Wal-Mart pledges to buy and preserve land to compensate for footprint

Retail leviathan Wal-Mart, stung by a spate of bad press accusing it of sprawling consumption of open spaces, excessive storm-water runoff at construction sites, discrimination against women, employment of illegal immigrants, ruthless price-cutting strategies that drive jobs abroad, and shabby treatment of employees … er, “associates” (did we miss anything?), has launched a campaign it hopes will burnish its tainted image. The company pledged yesterday to buy and preserve enough land to compensate for the acreage lost to its stores, parking lots, and distribution centers for the next 10 years — and trumpeted its pledge in full-page ads in at least 20 newspapers. The land will be purchased through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit conservation organization created by Congress in 1984. Wal-Mart said it will spend $35 million on its “Acres for America” program — roughly 0.014 percent of its quarter-trillion annual sales.