Q: Have Wal-Mart's recent eco-initiatives changed your opinion of the company?

Samuel Fromartz, Author of Organic, Inc.

They need to show how their entire business model is being redesigned so that responsible sourcing and low energy use are the primary goals, rather than low cost at any price. To get away from the hype, they need transparency: Are the Chilean fish farms sustainable? Are food miles falling? Are workers fairly compensated? The proof of the vision will be in measurable results. 

Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University
Wal-Mart’s eco-initiatives appear as a force for good overall, but raise questions as to their true intentions. Will these new standards raise costs to the consumer too much? Will the company try to weaken the USDA standards so organics can be sold more cheaply? Will focusing on its environmental image obscure issues with its labor practices? The jury is still out. 

Chris O’Brien, director, Responsible Purchasing Network for the Center for a New American Dream 
We applaud Wal-Mart’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact. As the global retail behemoth, the company wields enormous power throughout its supply chain to dramatically increase the supply and decrease the cost of environmentally preferable products. But Wal-Mart’s heavy dependence on global shipping is a huge source of greenhouse-gas emissions. Sourcing products locally may reduce the retailer’s contribution to climate change — and it is in their self-interest to do so before strict regulations emerge.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2006. The story was added to MNN.com in June 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2006.