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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Is that Wal-Mart leading the convergence of business and environmental responsibility?

Love or hate Wal-Mart (does anyone really "love" Wal-Mart??), you have to admit they are making a serious effort to push environmentally responsible products upon their cost conscious consumers. The NYTimes had a recent article about Wal-Mart's ambitious goal of selling 100 million compact fluorescent light bulbs by 2008.

Of course, anytime we see a hundred billion dollar company introduce products that disrupt the corporate establishment you have the potential for another electric car debacle (Thanks GM!). However, Wal-Mart has never been shy about sticking it to their suppliers, their buying power affords them that privilege. The buying power of Wal-Mart allows them to force change upon the masses, as demonstrated by Wal-Mart forcing it's suppliers to waste less packaging materials and adopt more energy efficient practices.

Wal-Mart has an opportunity to initiate positive change at a magnitude second only to that of the federal government. One big difference - Wal-Mart has to answer to its shareholders, whereas politicians that would have to push these mandates through the legislature are funded by the same corporations that have something to lose if new energy laws are passed.

With all of the controversy surrounding Wal-Mart's employment practices, all of the advocacy groups formed to take on Wal-Mart's failure to pay higher wages and the spread of urban sprawl, its probably good news for Wal-Mart shareholders that their CEO, Lee Scott, has done more than pay lip service to the environmental initiaves that are mentioned in this Fortune article and Wal-Mart's and every other Fortune 500 corporation's website.

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