Stop, collaborate and listen. Well, read anyway. This article that just appeared online this morning on Business Week’s site on Jeffrey Hollender’s refusal to do business with Wal-Mart and then changing his mind has some hard lessons for green companies, the clearest one of which is that Wal-Mart has changed enough in their business practices to win over even the greenest of green companies, Seventh Generation.
This change in attitude is one that has mirrored my own in the past year. When I shop at Wal-Mart, I can buy organic food and dairy products for the same price as their conventional counterparts at another grocery store, or only just a little bit more. This leaves more money at the end of the grocery buy for stuff like fruits and vegetables, which helps me to skip the refined treats in boxes and improve my health. Once Wal-Mart can lock down a deal for organic meats (they’ve already got organic and wild-caught fish, most notably salmon) I’m 100% sold on them.
More importantly, Wal-Mart does not place organic foods in their own special section, making them easy to ignore. They place them right next to their non-organic counterparts, which normalizes the organic choice for more mainstream shoppers and gets these products into all homes, not just the ones that are looking for them. And that is a huge step up.
Add to that their green practices, their requirements for their suppliers to package their items sustainably and offer green products, and you have a former icon of corporate irresponsibility turned right around into the ideal store for the green shopper. Sure, they still have problems, but they aren’t different problems than any other major chain of stores, and they realize that fixing their way of doing business is the only way to win over resistant small communities and shoppers alike.