Friday, August 31, 2007

He Sold His Soul to Walmart

Thanks to The Bru Notes for giving a heads up to this really good article from the business magazine Fast Company about Adam Werbach, a former president of the Sierra Club (at 23) who is now helping Walmart in its sustainability efforts. Needless to say, there is a figurative paradox of a lifelong environmentalist working for a company that is decidedly un-progressive in many respects. Werbach expresses his misgivings at Walmart's labor practices, for example, and finds that his political and environmental activism collides with the nature of his work on behalf of Walmart.

Werbach has taken much heat from his peers and the environmental community on this decision. I think it's a little admirable. He had issues with the environmental movement on its willingness to confront the issues and try to right its wrongs, which really echo a lot of the issues I had working with progressive movements locally. He is trying to make this large corporation, which to this point has been a huge strain on our communities, more "green" and more sustainable. Even if he can make baby steps with this, he still deserves a lot of credit. He will take Walmart further with this (that is, if they're sincere about it) than if they'd just gotten a few corporate exiles to run their sustainable development branch.

2 comments:

StevenChoi said...

Aaargh! Talk about an epic struggle between idealism and pragmatism. Adam Werbach is like the indie musician who signs to a major label. You believe in your work---how can you get your message out there? Most would cry "SELLOUT"! Unfortunately, it's not that easy. I both admire and loathe his bold move. I admire him taking his principles and trying to enact change at the mega-level. I loathe Wal-Mart and all it stands for.

Hopefully Werbach can influence Wal-Mart to stop importing so many "goods" from China, thus reducing: the trade deficit, the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs, and the environmental impact of shipping thousands of container units on giant tankers over vast distances. Also, can Werbach come up with a viable solution for what to do with all of those empty stores (over 300!)? How much influence can a man like Werbach have on such a massive corporation? Am I expecting too much of this man? Is he expecting too much of himself as an agent of change?

Only time will tell...

MoniqueDC said...

Regardless of what Adam Werbach does, the fact remains that the Wal-Mart model is by its very nature a non-sustainable business model. True, it may make mega-profits for owners, but for the planet, the employees and the local businesses kicked to the curb by this "price is the only value" store the only answer is to BOYCOTT WAL-MART. Vote with your pocketbook. Do not support this organization and when enough of us do this, people like Adam will not have to sell their souls to see a positive impact.