While we're well aware that Wal-Mart isn't perfect, we think they should be recognized for the good, green things they're incorporating into their business practices. TreeHugger buddy and fellow green blogger (at Gristmill) Dave Roberts has an op-ed on TomPaine.com today with a similar point. While the whole thing is worth reading, his argument essentially boils down to this (posted in Gristmill):
If you don't believe us that Wal-Mart should be patted on the back and encouraged to continue, believe Dave. Read the TomPaine.com piece, and if you're still not convinced, read Dave's wrap-up of the story. ::TomPaine.com via ::Gristmill
So, for progressives to say, "sorry, you get no thanks from me until you green and improve labor standards" is to reject the good in favor of the perfect. Businesses exist to make money. We want to convince them that being green can help them make money. Defending the rights of workers has traditionally been the role of government; that's what progressives exist to fight for. I'm all for pressuring Wal-Mart to become more of an advocate for worker-friendly public policy -- their help in the fight for universal health care would be immeasurable -- but it just seems short-sighted to me to reject the positive steps they're making.