Jul 17, 2009

How Big is Your Environmental Footprint?

With the announcement yesterday that Walmart will be working on a sustainability index in order to label all its products with a green rating is certainly intriguing. I love the idea of being able to pick up any product and see how much energy was put into producing it or how much waste was generated. I have never been a big fan of Walmart due to some human rights issues (violating the right to freedom of association) and other practices, but having Walmart "Go Green" might change my mind about the retail giant.
It seems that they are still in the idea formulation stage of this process from the information that has been released. It appears they will have a survey of questions for their retailers and no clear index system created yet. What I hope will come out of this process is not just the executives of the companies putting in trash numbers to make their product look green, but actually have some oversight in the system to verify the true environmental impact. It might be a good place for some environmental watchdog groups to focus their collective energy.
This could prove to be a revolutionary step in the retail world and manufacturing. I would be willing to bet it would cause a few manufacturing company's to re-evaluate their materials acquisition and packaging to reduce waste, reduce energy, and increase sustainability. I would love to walk into a store and see products packaged in recycled cardboard with recycled paper tags, only using recycled plastic. Better yet, why don't we go back to little to no packaging at all...just a tag with the product name, price and UPC. What I would love even more would be one of these giant nationwide stores to get rid of the plastic bags! Insist that customers bring reusable shopping bags or offer them boxes the canned goods, etc have come in (think warehouse club style.) The reusable shopping bags are far superior in strength and volume anyway. I can fit a normal grocery run, for a family of four, with a weeks worth of groceries into 4-5 reusable bags (bags cost around $1) where if plastic were used it would be packed in at least double the amount of bags.

So here are my questions to you:
  1. Would you choose to shop at a store that offered a "Green Index" (Walmart or other) over one that did not?
  2. Would you pay more for items that had a lower environmental impact due to increased costs for reclaiming or recycling products used in production? (Example - reclaiming metal from alkaline batteries which is cost prohibitive now, but a major contaminator of the environment.)

Any other comments, as always, are welcome :)

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