Last week on Sea Change Radio, we spoke with Stacy Mitchell, a researcher and author who believes that Walmart’s sustainability efforts over the past five or six years have only disguised, not improved the tremendous detrimental effects caused by the world’s largest retailer. This week, we hear from a business and sustainability reporter who has a different perspective on Walmart’s green campaign. Marc Gunther thinks that while Walmart still has a long way to go to become a truly responsible corporation, the company’s work in this area represents important steps in the right direction. Gunther and host Alex Wise discuss the parallels of Walmart and Apple’s supply chain troubles including slave-like labor conditions in China, and look at the Walmart situation from both a management and consumer perspective. After hearing both Stacy Mitchell last week and Marc Gunther this week, Sea Change Radio invites you to draw your own conclusions about this retail giant.
Walmart. What does the name of the world’s largest retailer evoke for you? Do you think of its reputation as a poor employer and its anti-union tactics? Do you lump it in your mind with other large corporations who worship profit at the expense of environmental and social justice? Or perhaps you’re among those who respect Walmart’s more recent initiatives to improve its environmental impact, cut back on energy use, and reduce packaging. Today on Sea Change Radio, we begin a two-part series in which we speak with two writers for whom the name Walmart evokes very different things.
This week, host Alex Wise talks with author, researcher and advocate, Stacy Mitchell who recently published a 6-part series for Grist on Walmart’s sustainability efforts. Mitchell believes that the company’s purported efforts to improve its sustainability profile are mostly window dressing, a ploy to change the media narrative of Walmart’s poor track record without actually changing its overall negative global impact. Next week we will hear a contrasting opinion from reporter Marc Gunther who’s written extensively on Walmart, as well. Gunther is more impressed by the company’s sustainability efforts, believing that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good, and that when a giant like Walmart makes moves toward environmental responsibility it is worth taking notice. But first, our discussion with Stacy Mitchell.
[amazon-product align=”right”]1900322412[/amazon-product]While some view the negative impacts of economics and environment as separate, Herve Kempf sees financial inequality and environmental destruction as inextricably linked. The author of [amazon-product text=”How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth” type=”text”]1900322412[/amazon-product], Kempf explains how the wealthy of the world are living unsustainable lifestyles, and everyone else is trashing the earth too trying to keep up with the rich Joneses. The solution? Move away from materialism and growth.
CWR News Analysis — The Greening of Wal-Mart?:
—CSRwire: “Wal-Mart Celebrates Thanksgiving by Sourcing Local Food, Supporting Hunger-Relief, and Buying Wind Power”
—GreenBiz: “Wal-Mart’s New CEO: What Does it Mean for Green?”
—The Green Wave Marches On: Wal-Mart in China
—Grist: “Wal-Mart Comes to the Farmers Market”
—Press Release: “Walmart Gives Consumers Opportunity To Support Local Economies Through Locally Grown Program”
—Cornucopia Institute: Wal-Mart Organics: Market Expansion or Market Delusion?
—Press Release: “Wal-Mart Makes Major Commitment to Renewable Wind Power”
—Wal-Mart Carbon Disclosure Project Response, 2007
—Lee Scott Message in Wal-Mart Sustainability Progress report, 2007
Bloomberg Columnist Jonathan Weil, the first journalist to expose Enron’s cooked books in 2001, recently criticized President-Elect Barack Obama’s appointments to the Transition Economic Advisory Board, pointing out that almost half hail from companies that fried their financial statements or fueled the market meltdown — or both. CWR Co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon chat with Weil about his critique.
In 2006, Corporate Watchdog Radio will focus on corporate social and environmental responsibility as it plays out in the investment marketplace. We begin the year with a wideranging review of how that theme played out in 2005. CWR reviews the mainstreaming of the socially responsible investment movement, with developments at the United Nations, Goldman Sachs, DuPont, Walmart, SRI backlash movement, body burdens of toxic chemicals, toxics in products at DuPont and other companies, climate risk, corporate governance, state pension funds and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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