Wal-Mart knows sustainability makes both good business sense and good public relations sense, but it’s also responding to customer interest in sustainable products.
The Green Confidence Index, a monthly survey of 2,500 adults across the United States, found that half of all respondents bought a green product this year, and three out of five who have never intentionally purchased a green product intend to next year. About 25 percent are planning to buy a green big-ticket item in the near future.
Because of consumer interest, more retailers and organizations are measuring the sustainability of products. Here is a sampling:
Nike’s Considered Design line calculates solvent use, waste, materials use and treatment in its footwear and apparel.
Timberland’s Green Index scores its products according to greenhouse gas emissions, chemicals used and resource consumption.
Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles allows users to track a product’s life cycle and calculate energy consumption, distance traveled, CO2 emissions and waste generated.
The Eco Working Group, a consortium of over 100 outdoor businesses, is developing an industry wide Eco Index for products and companies with environmental guidelines, environmental performance metrics and a comparative scoring system.
GoodGuide measures the health, environmental and social impacts of food, personal care products, household chemicals and toys, and their companies.
The Climate Counts Scorecard examines what
companies are doing about their environmental impacts and how they compare to others in the same sector.
Wal-Mart and the Sustainability Council are hoping that more retailers and businesses will ultimately sign on to the Sustainability Index. For it to really work, it needs to be accepted as a supplier standard around the world.
Given Wal-Mart’s influence, it just may be.
Hunter Lovins, president and founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions, which helps businesses and governments become more sustainable, has consulted with Wal-Mart and said, “Wal-Mart is doing more, I would submit, to move the needle than any of us.”