How Walmart Became a Catalyst for Change
Aron Cramer, CEO of Business for Social Responsibility, explains how Walmart has used its market power to become an agent of change and an industry leader in what he calls "sustainable excellence."
From 2011-2014, Daniel Honan was the Managing Editor at Big Think. Prior to Big Think, Daniel was Vice President of Production for Plum TV, a niche cable network he helped launch in 2002. The production team he oversaw won over two dozen Emmy awards. Daniel has created numerous shows and documentaries for television, and his film credits include Stealing the Fire, a documentary on the black market for nuclear weapons technology.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielHonan
What's the Big Idea?
As Aron Cramer, CEO of Business for Social Responsibility, explains, it wasn't so long ago that Walmart was the company every pro-environmental advocate loved to hate. (These opposing forces aren't exactly on a Honeymoon just yet. Walmart remains a powerful symbol for many of our wasteful culture of consumption by the nature of the products the company sells.) And yet, Walmart is also a key indicator of how much the political and economic calculus has changed over just the last decade or so, where businesses have found just how much the profit motive is aligned with the concerns of the Environmental movement. After all, waste is waste, and it no longer serves any company any good to be wasteful. The stakes are too high as the global economy transitions into a low-carbon economy.
What's the Significance?
Never before, Cramer argues, have the demands of business and humanity's responsibility to the environment been so closely aligned. N.B. Walmart has not, and does not claim that it is a green company. Indeed, to make such a claim would be a sure sign of so-called greenwashing. What Walmart does claim--and the company is demanding its many suppliers to follow suit--is that their business strategy is to dramatically reduce their overhead in terms of wasted energy costs. Turns out this is good for business, good for the environment, and Walmart has become a global leader in sustainable business practices. What a difference a decade makes!
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