November 23, 2007

Greening the Corporation


When business sees environmental management as saving it money, increasing productivity, becoming more competitive and attracting young talent, the prospect of sustainable policies taking root becomes more likely.

Obviously, it was not always viewed this way by corporate bosses who, not long ago, saw our air, water and soil as their toxic sewers.


No corporation illustrates this broad continuum better than the Atlanta-based Interface Corporation—the country’s largest commercial carpet tile manufacturer. In 1994, founder Ray Anderson started his company on its goal as a “restorative enterprise,” which he described as zero net pollution and 100% recycling by 2020. The company is 45 percent there, he estimates. (


“Sustainability,” Anderson told the New York Times, “pays in customer loyalty, employee spent-hard cash,” plus 336 million dollars in savings since 1995.


If I'm not mistaken, this Anderson guy speaks in The Corporation, a Mark Achbar documentary about....corporations. Anderson (if I'm right) is a capitalist gone conservationist who is one of the few legitimate corporate voices for sustainability.

I was recently disgusted to see corporately owned NBC parading "Green Week" earlier this month, complete with an all-green peacock logo and public service announcements about conserving energy, "brought to you by WAL-MART." Something is going either incredibly right or incredibly wrong when Wal-Mart is preaching green ideals, and in this case I'm pretty sure something is going incredibly wrong. Greens have been gaining ground for a while, and the boys at the top have seen the progress. They're using the bandwagon for their own wasteful gain, and that just burns my grits.

If Wal-Mart is going to be the new spokesman for energy conservation and green living, they're gonna have to make some changes. Stop building new stores RIGHT NOW, start selling more American made products, and get rid of the Wal-Mart gas stations if you want any kind of credibility in the eyes of true greens. It's not enough to encourage us to buy "this funny looking lightbulb" from Wal-Mart. Sure, I'll buy those kinds of bulbs but I will buy them from whoever I fucking choose.

I'm glad that the whole idea of "going green" is catching on, but I think it might be getting watered down and tainted by corporate interests, we have to be really careful about who might profiteer off of whole-hearted green efforts. If we leave it to Wal-Mart to help save the planet, I get the feeling we might get the opposite of what we want.

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