Wal-Mart's Sustainability Initiative: A Civil Society Critique

Publication Date: 

September 6, 2007


Big Box Collaborative, Institute for Policy Studies, and others

This report was coordinated by the Big Box Collaborative, which brings together representatives from labor, environmental and public health groups, consumer advocates, shareholder activists, international trade and labor rights groups, faith-based organizations, communities, and others from around the world in a collaborative approach to transforming the Big Box Retail Industry and, in particular, Wal-Mart.

Nearly two years ago, Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott announced a bold initiative to turn the world’s largest company green. A long-anticipated first progress report on these sustainability goals is expected to be released soon. In advance of the company’s report, 23 environmental, farm, labor, and other civil society groups have offered their own critiques of Wal-Mart’s approach to sustainability.

Some of these critiques focus on specific Wal-Mart commitments and offer recommendations for change. Others argue that even if Wal-Mart achieved all of its stated goals, the company’s business model makes it inherently unsustainable. All of them remind us of what’s at stake by demonstrating Wal-Mart’s huge and often devastating impacts on real people and places in the United States and around the world.