Wal-Mart and the Business Case for Green

Walmart’s effort to green its stores, trucking fleet, products, and supply chain, alternately dismissed from the left as window dressing and from the right as a costly distraction, has accomplished something that 40 years of environmental activism and regulation never managed: It moved sustainability from the fringe to the forefront of business concerns.... Read my full article at Grist.org

The point of my piece is not to serve as a counterpoint to the recent series of stories at Grist by Stacy Mitchell -- who found the specifics of Wal-Mart sustainability projects wanting, to say the least -- but to point out that the real value of having such a mega-company trying to become greener, however imperfect those efforts may be, is that it drags the rest of the big business world along with it. Wal-Mart has used the same clout with which it has driven prices down and crushed competitors to do something shockingly different: mainstream sustainability. I have no interest in either lionizing or lambasting Wal-Mart on this score; it's simply a fact, and one that utterly destroys the arguments of the drill-baby-drill crowd by showing that sustainable and planet-friendly choices help America compete and prosper.