What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell Us
The Greenwash Brigade

Is Wal-Mart making my eco-dream come true?

Janne K. Flisrand Jul 15, 2009

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.

Daniel Goleman agrees with me. It seems WalMart agrees with me, too – and they’re making it happen.

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.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.