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If there's a giant retailer out there that's working harder than Wal-Mart to build it's green cred, I certainly haven't heard of it. With its much-touted Sustainability Index, Wal-Mart has created more ambivalence in the green community than even T. Boone Pickens or nuclear power could muster. We remarked not so long ago that it's getting harder to hate Wal-Mart -- and that may be even more true now that it has brokered a partnership with Seventh Generation, the esteemed nontoxic, enviro-friendly household product maker. This is clearly a move to raise Wal-Mart's profile -- but what's in it for Seventh Generation?That is, besides a ginormous market share, the likes of which even the relatively ubiquitous Seventh Generation had never seen before. But remember, Seventh Generation used to flat out refuse to sell its products at Wal-Mart, because the retailer's practices were so unsustainable and worker-unfriendly. Here's Marketwire with more on the news:
As part of the long-term strategic partnership, Walmart will carry a variety of cleaning products from Seventh Generation's portfolio, including the brand's best-sellers, such as laundry detergent, dish soap, disinfecting wipes and all purpose sprays. An expanded assortment of products, including baby diapers and wipes, will roll out on Walmart.com in September.Seventh Generation goods will be available in 1,500 stores nationwide, and on Walmart.com. And both companies' CEOs have released the perfunctory statements explaining how great this partnership will be for both parties. First, here's Chuck Maniscalco, Seventh Generation's CEO:
"Seventh Generation and Walmart are committed to helping people learn about natural alternatives and ways to protect themselves and their families. Through increased access to safe, healthy, affordable, and sustainable products, Seventh Generation and Walmart have together embarked on a long-term, strategic partnership to grow this movement by demonstrating a shared commitment to education and making meaningful change."And, of course, here's the big boy:
"As part of Walmart's broad sustainability goal to sell products that sustain people and the environment, we are always looking to expand our number of sustainable offerings," said Al Dominguez, Walmart's vice president of chemical and paper goods. "Seventh Generation is a leader in offering natural and healthy products to families and we are excited about using our scale to make these offerings available to even more customers through our stores and on Walmart.com."Hooray, everyone wins! Well, not quite -- things aren't so clear cut of course. Bringing safer, greener products to a larger swath of consumers would seem to be a slam dunk, and certainly has merit. But by bowing to Wal-Mart, is a truly sustainable-minded company sacrificing a vision of quality, and some of its integrity? Is lending a modicum of green cred to a major engine of consumerism like Wal-Mart merely helping to prop up the still-unsustainable model that the retailer traffics in? These are good questions, and ones we'll be looking at more closely as the nature of the partnership becomes clearer.
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