The GOOD 100: Wal-Mart's Sustainability Push

The Big Blue-green Monster: Wal-Mart is pushing us toward sustainability more than you could ever imagine. In 2005, Wal-Mart...

The Big Blue-green Monster: Wal-Mart is pushing us toward sustainability more than you could ever imagine.

In 2005, Wal-Mart was a piñata that liberal critics loved to bash, owing to a litany of sins ranging from low wages to union busting to encouraging sprawl. So when Lee Scott, the CEO at the time, bounded onto the stage at Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, and announced that energy-efficiency would be "at the heart of the company," it seemed like another flaky corporate stunt designed to cool a public backlash. Five years later, it looks different: In Wal-Mart's own hyper-efficient, bulldozing fashion, it has become arguably the greatest force for green in corporate America."Wal-Mart can create a market by itself," says Kory Lundberg,who works on Wal-Mart's sustainability efforts. She's not exaggerating: With more than $400 billion in revenues, Wal-Mart accounts for more than 11 percent of U.S. retail sales (and the number's growing); the $200 billion it spent on merchandise in 2007 supported 3 million jobs. The company employs another 2.2 million people directly. When Wal-Mart talks, 60,000 suppliers listen.The company has given itself three environmental mandates: to use only renewable energy, to produce zero waste, and to sell sustainable products. Progress on these has been stunningly fast: Wal-Mart is now the largest private producer of solar power in the United States, with nearly 40 stores fitted with photovoltaic arrays, and it's working on a prototype store that will cut energy use by 25 to 30 percent; between 2005 and 2008, it increased its trucking efficiency by 38 percent, with plans to have it doubled by 2015; it's working toward making all of its appliances Energy Star-rated; yearly, it spends $500 million on energy-efficient technology; and it's now developing a scorecard to rate the sustainability of its suppliers.There are, of course, reasons to be skeptical, but they're not the reasons you'd suspect. Though its broader goals are still far off, Wal-Mart's commitment to energy-efficiency seems durable. The savings generated by going green make unimpeachable sense to its business, which has always been fanatical about cutting costs.But as Wal-Mart grows, can such a huge, networked operation that spans the globe ever be truly green? "The intriguing part is to see whether they'll stop with low-hanging fruit like local energy costs, or dig deeper into their supply chain," says Eric Fernald, the director of research at KLD, a firm that vets socially responsible investments. "Will their bigness cap how green they become?" That's a question not only for Wal-Mart, but for our entire economy. Its success is a test case for our own.Corrected: This article originally misattributed the quote in the second paragraph to an Edelman representative named Tristan Roy.

AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less