UPDATE 7/15/09 2:53pm -- Sam Eaton previews Wal-Mart's announcement on Marketplace today.
Anyone who has followed the Greenwash Brigade knows that my personal eco-dream is a single Sustainability Index that is easy for all consumers to understand, and that applies to everything from Acme Iron Bird Seed to a Trident Missile.
I think it would enable consumers who care - but who don't care enough to research products on the Skin Deep Database before heading to the mall - to make better decisions on every purchase. And that they would, if it were valid and clearly placed on every product.
My job is to write about greenwash, but until the index (and the messy, messy details underlaying it) are public, it's impossible to say whether it is or it isn't. The big W has been making significant steps for a while, so maybe they'll do it right. The further I read, the more hope I have, because they seem to have the right players at the table - including my hometown big box brand Target and a host of life-cycle-analysis experts.
On the other hand, I have to agree with Gunther: "Who chose Wal-Mart to be America's regulator?" I'm not sure I'd even trust Seventh Generation, a brand that has played a leading role in the corporate sustainability movement and in providing product information to consumers for two decades, to take this on! And Wal-Mart still has a long way to go to gain my trust.
For the moment, I'm glad someone is doing it (even if it is the biggest of the behemoths).
It will make a difference.