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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Can You Still Hate Wal-Mart? - by Mark Morford

 It's a shockingly eco-friendly plan from the world's most toxic retailer. Did hell just freeze over? 
Sometimes you just have to let the possibility breathe.
Sometimes you just have to allow that something grand and good and healthy might actually be born from the bowels of the dank and ravenous megacorporate world, like flowers from a dung heap, like vodka from old potatoes, even if it comes right alongside the nastiest, most abusive federal environmental policy you will see in your lifetime.
Take Wal-Mart, the most famously offensive, town-destroying, junk-purveying, labor-abusing, sweatshop-supporting, American-job-killing, soul-numbing, seizure-inducing, hope-curdling retailer in the known universe (just ask the fine local town of Hercules), moving upward of $300 billion in cheap mass-produced slurm every year via nearly 5,000 landscape-mauling eyesore stores stretching all the way from Texas to China and Argentina and South Korea and Mexico and your backyard, with U.S. stores accounting for fully 8 percent of all retail sales in our entire nation.
There has been, to date, very little good to say about this most voracious and powerful of low-end, trashy retailers, and certainly nothing from anyone even remotely concerned with the health of the planet and of the attuned consumers who inhabit it. Wal-Mart has always been, quite appropriately, the devil.
Until now. As juicy and warmhearted eco-blog Treehugger mentions in its latest Wal-Mart roundup (and as the New York Times later discussed in its huge "Business of Green" section last week), it seems that back in October, Wal-Mart's president, Lee Scott, delivered a "secret" speech to employees about "21st Century Leadership," in which he outlined a whole slew of what can only be called truly remarkable and potentially world-altering agenda items to help ensure the future health of the world's biggest shopping hell.


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