Walmart Amps Up the Green Light

The recent news from the political front on global warming has made many hearts heavy. The Copenhagen climate talks fizzle; the well-respected head of the UN climate change convention resigns. And in a polarized Congress, climate legislation languishes, while irresponsible politicians are claiming that climate science is "snake oil" and seeking ways to prosecute scientists.

How exciting, then, to get a high-wattage jolt of energy—and responsible leadership—from a powerful ally in the fight against global warming: Walmart, one of the largest companies in the world. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, these days politics doesn’t make strange bedfellows—business does.

Walmart's pollution reduction goal will affect every step of the manufacturing process from raw materials to recycling.

Walmart isn't waiting for politicians or regulators to do the right thing. Last week CEO Mike Duke stood on a podium with EDF's Fred Krupp and announced a goal of eliminating 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from Walmart's global supply chain by the end of 2015 (watch webcast of the announcement). That's the equivalent of taking more than 3.8 million cars off the road for a year. Or, if you look at it another way — saving 2 billion gallons of gasoline a year.

To find these reductions, Walmart will be asking the estimated 100,000 companies that supply it to cut the amount of carbon they emit when they produce, package and ship their products. This pollution reduction goal will affect every step of the manufacturing process from raw materials to recycling.

For instance, suppliers could label clothes to be washed in cold water instead of hot water, or accelerate the innovation of fabrics that dry faster. "The significance of Walmart's commitment is the shift in perspective that it represents,” says Elizabeth Sturcken, EDF's managing director for corporate partnerships. “It's like moving from using a microscope to using a satellite to find opportunities for carbon pollution reduction across the globe."

This action, the result of five years of collaboration with EDF and others, is sure to have a tremendous ripple effect. When Walmart makes a sea change, it hauls other companies along in its wake. And these companies are not small: Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble. Moreover, Walmart reaches consumers at home, a surefire way to change attitudes and habits. Consider a few examples:

  • When Walmart decided that the shipping and storage of large containers of laundry detergent was wasteful (so much of it was water), it told suppliers it would only carry concentrates to be sold in smaller containers—and that’s become the dominant form of detergent at Walmart and all other retailers.
  • When Walmart took a hard look at the DVDs on its shelves, the company asked 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment to make the plastic packaging lighter, cutting lifecycle carbon emissions significantly and saving energy. Subsequently, the lighter packaging was used for software and games as well. These greener products are now being sold everywhere – not just at Walmart – an example of how a small change can have a big multiplier effect.
  • When with EDF's help, Walmart decided to educate its customers about the energy efficiency of CFLs by setting up informative displays in their stores, it sold hundreds of millions of bulbs. That compelled manufacturers to make refinements in their design and the quality of their light, transforming an entire industry.

WalMart by NumbersWalmart has also been addressing its own carbon footprint—though that is dwarfed by suppliers' emissions. It is increasing the efficiency of its trucks and stores. All this is saving the company money, and that, of course, is what Walmart is about. The company can, and undoubtedly will, do more. As Mike Duke, Walmart's president, puts it: "We need to get ready for a world in which energy will only be more expensive, and there will only be a greater need to operate with less carbon in the supply chain."

More than a third of all Americans shop at the country's largest retailer every week. To critics, such big box stores are juggernauts indifferent to quality and local values. Certainly, large retailers' way of doing business reinforces corporate and global food production. Walmart, like others, relies on a massive network of transport spanning great distances. Global sourcing has occasionally resulted in shoddy or even dangerous products on retailers' shelves, such as when lead paint was found in toys from China. Like all chain stores, the outlets are physically disassociated from the very towns in which they sit, though they certainly create jobs, no small matter. But it's also true that Walmart has begun developing closer relationships with its suppliers, buying locally, demanding better quality, and now, reducing its carbon emissions.

WalMart's Carbon CutsAs John Lyle, who was a professor of landscape architecture at California Polytechnic Institute, wrote: "What humans designed we can redesign and what humans built, we can rebuild." Walmart's climate initiative is an important step in that direction. Participation is voluntary, though Walmart has made it clear that companies that cut their emissions will have an advantage in getting their product onto its shelves. Compliance remains a thorny issue, as the international supply chain is plagued by practices like illegal logging and phony labeling. Walmart is working on a detailed set of guidelines for accountability (you can comment on it on EDF's Innovation Exchange website in a few weeks), and is pressing for more transparent sourcing. "We need a clear chain of custody from start to finish," explains EDF project manager Michelle Harvey.

