March 23, 2015
Twenty-five years ago this month, my book The Green Consumer hit U.S. bookstores. It promised that “Every time you open your wallet, you cast a vote, for or against the environment.”
That was then. Over the intervening quarter century, I became pretty cynical about the willingness of the shopping public to support the environment with their “votes.” At various times, I’ve opined that shoppers were “dazed and confused,” selfish and irrationally exuberant — or, perhaps worst of all, greenwashers.
I’ve even declared that green marketing was “over.”
So, it’s of some significance that I find myself excited about an effort to upend all that. From Walmart, no less.
Last month, the retail giant announced a new program that identified products from companies deemed “sustainability leaders.” It introduced a new section of its website featuring select products from companies that met Walmart’s criteria to wear a sustainability badge.
It’s a nascent program that’s been long in coming — since 2009, when the retailer introduced its Sustainability Index to the world. In the half-dozen years since, the Index has been the subject of speculation about how, and when, it might appear in the marketplace.