At Saturday’s young global leaders summit in Omaha, Climate Change and Oil Dependence: We DO Have a Choice, keynote speaker John Cavanaugh spoke about "actors" and "reflectors" of change.  While businesses are the reflectors of change, he commented, we as consumers and voters are the real actors of change.  And when we show businesses that we want environmentally sound products, the reflections of change can be quite interesting.

Everybody’s least favorite big box store, Wal-Mart, has recently embarked on an initiative to transform its company to run entirely on renewable energy, sell sustainable goods and produce no net waste.  It remains to be seen whether or not the ambitious policies laid out by CEO H. Lee Scott will be implemented.  But current indications are promising enough that Grist has begrudgingly tipped its hat to the store in an entertaining article about Al Gore’s recent visit to the company’s Arkansas headquarters.

While we can still argue about whether or not Wal-Mart is a force for good or for evil overall (and I assure you that we will, at least among the AID staff!), it gives me hope that even the world’s most powerful store does appear to reflect change when it comes to the environment.  If consumers demonstrate that being green is not just being good, but being good for business, that is what the stores will give us. 

As Scott himself says, "The benefits of the strategy are undeniable, whether you look through
the lens of greenhouse-gas reduction or the lens of cost savings. What
has become so obvious is that [a green strategy] provides better value
for our customers."