We have written an awful lot about Wal-Mart since their sustainability summit last week. We've asked for readers' thoughts on the company's sustainability efforts, we've reported back on how the summit went, we've interviewed exhibitors and Wal-Mart suppliers alike, and we've asked senior Wal-Mart executives about their plans for selling solar and how they interact with the political sphere. Among the many comments we've received to these posts, both positive and negative, the subject of plastic bags cropped up frequently. It seems that Wal-Mart's massive use of disposable plastic carrier bags riles our readers no end. Now, it seems, the company is making at least some effort to reduce its contribution to this problem, with the introduction of a new, reusable carrier bag made from 85% recycled materials, including old water bottles.
Emblazoned with the logo "Paper or Plastic? Neither." the bags will be appearing in West Coast stores in the next few days and will then be rolled out across the country. They will be on sale to the public at the price of $1, and Wal-Mart will apparently be taking them back for recycling when they reach the end of their useful life. We haven't heard anything about the company giving incentives for customers to reuse them, nor disincentives for the use of disposables, both of which would be further steps in the right direction. However, we are pleased to see yet another sign of the giant trying to reduce its footprint. Of course we should probably point out that however green Wal-Mart becomes, consumerism is likely to come with a significant environmental impact for some time to come. With this in mind, the fewer times a shopper fills up that bag in the first place, the greener they will be — but when the need does arise to shop, whether at Wal-Mart or elsewhere, we hope the public will use this new tote and use it well. ::Wal-Mart Live Better Sustainability Summit::via personal invite::
Disclaimer: Sami Grover is also Director of Sustainability at The Change, a company that was asked to exhibit at the event.