Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Sustainability Index"

Walmart announced last week that they will be launching a new "sustainability index," or in other words a database designed to "put information about how environmentally friendly suppliers, manufacturers, and their products are."

The index will be implemented in three phases: the first is to survey all of Walmart's suppliers about how the supplier opperates, where their products are made, and how. The second step would be to actually develop the database, and the third and final step would be to launch the index and have consumers using it.

I know that Walmart represents a lot of different feelings for many different people and I personally have difficulty shopping and supporting the mega-retailer. However, you have to give them credit here. I am not sure what this database will look like, how much it will really represent sustainable products, or if Walmart shoppers will use the database, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Will the index be something that shoppers use and access at the stores, or is it something that shoppers will research before coming in? How will different products be represented in the index? Does that mean Walmart will be selling locally grown or locally made products? Will there be a type of rating system or regulation/policy for the products and suppliers, or how will Walmart address the issues of greenwashing?

There are definitely some hard questions that need to be answered before something like this could be as successful as I think Walmart hopes it to be. In the mean time, I hope someone on the index development team raises these points.

I originally heard of this issue on The Grist and you can read the entire article here.

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