In this recession, we've heard a lot about what's gone wrong with globalization. But today, it is possible that Walmart, one of the most agile players in the global economy, can show us how to harness the world marketplace to encourage innovation and cut dangerous pollution. "Walmart's work will impact almost every American consumer, regardless of where they shop," says Steve Hamburg, EDF's Chief Scientist. "These are the products that are sold on every Main Street: a win for the environment. The idea is to change industry norms; that will help to strengthen American businesses and reduce the impact of our consumer society."

Some thoughtful environmentalists feel we aren't going to get things right until we have a wholesale transformation of our values—and that includes cutting way down on consumption. As David Orr writes: "We do not often see the true ugliness of the consumer economy." We need a rebirth of social values that protect the environment. But that kind of change takes a long time, perhaps generations. We have experienced that painful crawl in the evolution of our attitudes about race, feminism and sexuality. How much time do we have?

We are beginning to see glimmers of change in our consumer mentality, partly because of a shaky economy and partly because of demographics. I have a hunch—based on anecdotal evidence—that baby boomers, facing empty nests and insecure stock markets, are scaling back their lifestyles, moving into smaller homes and lightening up. There does come a time when enough's enough—when we no longer feel the need for more stuff that's going to be thrown away.

There is a profound value in slowing down the pace of our lives, deepening our connections to the natural world, and honoring what is, after all, our children's heritage.

The more we understand the consequences of waste and pollution, the more intolerable those become.

I believe Walmart understands this message. As the company's president says, America needs "comprehensive legislative policy that addresses energy, energy security, the country's competitiveness and reducing pollution." Sure, cutting waste is good for business, and recasting the argument against global warming as a matter of wastefulness is smart marketing. But the message from Walmart to the American people is loud and clear: America's corporate leaders want action on global warming!

So if you're wondering who is selling snake oil these days….well, perhaps the global warming deniers will consider shrinking their packaging.

Personal Nature
Take action! Tell the Senate to cap the pollution causing global warming.

91 Responses

Comment from Teresa
March 9th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

So according to this article WalMart is annoucing THEY will make reductions by "asking the estimated 100,000 companies that supply it to cut the amount of carbon they emit when they produce, package and ship their products" In other words WalMart is merely attempting to shift poor public opinion about their evil ways with "green talk", but no action.
Sorry, WalMart is a corporate conglomerate that puts small local businesses OUT OF BUSINESS. I've seen it firsthard. And WalMart is supporting the Chinese economy because almost everything they sell comes from China. Remember the old days when they advertised "made in America"? Notice that they don't do that anymore.
I occasionally have to shop at WalMart when I need something I can't get in my area (which is semi-rural), without driving 30-35 miles. However I try not to shop at WalMart, and in fact I try not to patronize mega stores of any kind unless I absolutely have to. Support your local small businesses (aka your neighbors), your community, your local farmers etc. They actually care about their customers because their livlihood depends upon it. And the tax revenues STAY IN YOUR CITY/TOWN.
I am City government employee, the wife of a small business owner and the daughter of a self employed father.

Comment from Julie
March 9th, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Walmart is interested in its bottom line. Switching to energy saving methods is very cost effective. Walmart thwarts labor organizing efforts and does not offer benefits to its employees. Walmart purchases products manufactured in foreign countries thereby contributing to American job loss and encouraging poor labor conditions in those foreign countries. Walmart can call itself green but the bottom line is only black or red.

Comment from Jess
March 9th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I like this article. The fact is, most everyone is going to shop at Wal-Mart. There are people who won’t but most do. When I go to my Wal-Mart it is packed everytime. Why, because it’s cheap and everything is there. They already eliminate some gases by making it so you don't have to travel all over to go to 2 or 3 different places to get everything that you need. One stop.
So wanting to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases is a bonus. Who cares why they are doing it they still are! All business are in it to make money, the bottom line. But if Wal-Mart is going to help save the planet in the process, Good Job!!!

Comment from J Davis
March 9th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Wow global warming…… such lies…..every scientist is full of crap…..global warming….I laugh every-time I see it…. just another way for the government to make some $$$. Everyone knows all the data is crap…. yet im suppose to give my money to the EDF after already paying enough taxes as is? give me a break I wouldnt give them a penny for their thoughts….because they are crap anyways!

