Consumers have made it clear in recent years that they care about their carbon footprint. Green, organic companies are on the rise and consumption of their products has increased dramatically. It’s not just small companies contributing to this zeitgeist. Bigger corporations have seen the light and are adjusting their business models to be more energy efficient, sustainable and produce less waste. This year, for example, Walmart released its fifth annual Global Responsibility report, which showcased the notable ways in which this retail giant has tackled three sustainability goals in recent years. It’s easy to overlook such efforts as mere greenwashing, marketing tactics meant to convince consumers of an environmental ethic that may be superficial. Let’s take a look at what Walmart has committed to and you be the judge:
Waste reduction—Walmart has reduced it’s U.S. Waste production by 80 percent through a Zero Waste Program that effectively implemented recycling, donating, and repurposing and took 11.8 million tons of CO2 out of the world. This includes the adoption of junk removal programs that take on e-waste recycling.
Local Produce—Walmart upped its local produce sales by 97 percent. It plans to double it’s overall local produce sales by 2015.
Support for women—Through its Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, Walmart is seeking to stand up for women across the world by: investing $20 billion in women-owned businesses; expanding retail training to 400,000 women and 60,000 women factory workers; and producing $100 million in grants to women empowerment programs.
Renewable energy—As of 2010 Walmart was generating 22 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and had launched 180 renewable energy projects, include over 100 solar and wind farms.
Sustainability—By partnering with suppliers, teachers, non-profits and other sustainable retailers in The Sustainability Consortium, Walmart has sought to revamp its products to be sustainable.
Direct-Farm Program—Walmart has set out to strengthen farming communities in China, Central America, India and other countries in order to create a more equitable farming exchange through direct farming.
This isn’t the extent of Walmart’s changes. Additionally, the retail giant has set out to save customers $1 billion on healthier food options and fresh fruits and vegetables. Walmart has also bolstered its relief funds to victims of natural disasters and has stepped up its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. But its major changes remain environmentally focused, and the retailer’s considerable efforts to reduce waste, become sustainable, use renewable energy, and support local farms should not go unnoticed.