Doing Good, Doing Well
In 2005 Wal-Mart found itself suffering from image issues and enough negative press to turn away some shoppers and a sufficient number of investors to cause its stock prices to fall 20 percent. The fix? Go green.
First came the push for CFLs – over 100 million of them sold in 2007. Next, in its effort to reduce packaging, Wal-Mart committed to selling only concentrated liquid laundry detergent, saving “more than 400 million gallons of water, 95 million pounds of plastic resin, 125 million pounds of cardboard and 520,000 gallons of diesel fuel over three years,” according to an article in the New York Times. Profits increased and the headlines improved. As Ray Anderson says, Wal-Mart has done well by doing good. It was one of only two companies in the Dow Jones industrial average whose share price rose last year – the other was McDonald’s.
Photo: Wal-Mart as published in the New York Times
Best of all, Wal-Mart’s suppliers are following suit. To stay on the behemoth retailer’s good side, light bulb manufacturers and detergent producers are scrambling to make greener products.
The company isn’t perfect and continues to suffer criticism for its labor and healthcare practices. But it’s changing the way its roughly 200 million annual customers buy and use products. Few other companies can claim that kind of clout. Becoming an innovative leader can happen at any level. Up and down Wal-Mart’s supply chain, product producers are greening themselves, which according to many experts will provide a cushion in today’s economic downturn.
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