Comment from Comments from Margaia
March 9th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I find it very interesting and quite enlightening to read all the various responses which reveal insights into who we Americans are. What diversity!… from those who have no sense or knowledge of the scientific facts related to climate change/global warming (either due to ignorance, lack of opportunity for educating themselves, fear or sheer refusal to know what we are facing);to those who fear or don't want to let go of their affluent life style or addiction to consumerism; to those who don't realize that WalMart unfortunately is here to stay, so this first "Big Step" in the right direction should be appreciated for what it is, hoping that it wll lead to more and more steps in the right direction that will affect all other corporations; to those who hail EDF for working with WalMart to help effect some important changes. Let's hope EDF continues to work with WalMart to pressure them on all the other issues people point out, so that more positive change can happen! I think we need to realize that every step in the direction of working toward counter-acting climate change/global warming, whether it's each little positive step we take as individuals, or the larger steps made by corporations, all count when we join forces. Yes, it may all be too little too late, because we've been getting information and signs about the changing environment caused by human beings for the past several decades, but we've only awakened lately to the impending catastophes that await us. At least what we do NOW can slow down or lessen the effects of what is happening in and on our Home Planet, but what is already lost will never be recovered. We are not handing down to our children the magnificent Earth that we have known. So let's all do what we can — without judging or condeming other's intentions, goals and actions — to save what we can of our beloved planet Earth! I'm 75 yrs old, and I've been doing all I can (as I learn more and more what can be done), since I was 35!

Comment from gabsmith
March 9th, 2010 at 8:16 pm

How much easier it is to take the low road toward a high profile company. How quickly you forget the RAPID RESPONSE of WALMART in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina when WALMART dispatched 1500 of their own trucks to help the people in need in New Orleans when our own President remained impotent to send aid. Let's get on board or get out of the way and support all businesses who have the forsite to do the right thing!

Comment from golden2husky
March 9th, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Many good points about WalMart, both pro and con. While I do not shop there, I do shop the Depot often. One key point to bring out is that we should be concerned about minimizing our footprint. As consumers we all make some impact, some more than others. WalMart's "new" green(er) policies will be beneficial even if we choose to go elsewhere. The key statement was "…When Walmart makes a sea change, it hauls other companies along in its wake…" So even if one dislikes WM for a myriad of good reasons, these polices will encourage many other companies to become more environmentally responsible. We also have to be realistic. Despite all the negativity a lot of people still shop there and that is not going to change. So we might as well get as much environmental benefit out of them that we can.

Comment from John M. Morgan
March 9th, 2010 at 9:30 pm

I agree with Gregory Hilbert and urge people to read the Nation article.
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100322/hari/single

Comment from Gregory Hilbert
March 9th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

I repeat my comment of March 9 at 1:06PM.

Thank you John Morgan above for urging that people read the Nation article at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100322/hari/single

For the record, EDF states that it accepts no funding from Walmart, and that all of the money it receives for such partnerships as it has with Walmart are funded by such organizations as The Overbrook Foundation. EDF maintains staffed offices in Bentonville Arkansas where Walmart is headquartered. EDF receives over $100 Million in grants and donations yearly. Moreover, if you review EDF publicity links you will observe Walmart will obtain it's paltry 1% reduction in emissions courtesy of its suppliers, including the huge multinational corporations from whom EDF can take money without anyone knowing Walmart pressed them to. Since I commented at 1:06 PM today their logos disappeared from the for-profit website to which this blog posted a link!
EDF went from grants and donations of $52 Million to over $100 Million in just 5 years, by making itself among other things a promoter of the "too little and too late practices" of its many greedy for-profit corporate partners, contributors, and oligarchical allies, Walmart and the Waltons included.
Does the blogger of this website deny receiving compensation from EDF for praising Walmart, either in the form of money or other good and valuable consideration in anticipation of personal profit?

Comment from Merrijo Hatfield
March 9th, 2010 at 11:19 pm

I don't shop at Walmart either, because of the way it treats its employees and suppliers. In particular, when my (disabled) daughter worked there – doing a good job! – they treated her badly – and illegally. They kept promising they would correct the policies, but never did. She should have sued them, instead of quitting.

I do know of one good thing episode, though. When CA had its terrible wildfires (about ten years ago), they allowed anyone who needed to to park their trailers in their parking lots.

Also: Our local religious camp (Thousand Pines), was helping the firefighters; when Walmart executives heard about it, they came out and personally dove into the work. They also contributed a lumber mill to help convert the burned trees into dormitories; also beds, linens, and anything else needed.

