Friday, September 24, 2010

Shop Walmart, save the planet

Sam Walton, "green"
Nope, I don't assume responsibility for saving the planet, and I am endlessly amused by those who want to "green everything," particularly politicians who promise "green" jobs (does that mean mowing lawns?) and corporations who proclaim they're "green" (like hotels that leave little signs saying that if you agree to having dirty towels and sheets you'll all be green -- maybe you actually will be).

So it was a pleasure to run across this piece by Walter Russell Mead, who writes convincingly that it's the companies like Walmart that actually are making things "green."
Walmart and its Big Box friends are making the world a greener, more sustainable place.  This isn’t because of any PR stunts or corporate green initiatives they may have going; it’s because they are relentlessly focused on profit and efficiency.  It is their cutthroat capitalism not their sense of corporate citizenship that will save us — if anything can.
Anybody in the world who produces anything wants to sell to Walmart, but there's a catch. 
Walmart wants to sell cheap to its customers; that means it must buy cheap from producers. That means you, and everyone else trying to sell to Walmart, have to spend all your time figuring out how to produce the same product with less. Walmart’s ruthless focus on reducing prices is driving producers everywhere to cut the costs of production: to switch to cheaper materials, use less packaging, cut down on waste of all kinds and to consolidate and rationalize both production and distribution.   The result is a steady and inexorable decline in humanity’s impact on the environment for every unit of GDP.
"The Green Police couldn’t do it any better," Mead writes. "In fact, given the political cluelessness, uncertain signals (is nuclear energy a good thing or a bad thing?), and anti-scientific knuckle dragging from environmentalists on subjects like the use of GMOs in agriculture, it’s likely that a world run by Walmart would be both richer and cleaner than a world run by Greenpeace."

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