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I’ve been adamant about not stepping foot inside the local Walmart store here in Yellowknife. You know all the reasons:

But the company is starting to challenge my ideas about them.

Back in 2006 they switched to LED lights for their refrigerators, and that was before I even used LED.

And today, Walmart Canada announced that their “home office” (presumably their headquarters in Mississauga) is a zero waste facility, with plans to adopt this across all their stores.

Even more impressive, I learned that as early as 2005 they have committed to three goals:

  • produce zero waste (clearly they’re moving forward on this)
  • be powered entirely by renewable energy (they just signed a contract with Bullfrog Energy to provide their energy for their home office, and stores in Ontario, Alberta and B.C.)
  • make more environmentally “preferable” (whatever that means) products available to consumers.

Much as I love to hate big box stores in general, and Walmart in particular, I have to admit:  These are powerful commitments, and if a monolith makes these kinds of changes, surely it will not only have a positive impact in its own right, but also motivate others to adopt similar policies.

Readers:  What do you think?  Should I start shopping at Walmart?  Are they Going Good?

Photo Credit:  Jason Mundy

About the Author


Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com

8 Comments

  1. I don’t know if they do good, but they’re certainly doing a good job at cutting costs.

    I read somewhere (in an article about supply chains, I think) that getting selected as a supplier by Walmart is a tough and expensive process, both short-term and long-term: They demand very low prices and that next year’s price is lower still. I.e. the supplier is expected to continually reduce their sales price, so they have to reduce costs, so they use cheaper parts and move their production facility from China (too expensive) to Vietnam (still cheap).

    Jan Karlsbjerg’s last blog post..Two pilots, two different approaches

    [Reply]

    Apr 07, 2009
  2. Don’t let yourself get seduced by the pretty wrapping, Nancy. If you’re beginning to doubt that Walmart’s practices remain unethical and exploitive of those most vulnerable in our society, take another look at the Walmart documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GINui9LdIQ.

    Walmart = High Cost for Low Cost.

    lori newton’s last blog post..Where’s my Kindle?

    [Reply]

    Apr 08, 2009
  3. brad

    The environmental consultant Joel Makower had a very interesting post on WalMart’s sustainability initiatives a couple of years back:

    http://makower.typepad.com/joel_makower/2007/10/wal-marts-susta.html

    A lot of people dismiss this sort of thing too quickly as greenwashing, but in the case of WalMart and many other companies they really are trying to improve their performance and come up with better solutions. It doesn’t mean they’re “good guys” now, but I believe attempts to improve should be applauded and encouraged instead of taking a black-and-white approach and treating big corporations as pure environmental villains, which is too much in the vein of George Bush’s “you’re either with us or against us” for my taste.

    One interesting twist on all this is that WalMart’s attempts to start offering organic food and recycled/recyclable products is apparently creating strains in the system due to the incredible demand that a big-box firm of Wal-Mart’s size can create.

    [Reply]

    Apr 08, 2009
  4. I must admit, I’m impressed by the steps they’re taking. I think you can feel a little less guilty shopping there now.

    Ferry Tales’s last blog post..A different kind of pride

    [Reply]

    Apr 08, 2009
  5. I don’t know, but I’d like to recommend Bullfrogpower – we’ve been customers since Jan. 2008.

    The energy they provide is always fresh, green and crunchy.

    No, but seriously, go BullfrogPower!!!

    ioana’s last blog post..Happy 4th Anniversary Love!

    [Reply]

    Apr 09, 2009
  6. That sounds a lot like Chapters, @Jan, and that alone would put me off of shopping there. @brad, agreed that positive behaviour should be acknowledged and applauded. The tricky part is deciding when it’s enough to actively support the place with my shopping dollar. I don’t think I’m quite ready to take that step yet.

    [Reply]

    Apr 09, 2009
  7. brad

    Yeah, I still don’t buy there either (never have, in fact). Nancy, your comment about Chapters intrigues me, can you elaborate? I used to get my books from Amazon.ca, but their service got flaky so I switched to Chapters. Ideally I’d buy from a local bookstore, but it takes me an hour to get to a good English-language bookstore from my home, so that’s two hours round-trip to find a book and 9 times out of 10 they don’t have what I want so they have to order it. Ordering online is the only practical solution for me if I want a book in English (there are good local bookstores for the books I buy in French!).

    [Reply]

    Apr 10, 2009
  8. No, you should continue to boycott WalMart for the reasons you originally adopted. A bit of “greenwash” does change their fundamental business model.

    They operate by importing huge quantities of cheap goods from China. Their commercial clout means they can squeeze suppliers’ margins on huge orders. But it uses vast amounts of energy to get that stuff to their stores. So cutting their electricity bill helps their bottom line a bit but makes an insignificant dent in their ghg production.

    But the most obnoxious effect they have is the destruction of real urban places. All over North America, Main Street has closed – and everyone now drives out to the big box by the freeway. Wal Mart doesn’t deliver because you do that for them. And you miss out on all the urbanity and humanity of casual contact in downtown. Humans are social animals and need physical proximity to each other to survive. WalMart cares nought for that. All it cares about are its huge profits.

    Stephen Rees’s last blog post..Campbell promises cheap transit passes to post-secondary students

    [Reply]

    Apr 16, 2009

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