Walmart and Sustainability? Listen to the Mamas

This post is part of the Green Moms Carnival, which will be hosted this month by Mary Hunt at In Women We Trust. The topic is “standards” with a specific look at Walmart’s sustainability index.

She asked us to ponder this quote:

“Wal Mart and other big box stores are developing a sustainability index. I don’t have the $250,000 it costs to get a seat at the table, but if I had a seat there, this is what I’d want to make sure is in that index criteria…”

Here’s a little background. According to, Walmart has been working on developing a sustainability index for over a year now. This is truly revolutionary, and it could possibly change the retail landscape for the better.

According to this Treehugger article:

“To enter the index, each product will have to undergo an intense life cycle analysis. This will require help from each of Wal-Mart’s 60,000+ suppliers, and some painstaking research. With inspectors and analysts crawling up the supply chain and peeking into every corner of production in order to deliver a comprehensive environmental assessment, we might see some major changes made by some major companies.

But who’s going to be doing the crawling and peeking, exactly? Well, researchers from some of the top universities in the US, for starters. Faculty at Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkelely, and others have reportedly been involved in the planning stages of the index. Wal-Mart’s next move is to announce a ‘sustainability consortium’ (which will debut this Thurs. the 16th) that includes the likes of U of Arizona professors, big manufacturers like Proctor and Gamble and General Mills, and potentially all the aforementioned faculty and even other competing retailers like Target and Costco.”

But guess who wasn’t invited to the party (okay, consortium)? You guessed it. Consumers. Mamas, who hold most of the purse strings.

So, back to Mary’s question. What would I like to say, if was at the table?

Here’s what I would like to see on the sustainability index:

*Clear Labeling and Testing: All products labeled and tested for safety. Products could not contain phthalates, PVC, lead, and BPA.

*Country of Origin Labeling, with clear made in the U.S. labels emphasizing the lesser carbon needed for transporting the product. If the product was made in China, information about specific measures taken to ensure product safety should be included.

*Company Information about green practices and human rights for workers on each product.

*Expected lifetime of product, with information about how and where to recycle or send the product into reuse.

*Clear ingredients list for every product, including those pesky ingredients usually not labeled but present, particularly in cosmetics.

*Safety labeling from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics,, and the Environmental Working Group.

Oh, and I am just warming up. Now, I know I am dreaming, but she asked, and this is what I would love to see. I try not to shop at Walmart, for the many reasons I’ve discussed here before. But I am happy to see these efforts, I only wish they’d asked us consumers what we’d like to see. After all, it’s Americans who made this the biggest, most profitable company in the world, so don’t we have the power here?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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