Green Wal-Mart: A Step Forward, or a Contradiction in Terms?

There’s been a really engaging discussion going on at GreenBusiness.net (subscription required) over Wal-Mart’s experimental green Supercenters being built in McKinney, TX, and Aurora, CO. Among the green features these stores will showcase:

The two green stores will get about 8 percent of their energy from solar and wind power, Stewart said.

Those technologies will save about 300,000 kilowatts of electricity used to light a store in a year. The average supercenter uses 1.5 million kilowatts for lighting in a year.

Additional experiments include creating heating fuel from a combination of used frying oil and used motor oil from the store’s Jiffy Tire & Lube department. Heating panels in the floor are supposed to keep cashiers warm despite the constant opening of the front doors, Stewart said.

It’s hard to know what to make of this. On one hand (as one GB.net member notes), Wal-Mart’s experiments with these technologies has great potential to spread the word about green business and lifestyles to consumers that will likely never visit sustainablog and other Sustainable Blogosphere sites. On the other hand, this doesn’t affect at all Wal-Mart’s contributions to suburban sprawl, its poor treatment of workers, or its sourcing from some of the world’s most exploitative labor markets (particularly China). The technologies highlighted certainly play well into Wal-Mart’s focus on cutting costs in its stores, and it’s good that they’re demonstrating that renewable energy and other green practices can save money. I still won’t be shopping there, though…

TriplePundit also has some thoughts on this development… Organic Matter chimes in, also…

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