Comment from MM (Arkansas)
March 10th, 2010 at 12:03 am

<<>>

Yes. I can easily imagine a technically "sustainable" world in which there is so little of any real value that there is no point living in it. Culture matters. Ours is deeply pathological, and sick unto death. The entire Wal-mart phenomenon is only one symptom of this. We live during the fall of the second "Rome" (that's the U.S., to be clear), there is no question about that anymore; and like ancient Rome, we (the U.S.) will collapse under our own corruption; that seems inevitable now. The only question for me is how long the death throes will take, and whether our festering disease will poison the rest of the world irretrievably first. It may be that little "band-aids" like this move on Wal-Mart's part, which might somewhat slow the destruction, might make the ultimate damage worse by slowing the collapse. I don't say this lightly, because I have a child myself, and I don't relish the thought of her living in the Dark Ages–but they are so clearly coming anyway, it begins to seem that it might be best to bring them swiftly and limit the extent of the degradation before the "reboot" that might be hoped for in the aftermath. My advice–build or join the strongest "monastery" you can find. These were the isolated strongholds of education and culture during the last Dark Age. Perhaps they will take different forms this time, but a securable and somewhat insular setting is probably important. Plant a garden, wherever you can. Buy nothing packaged in plastic (hint: real food isn't). Turn off your television and get rid of your cellphone (don't throw it away though, it's hazardous waste). Read a book. Feed your brain and your body only healthy, REAL things (hint: anything on a screen–including this message–isn't). Talk to the people you love face to face. Cherish the time you have with them; the times they truly are a-changing, ready or not. Pray. Pray harder. God help us.

Comment from Zainab Faruqui Ali
March 10th, 2010 at 12:47 am

my congratulations to walmart for taking measures to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from Walmart's global supply chain! every step, small or big, counts in the movement for reducing global warming.

Comment from caroline
March 10th, 2010 at 3:04 am

I am so disappointed that EDF posted this huge endorsement of WalMart sent to people who I assume by conscience try not to darken their doors with their shadow. Nothing in this article will make me shop at WalMart because of the destruction they represent to all the communities they invade and the treatment of their employees. So WalMart employs 2M people, I bet those people would be so much happier if they were employed by a small business, those same ones that WalMart put out of business with their behemoth, horrible stores where they were treated like human beings; so WalMart has 200M customers per week, those customers would be much better served in businesses that really cared about their patronage in a more personal and humanitarian way.

I despise WalMart and will never shop there, I'm disappointed with this writer and I will unsubscribe with EDF for trying to sell us a rotten bill of goods.

Comment from Donna H.
March 10th, 2010 at 3:17 pm

There are so many good, truthful comments here. Most of them reflect my opinion of WalMart and the reason why I haven't shopped at WalMart since the founder, Sam Walton, died and his heirs took over the company. Mr. Walton had a business philosophy (as stated in the book "The WalMart Decade") that he didn't want his business to grow to a size that made it impossible for him to visit every store personally at least once a year. When he did visit he didn't announce himself or identify himself as he walked around the store observing the conditions and the atmosphere, interacting with customers and staff. He was truly concened about the people who worked for him. It was reported that if he found the manager sitting in his office he would ask him about conditions he had seen. If the manager couldn't explain he was reminded that his "office" was the store and that he should be out there, "managing by walking around." He believed that the "Made in America" slogan truly reflected what a business should be concerned with – buying American made products kept American people working so they would have money to spend with American businesses. All of the changed within a very short period of time when his heirs and successors decided that they didn't have enough wealth but needed to make even more, regardless of how they got it. WalMart will convince me that they have really changed their ways when they once again adopt and act by Sam Walton's philosophy. Until then, I won't spend my money in their stores. I don't care how "green" they profess to be.

Comment from Just my $0.02
March 10th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Paul Reith hit the nail on the head.

After reading ALL of the comments, I went back and discarded any that seemed to be founded in environmental dogma, then I removed the obvious nut jobs, and finally the blind haters of corporations. I suggest that the readers do the same and see what is left (no pun intended).
From my perspective, Walmart is exercising free market capitalism for the benefit of WALMART with consequential benefit to all Americans.
Business is the engine of economic growth and business made the United States of America the most innovative, prosperous, ethical, generous nation in history.

I expect that many of the true-believers have already checked out and are busily typing viscious responses…but I believe that 300,000,000 Americans each making modest, environmentally friendly changes to their everyday lives serves the cause far more than a mob of frothing-at-the-mouth zealots.

Lunacy will not take the day, but rather moderation and civilly presented modest proposals of changes that we all can live with.

