Wal-Mart, Inc. launched its big sustainability initiative in 2005, though it has been debatable whether the company has really stepped in the right direction. Believing that a profitable business and being a good steward of the environment could go hand-in-hand, Wal-Mart set out to achieve the following goals:
1. To be supplied 100% by renewable energy;
2. To create zero waste; and
3. To sell products that sustain our resources and the environment.
Wal-Mart is actually the number one retailer of jewelry in the United States. In 2010, the National Jeweler roughly estimated Wal-Mart had $2,800,000,000 (2.8 billion) in jewelry sales. Since they announced their big sustainability initiative in 2005, the conglomerate company has been trying to move forward with sustainable-based products.
The jewelry line Love, Earth was introduced into Wal-Mart stores in 2008. The launch of this eco-friendly line marked the first time a mass-market jeweler has been able to track its precious metals through the supply chain.
Wal-Mart’s states that their commitment to sustainability is being applied to selling jewelry through recognizing the potential environmental and community impacts of activities involved within jewelry production (mining, refining, polishing, and cutting and manufacturing). Love, Earth is working towards several initiatives which are helping to reduce the amount of waste generated by an increasing the amount of recyclable materials in jewelry packaging, optimizing its logistical arrangements in the transport of products to Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Clubs, and launching a pilot project ensuring a transparent supply chain with mines of known origin.
Sustainable business analyst Marc Gunther is one of the leading writers covering Wal-Mart’s sustainable efforts. Most have been laudatory, but in his December 2001 article Have I Fallen in Love with Walmart? he talks about coming across a six-part series for the Grist by Stacy Mitchell called Walmart’s Greenwash: Why the Retail Giant is Still Unsustainable? By the end of Gunther’s article, his positive thoughts on Wal-Mart’s sustainable efforts are shaken and evokes the question:
Is Wal-Mart truly sustainably proactive? and Can it promote sustainability and consumption?
Marc Gunther, who has written commending articles, like the 2006 FORTUNE cover story headlining: Wal-Mart Save the Planet and the article Green Gold, finds himself possibly a victim of confirmation bias -which describes the way all of us seek out, sift through and read evidence in ways that confirm our preconceptions.
If you are interested in learning more about Wal-Mart and sustainability, be sure to click all the links I have embedded in this post.