In case you missed it, this week, Wal-Mart
I envision thousands of Wal-Mart customers sharing high-fives as they fill their carts with curly light bulbs. While I doubt many Wal-Mart customers are actually united in any kind of struggle (beyond making it through the checkout in one piece), I do wonder how the major retailers compare in terms of meaningful environmental efforts.
Retail green quotient
Retailers are not like General Electric
Nevertheless, it's not hard to argue that growth, profitability, and environmental consciousness can happily coexist in the retail world ... with a little effort. So who's making that effort? Here is my "green quotient" on five of the biggest retailers.
Wal-Mart leads the pack
Wal-Mart has had an image problem in recent years, so it's not surprising the company is leading the pack in green efforts. It's the only retailer I'm aware of that has a vice president of strategy and sustainability. Wal-Mart's Web page has an extensive listing of environmental efforts, which represent perhaps the most comprehensive approach of any retailer now. The focus is on three areas:
- using renewable energy sources and building more energy-efficient stores;
- reducing waste production through recycling and packaging improvements;
- selling products that sustain the environment (like CFLs) at low prices
There, the company discusses lighting management systems and warehouse construction standards, introducing hybrid trucks to reduce fuel consumption, and carpool efforts at the Seattle home office. I would call this is an effort, but not yet a significant corporate commitment.
Home Depot is in real time
Not to be outdone, Home Depot
Lowe's in the hunt
While environmental commitment is hardly the primary criteria for selecting your next investment, it's comforting to know these powerhouse companies are showing some environmental good sense. Now if we could just get consumers to spend some money during the holiday season, retail might start seeing more green in its cash registers, too.
For more views on the corporate eco-scene, check out this series on how The Motley Fool went green last April in honor of Earth Day.
Fool contributor Timothy M. Otte surveys the retail scene from Dallas. He welcomes comments on his articles and owns shares of Wal-Mart, but none of the other companies mentioned in this article. The Fool's disclosure policy is always green.