A new book, published this month, reveals Walmart’s struggle to redefine what it means to be green in the world of big business.
“Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story off Wal-Mart’s Green Revolution” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Edward Humes, recounts the collaboration between Walmart’s former CEO H. Lee Scott, and later Mike Duke, Scott’s successor as CEO, and white water expert-turned Blu Skye sustainability consultant Jib Ellison.
Humes, author of Eco Barons, tells of a small project initially intended to insulate Walmart from environmental criticism into a massive sustainability makeover, which now has snowballed beyond the retailer to influence whole industries, from apparel to dairy to banking, according to Amazon.com.
Ellison instituted a project at Walmart called “The Index” that challenged suppliers to root out inefficiency and waste, which the book details. Packaging shrank, saving millions of gallons of water, millions of pounds of cardboard, not to mention diesel fuel. Walmart’s sheer size, coupled with its lowest-pricing mission, means that producers are forced to take steps toward sustainability — and make natural, organic, and earth-friendly products widely available, according to Publisher’s Weekly.
Walmart’s switch to common household products in smaller packaging saved cardboard and the diesel fuel necessary to transport larger boxes.
Other changes including switching from non-recyclable boxes for frozen food to recyclable packaging that then could be sold as a commodity to recyclers.
The collaboration with Ellison engendered far-reaching changes as executives at the world’s largest retail company realized that a clean, green, efficient, less-wasteful, less polluting way of doing business can also be the most profitable way of doing business. (Source: GreenRetail Decisions)