Just my $0.02

Comment from Kathleen Williams
March 10th, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I would like to be counted in the ranks of those who are appalled at EDF's support of this corporation. Wal Mart is single-handedly leading the trend to double the amount of trash created in America through its competitive, shoddy, planned-obsolescent products.

Comment from Caleb W Cliff
March 11th, 2010 at 1:40 pm

In response to the varying opinions, it is important to understand that Walmart is currently here and it is a company with massive influence and power. Yes, it takes these actions for its bottom line. And yes, Walmart does not harbor a sustainable model, but for the time being, the side effect at least helps to shift other large companies behaviors. And until we have better models, more localized, stripped down and permaculture style models, their influence will remain. It may as well have a good effect.

But we should all be looking into how we can grow things from the bottom up, empower communities and shift towards localizing businesses. Small scale factories, farming, creating side-chain recycling outfits, like putting an aluminum plant next to a can recyclery, would lessen fuel costs and create more jobs in local communities, shortening commutes and reconnecting communities.

Without further digression, all of this must remain relevant to current states of business and agriculture. Yet as such, it is vastly important to keep pushing intelligent ideas of scaling back and localization for future developments. We are completely capable of creating sustainable models. Thank you.

Comment from Just my $0.02
March 11th, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Bravo Caleb!

That is what I call RATIONAL ENVIRONMENTALISM.

Brain-storming by families, communities, counties, and states allows the best, most-implementable ideas to rise to the top.

Just my $0.02

Comment from Evelyn Thompson
March 11th, 2010 at 5:45 pm

I work at Walmart. I seldom buy anything there, because most of their merchandise is made in China. When Sam was alive, there were a lot more American made goods available. If they would stock American made goods, the carbon footprint would be significantly less than it is now. It's a lot less expensive to ship w/in the continental U.S. than it is to ship from the other side of the world.

Are they going "green"? I guess so, they took the door greeters' heaters away (in Pikeville, KY) this past winter because of "rising utility bills". These were SMALL heaters where we could at least warm our hands & feet during this very cold winter. Now, get this: The cart bay, where the returned carts are stored, has a large overhead heater on the ceiling. The carts have heat — those who stand by the doors to greet customers coming in have none. Can you say, "BULLSH*T"?

WallyWorld is not about being green for the sake of the planet. They are about "LOOKING GOOD TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC". They care nothing for their employees, and do all they can to get anyone with any significant amount of time there to quit, so they can hire newbies who don't cost as much to pay.

I fully agree with those who said Walmart is the anti-Christ of stores.

Comment from Ysusf Mohammad
March 12th, 2010 at 2:26 am

"So if you're wondering who is selling snake oil these days….well, perhaps the global warming deniers will consider shrinking their packaging."

Just because people don't believe in global warming doesn't mean they don't save energy or aren't concerned about the planet. EDF thinks in order to be an environmentalist one must believe in global warming? The two aren't related. Talk about selling the snake oil.

Comment from Gregory Hilbert
March 12th, 2010 at 10:36 am

I repeat my comments CONDEMNING EDF's praise of Walmart made March 9 at 1:06PM and 10:22PM above. I repeat that the FACT of the math of Walmart's goal is a pittance net reduction of 1 million of its 20 million tons of emissions, only 1% per year over a 5-year period!

I cite comments made by others above applauding Walmart's pledge to reduce its emissions by 20 million tons(which is NOT what Walmart pledged)as PROOF EDF's distorted presentation is so grossly misleading as to constitute AN OUTRAGEOUSLY ADVERTENT DECEPTION IF IT IS NOT PUBLICLY CORRECTED VIA EDF EMAIL TO IT'S ENTIRE LIST. I will not relent until EDF does so.

In the meantime I ask readers to see the CALL TO ACTION:
http://www.greeneducationnetwork.com/article/gens-gregory-hilbert-condemns-edf-praise-of-walmart

Comment from Susan Markowitz
March 12th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Walmart giveth and Walmart taketh away. Mostly taketh away! I nearly fainted when I read about this ED's "unholy alliance." Give Walmart a pat on the back, even a cheer, for making one stride in the right direction. As so many others have pointed out, they do not deserve an alliance with a respected environmental organization such as ED, while they are at the same time committing so many other, serious human-rights and anti-environmental violations (forcing towns to accept one of their mega-boxes, along with the attendant mega-parking and mega-drainage issues).

I am deeply disappointed in ED for allying itself with a company with such a sorry record on fair-employment-practices and purchases of goods made in sweatshops. Yes, environmental steps are important; so is a company's overall behavior.

