Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Greening of Wal-Mart

This month's issue of Fast Company profiles the world's fifty most innovative companies. Wal-Mart comes in at #9, largely due to its green initiatives. I'm sure many folks questioned Wal-Mart's intentions when it began its major sustainability initiatives in the fall of 2005. However, as we have learned, many efforts to become more green actually have fit nicely with Wal-Mart's low cost strategy. Why? A number of green initiatives at Wal-Mart actually reduce costs because they eliminate waste. Let's take plastic shopping bags. According to Fast Company, Wal-Mart used 2.5 billion fewer plastic bags in the first twelve months of its push toward the use of reusable shopping bags. Well, let's think about how much that is worth. According to this article from National Geographic, a plastic shopping bag costs about one penny. Therefore, some simple math tells us that Wal-Mart saved $25 million in just one year thanks to its efforts to shift consumers away from disposable plastic and toward reusable shopping bags. Talk about a win-win... Wal-Mart helps the environment and saves a big chunk of cash. One could imagine that other green efforts at the firm, such as initiatives to reduce energy and fuel consumption, have also yielded win-win results.

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