Can Walmart and Small Mart Coexist?

Short answer?  They have to.

Backstory: Albe Zakes from TerraCycle contacted me the other day.  He was a show guest on Mrs. Green a long time ago.  The TerraCycle story is a great one – young minds creating something from worm poop and making a successful business out it.  He wanted me to help spread the word that that Walmart was going to carry 60 of their products.  Big news indeed and the topic of another blog.

It made me take the time to really think about the corporate giant that lots of people love to hate vs. the small business owners who are the backbone of our country – thus the term I stole from Michael Shuman – the Small Marts of the world. Can they coexist?

In my mind they absolutely have to.  Unless Walmart, the biggest purchaser of manufactured goods in the WORLD, gets behind sustainable, organic, recycled products, the price points will remain out of reach for the masses.  I want children to eat certified organic yogurt.  Walmart has made that possible.  I want to buy grass fed beef and free range or cruelty free raised chickens.  If Walmart says yes, I can. 

What I hope we can achieve is a balance.  Dine out locally whenever possible. Support your small business owner in every way you can each and every day.  And give Walmart the praise it deserves for showing -casing a company like TerraCycle – the little engine that could. 

And for making certified organic yogurt an affordable choice for families trying to do the right thing on a really tight budget.

To a better, more sustainable world & to authentic green partnerships.

3 thoughts on “Can Walmart and Small Mart Coexist?”

  1. Albe Zakes says:

    Hi Mrs. Green Family!

    Albe from TerraCycle here. Thank you for all the support. We want people to know this is the chance to vote with your dollars, so if you think big retailers should start selling more green and organic products than let them know!

    If you would rather not vote in this “referendum” we understand. Check out our website and Mrs. Green’s to see the million other ways you can help us grow a better world!

    Peas, trees and cheese,

    Albe Z.

  2. William says:

    I agree that big retailers will need to go green in order for us to make progress on reducing our carbon footprint etc. But I highly disagree with the idea that wal-mart, at this point, is really that sustainable at all.

    Wal-mart fundamentally has an unsustainable business model. I do not have a problem with the company for the heck of it. If you really look at how their business operates, it is clear that the fundamentals of how they operate are not environmentally friendly nor socially responsible.

    They operate a global supply chain, that sources conventional and organic products from areas with cheap labor and loose labor and environmental regulations. They ship their products thousands of miles using cheap oil that exists because of the lack of a price on carbon. Then, they are sold by workers not earning a living wage. That is how you get the low price.

    I am sure you have all heard this before, but it is important to remember that Wal-Mart’s decision to go green is partially based on consumer demand, but also on the strategic decision to focus on environmental initiatives because it is less expensive than significantly changing their business model or treating their workers better. The rest of the world pays the price of their low costs.

    Other companies, such as Ikea, are able to achieve significant progress in social and environmental responsibility while offering low prices. But they have a different business model and are not wal-mart. Wal-mart does not deserve that much praise, yet.

    btw.. nothing against terracycle. I love what you guys are doing.

    Anyways, I am become one of THOSE people that write massive blog comments. sorry..

  3. gina says:

    Sometimes I honestly feel as though I suffer from a green multiple personality disorder on this journey of trying to decide and consider all the moving parts in the new economy. No matter how hard I try, I cannot forget all the research on the number of small businesses Walmart has displaced when moving into some communities. Add to that the living wage issue and the products they ship from CHINA! That being said, Walmart has paved the way for affordable prescriptions, affordable organic milk, and more. Is there another big hero out there? I,too, could blog all night.

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