There have been a lot of start-ups in the past decade who have hoped to measure the ecological footprint of the things we buy. They want to measure how much carbon-dioxide is produced, how many hazardous chemicals are created, how far products traveled, and how much water they use.
I've always been a big fan of these ideas, but they also always seemed rather uninspired and far too limited. It seemed to me that there was no way to get all of this information about all of these products. And if there was, there would be no way to keep it updated and no way to keep companies from hiding things or downright lying.
Or, at least, that's what I thought. There is one organization that can control manufacturers more than any government could ever hope to. One organization that every seller in the world will say "Yes sir, we'll get that for you right away sir." And that organization is Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart is now on a mission to determine the social and environmental impact of everything they sell (which is a lot of things.) They've hired an army of people to help them do it, including several environmental groups. And, thus, they will create that universal footprint rating that well-meaning enviros have been trying (and failing) to create for decades. Or, at least, I hope they will.
Wal-Mart says they want to have the rating system finish and fully adopted in five years, by which point they also want other retailers to be using it.
A spokesperson at the Environmental Defense Fund said, "No one else could pull this off." I agree, and there you have it. A bunch of hippy enviros loving on Wal-Mart because they're the only ones with the power to do what needs to be done. What is the world coming to?
Read More at the New York Times
written by Fred, July 17, 2009
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