Greenwashing: Is Wal-Mart as Green as it Claims? $WMT

Wal-Mart is a big box retailer that promises "extra low prices" for its goods andservices.  In addition, it is also one of those companies that purportsto be green.  However, is Wal-Mart simply riding the wave of green andin reality is a greenwasher?  The perception certainly exists of Wal-Mart as a green company especially with itspartnership with "the Carbon Disclosure Project to measure the amount of energy used (and) will initiate a pilot with a group of suppliers tolook for new and innovative ways to make the entire process more energyefficient." Consequently, the image Wal-Mart wants to project isone of a socially responsible company who is concerned with its overallenvironmental impact.

However, sometimes such claims about "we are making our supply chain orworking with "green suppliers" may be too good to be true and henceWal-Mart might be practicing greenwashing. After all, there is nomechanism in place by the government or anyone else to monitor for thisactivity. The temptation is there given the broader societal desire that a company be socially responsible by caring for things like theenvironment. As a big-box retailer, individuals shop there for all thebargains it professes to have. How individuals shop is that they must drive in their cars and that contributes a lotof carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to the tune of "40 million metrictons all while we’re running errands." The sheer size of the parking lot certainly means Wal-Mart at least encourages individuals and families to drive and shop there.

Consequently, Wal-Mart can be green all that it wants with its suppliers and all, but the question is why does it have to have large parkinglots as evidenced by its big box retailer status?  The large parkinglots do not discourage individuals from driving at all.  Thus, theparking lot is related to Wal-Mart in the sense that it encourages moreand more customers to come shop, but not to be environmentally conscious as it professes to be with its suppliers.  If Wal-Mart does not want to be considered a greenwasher, then it should also make a commitment tocutting down on its parking lot size and to be socially responsible byencouraging the surrounding community it is part of to go "green" in all that it does.

While it is laudable that Wal-Mart wants to sell green products andwants its suppliers to go green, it apparently has no problem with large parking lots and emissions from cars and trucks.  Consequently, it canbe argued that Wal-Mart simply cares about profit and the promise thatgreen has in terms of making a buck but not much else.  So, Wal-Mart can be considered a greenwasher rather than a green company.



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