Don't Buy Wal-Mart's Greenwashing

Tara Lohan: The retail giant wants to get on the popular eco-bandwagon, but Wal-Mart Watch won't let 'em.
Sensing the shift in eco-consciousness that has gone mainstream in the last year, Wal-Mart is working hard to re-brand itself as a "green" company.

But don't be fooled. It is going to take a lot more than changing their light-bulbs for anyone to take them seriously. The group Wal-Mart Watch has done some digging on Wal-Mart's enviro initiatives and found some interesting facts. Although the retail giant announced goals to cut CO2 by 2 million metric tons in six years, at their current growth rate, their new stores will use more energy than any of the energy saving measure they are going to employ.

Here's an overview from Wal-Mart Watch's report "It's Not Easy Being Green: The Truth About Wal-Mart's Environmental Makeover":
Its fleet of trucks, massive overseas shipping to import its goods, and the increasing vehicle miles traveled by its consumers all contribute heavily to CO 2 emissions and the number of ozone-causing particulates released into the air. Its huge stores and even larger parking lots contribute to the degradation of our water supply, affecting our drinking water and the viability of aquatic life. Its support of anti-environment candidates has helped forward the policies of the current Bush Administration, the same Administration rebuked by the Supreme Court and the former Vice President within the past few months for its handling of environmental policy.
Because the company is always expanding and adding newer, bigger stores, there are now about 300 vacant Wal-Marts at any given time across the US. The company is also facing fines and other penalties in dozens of states. The report states: "Lost in the sex discrimination and race discrimination class actions and the large number of wage and hour cases is the reality that Wal-Mart has been charged with a multitude of environmental violations over the course of the past ten years. Charges have come from both state and federal environmental officials costing Wal-Mart millions in penalties -- and costing the environment even more."

The report does give a small amount of credit to Wal-Mart's efforts thus far (like their controversial organics program), but ultimately concludes that what the company has done is really just glossing over more important environmental concerns and problems.

The reality is that big box retailing is never going to be sustainable.
Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.
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