Since 1989 when Sam Walton launched retailing's first major environmental marketing program, Wal-Mart has been engaged in a myriad of environment-related activities. One of the most notable is the building of an entire green store in Lawrence, Kansas, designed from the ground up to be environmentally sound. The store incorporates features such as sustainably harvested wood, a rooftop rainwater collection system, solar powered outdoor signage, and specially designed system of natural "daylighting" that has been linked to increased sales, presumably because of the pleasant environment and the enhanced attractiveness of the merchandise itself.
The store also includes an extensive recycling area and facilities for on-site community education. A second green demonstration store in Industry, California demonstrates high tech skylights, a massive solar electric awning that produces 14,000 watts of electricity to light, heat and cool the building as well as a granite-like interior finishing material made primarily of recycled newsprint and a bio-based resin derived from soy flour. (Source, "Minding the Store", Green Business Letter, Joel Makower, editor.)
Paul Higham, vice-president of marketing for Wal-Mart, explains how the chain's many environmental initiatives are spurred by consumers:
"Whenever you have a movement of any sort in this country, it begins with idealists who tend toward an extremely polarized view. But this is an issue that started because of real problems and concerns people had in their own neighborhoods, such as insufficient landfill capacity and questions regarding the quality of the water we drink and the air we breathe... The reality is that all of the idealistic statements that we have heard over recent years have now been translated into more pragmatic approaches such as sorting recyclables in the home and using municipal or private drop-offs."
"The average American knows infinitely more about these issues today than they did two years ago, and as people continue to learn more and more about what they can do, we see more and more people getting involved. At Wal-Mart, we're seeing that sentiment expressed in more and more letters from our customers." (Source: Pellet, Jennifer, "It's Not Easy Being Green," Discount Merchandiser).
Note: There are now two new green Wal-Mart stores: one in Moore, Oklahoma and another in Industry, Los Angeles. All three stores were built with the environment in mind!Written by: Jacquelyn A. Ottman
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