There are so many other hardworking, worthy environmental organizations out there, and so few dollars on my (unemployed) part, that I will henceforth redirect same to those which evaluate the overall practices of their ally-companies before endorsing same.

Comment from Joe Zinich
March 12th, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Does it matter why Walmart is going green? Or is it more important that they are?

I hope that more businesses and individuals jump on the profit driven green bandwagon. Save money and oh by the way you also save the planet. That is a win win.

I deplore many of Walmart's business practices, but they are expert at driving cost from their system and their suppliers systems. They are profit driven.

Few people and even fewer businesses are driven by profit. Demonstrate how being green will reduce individual household costs and reduce businesses costs and increase their sales and they'll all jump on the bandwagon. Isn't that what we want?

Comment from Skye
March 12th, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I am SOOO sick of the us against them mentality! Yes, some of Wal-Marts policiies suck, but so do K-Mart's, Costco's, Penney's, Sears, Kohl's and a bevy of other non-mom and pop stores. I don't hear anyone complaining about them or boycotting them. If we're fighting for change and a company is willing to use the assistance of an organization like EDF that is ready to step in a help implement changes that benefit ALL, why not??? Wake up people that are objecting! Go, EDF!! You have my continued support!!

Comment from quentinp
March 12th, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Fascinating article, and comments.

If I had to choose between
1) People who care who and no difference to the planet
and
2) People who don't care (as many above claim of WalMart) but are working to make the planet better

I would choose 2 in a heartbeat – and keep my eye on them. Which is what I see happening. And how sure can we be that WalMart's motivations are purely impure?

For ages we've been saying that green is good business and as soon as it actually becomes good business we need to encourage that shift, not complain about our assumption that certain people in certain companies true motives might not be as pure or self-sacrificing as ours.

Thank you EDF for starting this work with WalMart, may others pay attention, and may we use this to prove to some lead-footed politicians that change is possible.

Those that have a problem with WalMart for other reasons need to fight their fights for their reasons and through their channels. Refusing to reduce CO2 emitted by WalMart because it might actually help the company would be perverse.

This is the company that decided a year or so ago to push the sale of 1,000,000 CFLs (from memory) even though their customers were not asking for this shift (and at WM what the customers ask for is almost always what they get).

If EDF did it (read their policy about dealing with for-profit companies) then it's good enough for me.

Comment from Danielle
March 12th, 2010 at 2:27 pm

As per the Center for Biological Diversity (see below) their change is the result of settling a lawsuit brought against them by the CBD.

Suit Forces Walmart to Slash Greenhouse Gas Pollution

Settling lawsuits filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, late last week Walmart agreed to adopt significant anti-global-warming measures in constructing two new Supercenters in Southern California. The settlement requires the nation's largest retailer to install three 250-kilowatt rooftop solar facilities and incorporate cutting-edge efficiency measures at planned stores in Perris and Yucca Valley, as well as to start a refrigerant audit and improvement program to reduce emissions at certain existing California Walmart stores. Walmart will also contribute $120,000 to the Mojave Desert Land Trust for land-conservation purposes. The big-box chain agreed to employ similar CO2-reduction measures for a proposed Supercenter in Riverside.

The settlement adds to the Center's list of successes in upholding California's premier environmental and land-use law, the California Environmental Quality Act, to improve new development, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, save energy, save money, and promote a vibrant green economy. In the words of Center Senior Attorney Matt Vespa, "If big-box stores are to be built in California, measures like the installation of solar-power systems must be adopted to minimize the projects' greenhouse gas pollution."

Get more from the Los Angeles Times.

Comment from D Lamont
March 12th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

How about that 18 wheeler in the photo? And, the fact that most people who shop big box stores drive long distances in their SUVs to stock up on all those cheap products from China! Then they tend to overbuy, so create waste.

Let's have a little reality here.

D Lamont

Comment from R Collins
March 12th, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Perhaps EDF could also approach WalMart about not coming in and dominating the local economy of entire communities. All the CFL, packaging changes and green office materials in the world can NEVER make up for the devastation they employ with the products the actual products they put on the market,the communities they irreparably change by FORCING their way through the Local Government process, by the good local economies they destroy.By supplanting,present and future produced local and INDIGENOUS in place products.
And what of cradle to cradle ?

Walmart's are equivalent to the giant ocean trawlers – is that who you want to give a platform for a pro bono green washing to ? They not only create a market for literally tons of cheap non recyclable crap,and make re localization of our economy impossible in the process they destroy our culture as well. The local 'market' is one of the foundations of culture. All these issues have enormous ghg consequences attached l that far outstrip the new WalMart changes.

