates

In 2006, Walmart made headlines when its vice president for corporate strategy and sustainability, Andrew Ruben, told a congressional committee that the company “would accept a well-designed mandatory cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases.” Other major U.S. companies had spoken favorably of cap-and-trade, but Walmart made a bigger splash. Not only was it America’s second-largest corporation; it also had deep roots in the country’s coal-burning heartland. But even as Ruben was delivering his testimony, Walmart’s political action committee (PAC) was funneling a river of campaign cash into the coffers of lawmakers who would ensure that the U.S. did absolutely nothing to …

Business & Technology

Can you say ‘sprawl’? Walmart’s biggest climate impact goes ignored

My, that’s a big abandoned parking lot you have.Photo: Rob StinnettEarlier this year, the New Jersey Sierra Club and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance tried but failed to block a permit for a new Walmart supercenter in the small coastal town of Toms River. The development, now moving forward, will destroy habitat for the threatened northern pine snake. What’s especially frustrating about the project, local environmentalists say, is that Walmart already has a store in Toms River. It’s just a mile down the road and will be shuttered when the new supercenter opens. The Toms River site is one of several …

Business & Technology

Walmart’s promised green product rankings fall off the radar

It looks like Walmart’s green-ratings plan has been shelved.Photo: WalmartIn 2009, Walmart created a stir when it announced that it would develop a Sustainability Index to assess the environmental impacts of every item on its shelves and provide an easy rating system to help shoppers make greener choices. CEO Mike Duke described [PDF] the index as “a simple tool that informs consumers about the sustainability of products” and helps them “consume in a more sustainable way.” This, in turn, would induce Walmart’s 100,000 suppliers to shrink their footprints. The company set a five-year timetable. Many commentators gushed. The New York …

Business & Technology

Think Walmart uses 100% clean energy? Try 2%

Walmart is moving like a tortoise toward its clean-energy goal.Context is critical to understanding Walmart’s sustainability initiatives and their impact on the retailer’s overall environmental footprint. But context has been sorely absent in the news media’s coverage of Walmart’s green efforts. Even within the environmental community, conversations about Walmart tend to miss the big picture. Walmart’s renewable-energy activities provide a perfect example. Six years ago, the company announced that it was setting a goal of being “supplied by 100 percent renewable energy.” Succinct, powerfully stated goals are a signature of Walmart’s sustainability campaign — in part, it seems, because journalists …

Business & Technology

Is your stuff falling apart? Thank Walmart

Forever in blue jeans, babe? Not anymore.Photo: bburkyMy friend Tony’s closet is as good a place as any to begin an investigation of Walmart’s environmental impact. Tony has a pair of Levi’s that date back to high school more than 20 years ago. They still fit him and they’re still in rotation. The fabric has a smooth patina that hints at its age, but, compared to another pair of Levi’s he bought only a couple of years ago, this pair actually looks far less worn. The denim is sturdier, the seams more substantial, the rivets bigger. Tony’s old pair of …

Business & Technology

Walmart by the numbers: Green vs. growth

Walmart’s six-year-old sustainability campaign has helped improve its public image, enabling the company to grow bigger and faster. That growth, ironically, has dramatically increased the retailer’s environmental footprint, and hurt local economies and the U.S. job market along the way.

Food

Why is Michelle Obama’s food initiative promoting Walmart?

At Michelle Obama's event announcing that several retailers will open stores in "food deserts," James Gavin said he'd like to see Walmart double its U.S. store count.

Grassroots financing is underwriting a new crop of neighborhood businesses

In the summer of 2008, business partners Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting were making plans to open a bookstore in Brooklyn. Their chosen neighborhood, Fort Greene, was over the moon at the prospect. For years, residents had been clamoring for a bookstore, repeatedly citing it as their top need in surveys conducted by the neighborhood association. Although Fitting and Bagnulo still had a long way to go — they hadn’t found a space yet or secured financing for the venture — the Fort Greene Association decided to throw a party to welcome them to the neighborhood. More than 300 …

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