Going Green: Even Walmart Knows Eco-Retailing is Smart

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It’s been one year since Dealernews published its Green Issue (http://bit.ly/8JyFBc) featuring Jenny Frieze of Frieze Harley- Davidson flexing her environmental muscles (http://bit.ly/8TxB5z) while showing the benefits of green retailing. That February 2009 issue also featured several articles on the benefits of going green, and the ins and outs of energy-efficient, environmentally responsible retailing. The question now is: Did any of this have an impact on you? If so, let us know at editors@dealernews.com.

Frieze — quite obviously — isn’t the only retailer with an eye on the environment and how it can affect the bottom line. The National Retail Federation reports (http://blog.nrf.com) that Wal-Mart has broad sustainability goals that coexist with the retail behemoth’s legendary focus on profitability. Walt Kistler, Wal-Mart’s senior VP of sustainability, outlines some of the company’s efforts, which were first put in place in 2005. These called for the company to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, to create zero waste and to sell products that sustain people and the environment. During the NRF’s big trade show in January, Kistler said these goals are spread among associates, operations, suppliers and customers.

While it’s a companywide effort, Kistler stressed that senior leadership needed to be engaged in any sustainability plans — they’re the ones likely to help push them through. In other words, this is something you’ll have to encourage your entire staff to follow. So what’s Wally-World doing?

  • Doubled the efficiency of its truck fleet
  • Focused on packaging changes to improve its logistics system
  • Created a profit stream out recycling
  • Unplugged the lights on some in-store vending machines (small changes can make an enormous difference, Kistler said.)

Much like the experts we talked with for our Green Issue, Kistler urged businesses to simply get started. This means anything from installing energy-efficient lighting, drought-resistant native landscaping, recycling waste oil for heating or updating a HVAC system.

— Dennis Johnson

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews February 2010 issue.