I believe our job is to help people understand why the 3 E's Environment,Equity, Economy are critical to our survival here on earth – Walmart will never pass that test they only want to green up it for marketing sake. I think we understand getting a big bang for GHG emmissions buck – but don't you think you should also acknowledge the whole picture, otherwise that is not a well rounded education for 'your members' and the watching public.The message EDF is giving is that those particular ghg reductions make up for all the above – that is why it is called green washing in the first place.

Across the country many organizations exist that are working to re- localize and the actions of the big non profits legitimizing the big corporations or at the very least self censoring themselves from talking about the local consequences of giant corporate has an impact on our work down here in the knitty gritty.The 'trench' where the shops shut down , the 5 acre green belt forest gets cut for a huge heat island,the Town Council hits a corporate lawsuit wall -all for the plastic ware distributing WalMart to have it's identical building in our town. And our unique home now looks like anywhere America with storm water pouring off the acres big parking lots.

And then when the doors open and the community comes in with a request for something slightly unusual or more 'green' that we used to get at 'Jim's Hardware' we are told by the part time stressed out store manager that it's out of his hands and we must contact corporate headquarters . . . .

We have now been fully 'transformed' alright,

R Collins

Comment from A. Hoffman
March 13th, 2010 at 5:18 am

The statement by Walmart's president that America needs "comprehensive legislative policy that addresses energy, energy security, the country's competitiveness and reducing pollution." is so incredibly Orwellian, hypocritical and oxymoronic coming from him, that it makes me wonder how stupid does he actually think people are to not see how utterly transparent that statement is. Walmart was THE major force that forced American industry to close their plants and set up shop in countries with minimal (or no) environmental laws, weak or non-existant labor laws, and toxic and hazardous materials, all so Walmart could maximize their profits and enrich the Walton family to the tune of billions. I wonder how much the president of Walmart would support legislative policy that reduced pollution if that legislation clamped down on the wasteful and polluting shipping of cheap, throw-away, useless crap from halfway around the world?

Come on EDF, give me break! After reading this Walmart promo piece, I feel like throwing up! Americans need to face the hard facts: Americans make up 5% of the world's population but consume 24% of the world's resources. On average, one American consumes as much energy as 2 Japanese, or 6 Mexicans, or 13 Chinese, or 31 Indians, or 128 Bangladeshis, or 307 Tanzanians, or 370 Ethiopians! If undeveloped countries consumed at the same rate as the US, four complete planets the size of the Earth would be required! And this is the lifestyle that Walmart, and apparently EDF promotes here and abroad!

So go on and make all of your centrist, corporatist, environmentalist supporters feel like they are helping the planet by buying DVD's with thinner packaging, clothes with different labels, and concentrated laundry soap. It's like fiddling while Rome burns. As you do that, the mass consumption and gluttony of resources promoted by Walmart and companies like them will only continue to help us swirl ever faster towards the drain.

Global warming is very real, and undeniable, as is toxic waste from the unregulated production and use of hazardous chemicals and pesticides that Walmart encourages. If you really stand for "Environmental Defense", you should be pushing for much more drastic and serious steps to save humanity and the species that cohabitate the planet with us, because if we continue our reckless lifestyle, the planet will shake us off like the annoying and useless fleas that we are.

Comment from Steven Goldstein
March 13th, 2010 at 11:14 am

Good job EDF.Now if only someone can only get Walmart to have a majority of their employees as full time employees so they are eligible for health insurance. Walmart has circumvented the insurance issue by hiring part time employees. Greed has motivated their going "green". Greed has also kept the majority of their employees fron attaining health benefits.

Comment from darlene carter
March 13th, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Those of us in small communities allowed Wal Mart to come into our rural areas based on the premise that they were a "BUY AMERICAN" based company. They drove out all the small businesses with their price point and left us "hog tied" with no where else to go unless we drove to a larger community.
Once they got us "Hooked" they no longer buy American made, they don't hire enough people in the community, proof; look at the lines of people. They have 12 cash registers to get you out but only have 4 open. Their pay is minimum, they are increasing prices while reducing size, they do not contribute to our community with regards to their profit. I went and asked for some bags of dog and/or cat food for our animal shelter and was refused. They claimed they only bring the ones that are busted or open. I was told by an employee that the people in the warehouse take them home. They wouldn't even contribute 1 bag. I buy for my pets and the shelter every month from them and spend abaout $100. All the other people in the county do the same thing. They should be so ashamed not to help the shelter when we all buy from them.
I have nothing good to say about them. I am the voice for everyone I know here in Grant County.

