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The Green Life: Green Grocery Tips: Walmart

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February 28, 2013

Green Grocery Tips: Walmart

Customer-produce_129863303253686728The pursuit of sustenance has never been easy, though for most contemporary, first-world denizens, it's a largely consolidated quest. One-stop shopping is the evolutionary novelty that likely propelled Walmart to becoming the country's largest grocer. (Recall: 10,000-plus stores in 27 countries.)

This week, we've looked at farmers' markets, smaller grocery chains like Whole Foods Market, and medium ones like Publix for tips on protecting the planet while getting food for dinner. Now let's see how to keep the green ball rolling at Walmart.

Tip #4: Influence where you can.

Chris Schraeder, senior manager of sustainability communications at Walmart, said, "For such a big company, even small changes can make a big difference."

Installing skylights, light sensors, and solar installations can add up between the company's more than 4000 domestic stores, though not all locations implement each practice. The company's evaluating the environmental impact of its food products, too.

"We’re working with all of our suppliers, some NGOs, some universities to identify each category that’s sold in the supermarket," Schraeder said. "Cereal might be a category, fresh produce, laundry. We’re working to identify the hot spots in each of those categories. Sometimes it’s transportation. Sometimes it’s water management. Sometimes it’s packaging. There can be any number of things that are impacting that product through the supply chain." Locally-grown-produce_129824683358230270

In shoppers' case, leverage where it matters.

The trite but hopefully true "vote with your dollars" maxim applies to the company's organic groceries stock.

"Organic is something that our customers didn’t really buy into," Schraeder said. "We’ve tested it. We still carry it in our stores."

Schraeder said Walmart does source more than 10 percent of its produce locally, meaning from within stores' respective states. 

As we've learned through farmer's markets, though, just local or organic aren't sustainability guarantees. But in the modern market, they seem like good bets.

"In everything we do, we’re pushing more toward long-term sustainable options," Schraeder said.

Perhaps shoppers might push a little, too.


HS_Mackenzie_BLOG Mackenzie Mount is an editorial intern at Sierra. She's cleaned toilets at Yellowstone National Park and studied sustainable cooking at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas.




How to shop green at the farmers market

Going greener when shopping at Whole Foods

Thinking outside the eco-box at Publix

- images courtesy of Walmart

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