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Walmart's greenwash: Why the retail giant is still unsustainable

Walmart adopted sustainability as a corporate strategy in 2005.

In This Series

  • Four ways enviros can keep Walmart in the hot seat

    The world's biggest retailer has gotten an undeserved free pass from many environmentalists. It's time to take a tougher line and set a higher standard, argues Stacy Mitchell in the conclusion to her series on Walmart's greenwashing.

  • 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. […]

  • 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; […]

  • Live chat about Walmart’s greenwashing

    Join a live chat with Stacy Mitchell about Walmart's sustainability efforts and how they've been coming up short, on Nov. 30 at 3:00 p.m. ET / noon PT.

  • 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 […]

  • Walmart’s promised green product rankings fall off the radar

    In 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 […]

  • 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. […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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.