Walmart’s effort to green its stores, trucking fleet, products, and supply chain, alternately dismissed from the left as window dressing and from the right as a costly distraction, has accomplished something that 40 years of environmental activism and regulation never managed: It moved sustainability from the fringe to the forefront of business concerns.
Incomplete and imperfect as they may be, Walmart’s sustainability endeavors have yielded some notable reductions in waste, energy consumption, packaging, and greenhouse gas emissions. But their real significance is less about specific tons of carbon sucked from the company’s footprint or the proportion of its seafood that’s eco-certified (73 percent), and more about the attitudinal sea change represented by putting profit and planet on the same side of the corporate ledger sheet. It reflects a business-friendly view of environmentalism that turns the tables on the drill-baby-drill crowd by asserting — and proving — that sustainable choices can help America prosper and compete.
Walmart was persuaded in 2004 by an outside consultant (a tree-hugging river guide, no less) to begin thinking of su... Read more