I heard Adam Werbach, the onetime boy wonder of the Sierra Club, on Forum this morning, talking about how wonderful it is that Wal-Mart is starting to use special trucks that rely on batteries when they idle to save diesel fuel.
And I have to say: He made me want to puke. I wanted to jump into the radio and slap some sense into him and say:
Adam, Adam: Wal-Mart is the very definition of an unsustainable business. This is company that imports cheap shit made with near-slave labor in countries where there are no laws against putting 12-year-olds in factories, ships it to a few distribution points in the U.S. and then trucks it all over to shopping malls with giant parking lots where everyone drives. Wal-Mart cuts costs so aggressively that its employees go on public assistance, and in the process drives locally owned, independent businesses into bankruptcy.
Wal-Mart represents a fundamentally flawed economic model that is as much to blame for the problems in the American economy as the subprime mortgage meltdown. Money is sucked out of communities to profit one of the richest families in the world as main-street businesses, which might actually serve pedestrians and shoppers who take transit, businesses that keep money in the community and create and preserve decent jobs and wealth for middle-class people, are killed off.
I know Werbach thinks that moving the world’s largest retailer toward better practices is worth the effort.
But you can’t make Wal-Mart anything but an environmental train wreck and an economic disaster, and to even try gives credibility to a truly awful corporation with a horrible business model.
But I guess that’s what happens when you sell your sustainability consulting company to an ad agency.