I’ve been participating in my own going green journey for about nine years now. I still find new things to change every single year. I’m seeing similar trends in the business world, as well. A few years back determining your company’s carbon footprint was important. Companies could create a plan to reduce the company's eco-impact. Now some companies are working to determine their water footprint. While this is forward progression, I’m seeing a lot of companies being criticized for not moving fast enough. So it got me wondering, is going green an all or nothing affair?

Over the past year, Walmart has made several new, public sustainability goals. Two examples include the expansion of its sustainable agriculture program and the Walmart Foundation’s partnership with local food banks on energy efficiency projects. While Walmart is making positive changes to its business model, are these changes enough to overshadow the company’s shady past? For some, the answer is yes, for others it is a definitive no, and still others are taking a wait-and-see approach.

All of the recent eco-news out of Walmart even caused Robin Shreeves, MNN’s Food blogger, to question whether it was time to rethink her opinion of the company. Here’s a quote from her article:

“Still, some of Walmart's recent efforts to address the nutrition in some of its foods and getting affordable healthier food into the hands of those who need it have me thinking. It’s time for me to think about the level of 'evilness' that I have attributed to the company. And, while I don’t have any plans to step foot in a Walmart anytime soon, perhaps I can be more understanding of the people who do — at least to grocery shop.”

Let’s face it, Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, and they have the potential to get out a message, any message, to millions of customers worldwide. If this message includes encouraging customers to consider eco-friendlier choices, then I think, overall, this is a good thing — regardless of my personal opinions about the company.

A recent article about Ziploc bags being recyclable is also causing me to question whether incremental changes in the nation’s going green journey should be applauded instead of criticized. I use reusable sandwich and snack bags and out of probably 100+ families that I see at the kids’ school or extra-curricular activities, I see other using them, too. These are parents that use CFL bulbs, drive hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles, use reusable shopping bags etc., but they still use disposable plastic sandwich bags.

So, is it really a bad thing that Ziploc bags can be recycled now? In my opinion, no. Sure, reusable bags are a more eco-friendly choice, but if the first step to reusable bags is an existing Ziploc customer recycling the bags instead of throwing them away, then I’m all for this. Again, this is forward progression in the sustainability movement.

I don’t think going green is all or nothing proposition, especially when it comes to millions of American consumers who need to change their daily habits. The more that big businesses can do to bring sustainability concerns into the households of everyday Americans, the better. Millions of households making one small change will have a greater impact than a few households making hundreds of changes.


Going green: Is it all or nothing?
As companies begin to expand their sustainability programs, there will be criticism and praise.