Feature Article

Wal-Mart: Every Day Low . . . Impact?

The world's largest company claims to have embraced environmental responsibility in everything from its supply chains to its waste stream.

January 1, 2006

“We should view the environment as [Hurricane] Katrina in slow motion.” With that statement, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., CEO Lee Scott summarized his newfound understanding of ecological connections, following a year of listening to Wal-Mart’s critics. In his October 2005 speech, Scott signaled what appears to be a remarkable culture shift for a retail giant famous for driving its suppliers to streamline operations and reduce their costs. Can an interest in total cost of goods and services (including environmental and social impacts) coexist with a mission to deliver products at the lowest possible cost? A multibillion-dollar experiment now appears to be underway to find out.

The scale at which Wal-Mart operates is staggering. The company took in roughly $300 billion in sales in 2005, and it was the largest company in the world, according to