J500 Media and the Environment

Can the slogan “Save Money, Live Better” work for the environment? by lindsaycr
March 9, 2008, 1:32 pm
Filed under: Business + Politics | Tags: , ,

When we think about companies that are becoming more environmentally friendly, Wal-Mart may not be the first company to pop into many people’s minds. However, Wal-Mart is now near the top of the list. In Dallas, Wal-Mart has just recently built an experimental store that is completely environmentally friendly.

Source: http://news.mongabay.com/2005/0726-walmart.html

According to the mongabay Web site, the new store has a wind turbine in the parking lot, no flush urinals in the men’s rooms, and has incorporated other creative ways for saving heat, electricity, and water at the store. Wal-Mart admits that some of their ideas will ultimately fail, but it is important that they are making the effort in the first place.

Source: http://news.mongabay.com/2005/0726-walmart.html

Wal-Mart makes a good point here. While it may be costly at first to make all of these environmental changes, what do they really have to lose? Not only will they be saving money in the end by becoming more efficient, but they will also gain the respect of their customers. While some Wal-Mart customers may not be sold on climate change, who wouldn’t want a company to be more resourceful. Also, with these new initiatives, Wal-Mart may garner more customers. They might take business away from competitors like Target, who have not made these essential changes yet.

However, despite all of Wal-Mart’s efforts, many are still skeptical. As many people know, Wal-Mart has a history of not being the best company to work for. Not only have they been accused of treating their employees badly (either by not paying them adequately or refusing health care), but they also sell a large supply of products from China instead of American made products.

However, others recognize that with the magnitude of its size and success, many other companies will follow in Wal-Mart’s footsteps. According to an article written for washingtonpost.com last September, Charles Fishman, author of “The Wal-Mart Effect,” is one of those people. “Wal-Mart is so large that when Wal-Mart changes how it does business, most businesses have to come along.”

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/06/AR2007090602689.html

And so, whether Wal-Mart is turning green for the environment or for other selfish reasons is not important. What is important is that other corporations follow Wal-Mart’s lead and change their businesses to become environmentally friendly as well. I feel that when corporations from all over the globe step up to Wal-Mart’s example, everyone will benefit in the end.



5 Comments so far
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Let’s say Walmart goes completely green: using 100% renewable energy, offering all organics and eco-smart products, etc. The big box style of the store will still turn me off.

I like to go to go to local stores because they offer personal help and have answers. I go to the Merc because they can tell me where their meat came from and whether or not it was finished with grain or grass. I know Wheatfields gets their wheat from western Kansas. Local Burger will tell me where every product in their food comes from and more. These are unique Lawrence-specific cases and that’s the whole idea.

No matter how green, going to Walmart would never feel like this. It would still look like they were using an enormous cookie-cutter to build their stores. I would still feel like a number.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they are doing what they are doing and raising awareness of environmental issues at the same time. Hopefully it has a large effect on other companies as well.

Bobby Grace

Comment by bobbygrace

The multiplier effect can’t be underestimated and Bobby, you are spot on. The burgeoning sustainability movement takes us beyond the bottom line to think about the wealth of and in our communities. Supporting local economies – that is, keeping money in our community instead of sending most of it to, say, Bentonville – and independent businesses is really important.
Here is an interesting assessment of the impacts of Wal-Mart on community development.

Comment by j500

You can also check out a lot of these green initiatives. The first high-efficiency Wal-Mart was built in Kansas City.


Comment by j500

Those of you who are not new to Lawrence may also remember that our Wal-Mart once had green features and was designed by William McDonough + Partners as a “prototype for sustainability”. How many of the Wal-Mart’s currently being built follow this model? One of my greatest regrets in life was not taking a picture as they placed bricks over the green stripe on our Wal-Mart – completely wasting the design elements that would have allowed the building to be converted to other uses at the end of its life.

Comment by jseverin

After reading your post, I am really excited to try the Merc. I have been an avid Wal-Mart shopper all of my life, but it would be refreshing to get help for a change and to know exactly where my food is coming from. Anyways, there are always going to be people who love shopping at Wal-Mart (like me) and people who hate shopping at Wal-Mart (like you). In the end, if Wal-Mart makes these changes permanent, everyone will win.


Comment by genghiskuhn

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