Since launching its sustainability program in 2005, Walmart has tried to position itself as a leader on corporate environmental responsibility. In frequent press announcements and annual “Global Responsibility” reports, Walmart touts its activities on renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, waste reduction, and product improvements.
While Walmart’s sustainability campaign has done wonders for its public image, it has done little for the environment. In fact, Walmart’s environmental impact has only grown over the last seven years. Its business practices remain highly polluting, while its relentless expansion and consolidation of the market have come at the expense of more sustainable enterprises and systems of production and distribution. Here are 10 ways Walmart is failing on sustainability:
1. Selling Shoddy Products
By demanding ever-lower prices from its suppliers, Walmart drives down the quality and durability of consumer goods. Clothing, appliances, electronics, and other products now wear out faster than ever before. This has sped up the flow of goods from factory to landfill, vastly expanding the amount of stuff Americans buy and discard.
Take clothing, for example. In the mid-1990s, the average American bought 28 items of clothing a year. Today, we buy 59 items. We also throw away an average of 83 pounds of textiles per person, mostly discarded apparel, each year.
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