Wal-Mart declares it’s going green

After months of scattered signs — green-built Supercenters in Texas and Colorado, a program to conserve thousands of acres of land through The Nature Conservancy — Wal-Mart executives have made it official: Their company is going green. Or, well, greenish. In a speech at a biz school yesterday, CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. said Wal-Mart would be putting more pressure on its overseas suppliers to meet environmental and social standards. At a meeting of the Sustainable Packaging Forum, VP Matt Kistler announced that some of Wal-Mart’s petroleum-based packaging would be phased out in favor of corn-based packaging, saying the company would thereby “save the equivalent of 800,000 gallons of gasoline and reduce more than 11 million pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions.” At a meeting of the Corporate Council for Conservation, VP Andrew Ruben announced the company would be selling clothes made from organically grown cotton starting next year. Though it will be a long time before activists soften to the retail giant, its immense size and power make it a potential game changer. We’ll see.