Ideally mega companies like Walmart would not exist. They destroy small businesses, drive wages for employers down and turn interesting towns into bland shopping outlets. However, wishing companies like Walmart did not exist is like Jane Hamsher and her friends at FireDogLake wishing Dennis Kucinich would depose Barack Obama and become President in 2012. It simply isn’t going to happen any time soon.
So in the short term, I’ll take positive steps taken by companies like Walmart to reduce carbon emissions, increase their purchusing of organic/sustainable foods and cut down on the use of plastic bags. Just as I would gladly choose Barack Obama over any Republican, I’ll take a mega corporation that believes in sustainability and the seriousness of global warming over one that doesn’t (and there are many). According to FastCompany, Walmart is not only talking a good game, it is delivering:
Walmart, that bastion of cheap food, clothing, and everything in between, has corporate-responsibility goals that put every other big box retailer to shame. When Walmart asks its 60,000 suppliers to shape up, the world listens; a demanding packaging goal will have companies the world over scrambling to fit the requirements (for both Walmart and the inevitable copycat retailers that jack up their requirements later). In Walmart’s 2011 Global Responsibility Report, we get a glimpse at just how far along the company is in meeting its ultra-ambitious goals. It’s making exceptional progress.
According to the article, Walmart is nearly on track to meet its goals of reducing global plastic shopping bag waste by an average of 33% per store by 2013, partner with suppliers to improve energy efficiency by 20% in the top 200 factories in China from which they directly source by 2012, and double sales of locally sourced produce, making up 9% of all produce sold by the end of 2015.
There will of course be those who believe nothing Walmart does is deserving of any praise, but I say bravo. It’s too late to be talking idealism when it comes to reversing climate change and the destruction of precious eco systems. We need all the help we can get.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.