Werbach, who once called Wal-Mart a "virus, infecting and destroying American culture," has apparently been hired on to consult by the very hand he formerly bit. It's all part of Wal-Mart's avowed intention to go green. So far, there's more talk than action, but the talk is both big and bold.
Sellers and Dudley are having none of it. They write:
Let's be really blunt: there is no such thing as a green big box that is full of exploited workers selling you cheap disposable stuff made in sweatshops on the other side of the planet. Whenever environmentalists help Wal-Mart score easy "corporate responsibility" points in The New York Times, they set back the efforts of working people in their battle with Wal-Mart, and simply reinforce the flaws of the old environmentalism which Werbach and others declared dead over a year ago.Ouch.
I posted earlier about the new face of Wal-Mart (if that's really what it is and not just green greasepaint) and it strikes me that Werbach is actually just a bit player in the larger narrative. (Think about it: How many people even know his name?) For now, at least, Al Gore is playing a much bigger role, having just delivered his message to a pep rally at Wal-Mart HQ. Writes Amanda Griscom, who witnessed the spectacle:
The pairing up of Gore, this season's It Boy in Hollywood and other left-leaning circles, and Wal-Mart, the goliath retailer loved in red states and loathed in blue cities, seems bizarre on its face -- and couldn't have happened before this year. But now, with Gore trying to spread climate awareness beyond the choir and [company CEO] Scott trying to give Wal-Mart a high-profile green makeover, the match actually makes sense.Which brings me to my concluding questions. I want to know what you think: Is Gore simply playing into Wal-Mart's hands? Or is he having precisely the impact he's trying to; that is, changing the way America does business? Do think Adam Werbach's a sell-out? Or is he putting his name and influence to good use, where it might accomplish the most? And finally, what should the environmental movement's response to Wal-Mart's green initiative be?