Comment from Gregg Lavoie
March 13th, 2010 at 7:21 pm

The debate that has been going on about global warming in my opinion is complete idiocy. One side stating global warming is a result of human pollution, the other side arguing global warming is not a result of human pollution. Both sides clearly acknowledging the existence of extreme human pollution of the planet. So it does not matter whether global warming is the result of human pollution, it just matters that there is extreme human pollution and we all know it is damaging our environment. Why waste our time arguing whether it is causing global warming or not. How about we spend our time cleaning up our messes and preventing them in the future! A much better use of our time!

Comment from Pat
March 13th, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Folks, can we back up a minute on this topic? WalMart is in it for the money – yes, of course. Maybe you don't want to shop there. Maybe you don't want to buy new stuff. But millions of people do both of those things and they do them at WalMart. And a lot of them don't care about the environment. This retailer is making their products cleaner, and that's a choice that their customers don't have to make – the company will do it for them. Is it so difficult to say that this move on their part is better than if it didn't put these policies in place? Think about, please.

Comment from Nancy Fifer
March 15th, 2010 at 11:34 am

I loathe Walmart and my friends laugh because I boycott the "evil empire". I admire your efforts,but it will take a lot more than "green" to convince me that the greedy Walmart family has changed its spots. Too many egregious offenses to mention. Nancy Fifer

Comment from Ed Limey
March 19th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Wal-Mart and China’s Pollution Problems

As Beijing prepares for the opening ceremonies of the Olympic summer games later this week, more and more attention is being drawn to China’s pollution problems. The country is notorious for smog-filled air and chemically tainted waterways. While cleaning crews struggle to clear up algae-strangled rivers, many athletes are planning to compete with face masks because the air quality is so poor.

China recently became the world’s largest CO2 producer, producing one quarter of the world’s carbon emissions. A post on Treehugger today points out that 33% of those emissions are from export manufacturing.

Wal-Mart is an integral part of this problem. As we mentioned in yesterday’s post on China’s human rights violations, Wal-Mart isn’t the cause of China’s pollution problems, but it certainly has a vested interested in keeping China’s environmental standards low. Were China to improve environmental regulation, manufacturers looking to source as cheaply as Wal-Mart demands would inevitably be forced to other countries and China would loose billions.

The Olympics are only highlighting a problem that has been going on for decades: companies like Wal-Mart force countries like China to sacrifice environmental integrity for production profits. It’s a critical aspect of corporate social responsibility that Wal-Mart glibly passes-over in its sustainability reports, but China’s carbon production is everyone’s affair. As the Olympics have revealed, China’s people are suffering from these practices and shouldn’t be made to bear the world’s burden.

It’s Not You, It’s Me: 33% of China’s CO2 Emissions From Export Manufacturing [TreeHugger]
33% of China’s carbon footprint blamed on exports [New Scientist]
Global CO2 emissions: increase continued in 2007 [Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency]

Pingback from Dominique Browning's Personal Nature Column » Walmart Redux: Citizens and Consumers
March 26th, 2010 at 9:27 am

[…] normally write about the same subject twice in a row, but the impassioned responses to last month's column on Walmart's move to cut carbon emissions from their supply chain made me want to give it […]

Pingback from Walmart Redux: Citizens and Consumers — EDF Innovation Exchange Blog
March 26th, 2010 at 1:06 pm

[…] normally write about the same subject twice in a row, but the impassioned responses to last month's column on Walmart's move to cut carbon emissions from their supply chain made me want to give it […]

Comment from P. Neisman
April 2nd, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Wal Mart is China's distribution channel into the US market, sending us pollution, garbage products, toxic products, tainted foods and chemicals. Boycott Wal-Mart and buying only US or Canada made products will sustain our economy. The unfair trade practices for China has to be stopped, and cheap broken products that end up in our landfill is enough of a reason. We support your boycott, keep up the steady consistent movement.

Pingback from EDF, Wal-Mart & Sunshine » ren-new.com » Helping you make sustainability profitable.
April 5th, 2010 at 6:02 am

[…] Dominique Browning wrote an article about the positive environmental impact of Wal-Mart's work and of their collaboration with EDF.  That prompted these thoughts: […]

Comment from ANNMARIEThomas32
April 14th, 2010 at 5:22 pm

People deserve very good life time and mortgage loans or just short term loan can make it much better. Just because people's freedom bases on money state.

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