A tale of an environmentalist now working for Wal-Mart

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27 Aug 2007, 4:58 pm

Published on Sunday, August 26, 2007 by Fast Company

Working With the Enemy
Once the youngest president of the Sierra Club, Adam Werbach used to call Wal-Mart toxic. Now the company is his biggest client. Does the path to a greener future run through Bentonville?

“To this day, they won’t speak to me,” says Adam Werbach. His clients — or rather, his old clients — fired him when word got out last year that he was doing work for Wal-Mart. Of course, many people make compromises to do business with the largest company in the world — accept lower profit margins, absorb relentless performance pressure. But for Werbach, 34, a lifelong environmentalist, the cost of working with Wal-Mart has been personal. Some of his old friends don’t speak to him. His former colleagues think he’s sold out. And then there are the threats. “I attended this event and someone came up to me,” recalls Werbach, his discomfort still fresh. “He said, ‘I wouldn’t feel safe if I were you. People have gotten hurt.’”

Werbach has stopped speaking in public without special security.He has made a leap that is either visionary or naive, depending on your perspective. He’s been a leader in the environmental world, president of the Sierra Club at just 23, author of a 1997 book Act Now, Apologize Later that called Wal-Mart “a new breed of toxin” that “could wreak havoc on a town.” He was such an iconoclast, he’d publicly challenged old-line environmentalists in a speech in 2004.

But in signing on to Wal-Mart last year, he went too far, driving off even those nonprofits who still did business with his small consulting firm, Act Now. They didn’t want the help of someone who would sell his services to the Behemoth of Bentonville...

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/08/26/3423/



Johnnie
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28 Aug 2007, 5:58 pm

I read part of it. guys creates a park, so people will get in their gas guzzlers and go there

guy gets a job at wal-mart and holds meeting people have to travel to an attend, than passes out all sorts of papers and DVD's that will end up in the trash

the enviro wacko's create pollution



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29 Aug 2007, 3:20 pm

As an environmental wacko, I take umbrage at that.

I thought the reason it's interesting is that he's not an environmentalist, only pretending to be.


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Johnnie
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30 Aug 2007, 11:09 am

That's just it, most are phonies and it's just a fad they are going through.



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30 Aug 2007, 2:04 pm

Johnnie wrote:
That's just it, most are phonies and it's just a fad they are going through.


How do you come to know this?


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30 Aug 2007, 7:09 pm

I live in vermont, just go to wal-mart in new hampshire and look at the license plates and bumper stickers :lol:

just drive around town and look at the huge houses, none of the phones are doing without nothing and living simple.

these people make some little lame attempt for show, but when it comes right down to it, they aren't really going to put much effort into limiting their consumprion and their impact on the enviroment.



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30 Aug 2007, 8:48 pm

If he was really worried about sustainability maybe he could get them to carry stuff that lasts instead of the cheap crap they sell


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31 Aug 2007, 2:14 pm

Johnnie wrote:
I live in vermont, just go to wal-mart in new hampshire and look at the license plates and bumper stickers :lol:

just drive around town and look at the huge houses, none of the phones are doing without nothing and living simple.

these people make some little lame attempt for show, but when it comes right down to it, they aren't really going to put much effort into limiting their consumprion and their impact on the enviroment.


I can't deny that there are some environmentalists who are actually hypocrites and/or otherwise rediculous. . .

However, from my personal involvement in environmental causes- in a conservative desert community- I would say that most are genuine, and that the main things that stop them from being effective are

-lack of information
-lack of social support
-lack of political power

Not hypocrisy.

I think most of the people I would consider environmentalists aren't the ones with the over-the-top bumper stickers; it's the housewives who want to know where to buy more locally grown produce, the politically moderate college students who want to know how to reduce their carbon footprint, the doctors who go door to door telling people to protest the new freeway plan because it will increase childhood lukemia rates by nine times in their neighborhoods. . . and there are a lot of these people out there, a solid third of the population or more, I would guess.

No need to pretend they are all rediculous. ;)


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02 Sep 2007, 6:53 am

Quote:
there are a lot of these people out there, a solid third of the population or more, I would guess.


I would guess your guess is way off.

people pick and choose to act like they want real change, but when it comes down to them giving up something they enjoy or think is needed, than it's another story.

vermont is a perfect example of people who aren't serious, just the fact nobody is calling for the ski industry to be discouraged is proof when it comes down to really paying, they want nothing to do with it and boy would they pay in this state if the cash cow ski industry was attacked like smoking and taxed out of business. The tax revenue the state makes off the ski industry is massive and the locals know their taxes would go threw the roof without that revenue.

it's not just the ticket taxes and sales taxes and motel taxes, they also do every well taxing all the property from the motels down to the vacation homes and the visitors don't send their kids to school in the state.

The only thing people want is for the other guy to alter his lifestyle so they don't have to really change their own lifestyle besides put on some little show that barely affects them.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 195538.ece

it's funny as hell when things are really looked at.



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04 Sep 2007, 2:11 pm

I can't speak for Vermont. . . only for the hours I've spent conversing with the public- door to door and at the local farmer's market- here. . .

Though materialism/ wealth and the lifestyles they habituate pose a serious problem to environmental protection, I think that for most of us- by far the majority of the population, with middle and lower class incomes*- the story is quite different.

The question for us is a basic utility function from economics.

There is a price to sustainable lifestyles. That price comes in time, in money, sometimes in social capital. The fact that this price seems not often worth paying for the general populace doesn't mean they have no interest in buying; it just means that, at the moment, the price is too high.

I find almost everyone is interested. The trick for most of them is finding the actions that will be useful and showing them how to preform them at the lowest cost. . .



* I do understand that what constitutes a middle or lower class lifestyle in the US is an absurdly wealthy lifestyle by global standards; however, a few relevant details-
- the amount of wealth required to be a minimally respectable and functioning member of society is vastly higher here than it is in most of the world
and
- the happiness connected to wealth is connected to relative, not absolute wealth.

I'm not trying to say that it isn't a huge problem that needs, environmentally, to be addressed; I just think these factors need to be taken into account when


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04 Sep 2007, 10:33 pm

And then there are the threats. “I attended this event and someone came up to me,” recalls Werbach, his discomfort still fresh. “He said, ‘I wouldn’t feel safe if I were you. People have gotten hurt.’”

Some people take this s**t WAY too seriously. Every time I hear about some environmentalist laying down the law and making threats, it creates a huge urge in me to go and burn fridges and tyres, just to irritate the hell out of them.

I do wonder if they realise that, as with everything else, heavy-handed jackbooted sturmgruppen activities just make people obstinate and annoyed?

Its all down to governments people.. what the public recycles (by choice or by force) amounts to exactly bugger all on a global scale. The public arent going to stop using cars whilst ever the public transport (corporate or government funded) is s**t. NO amount of saving plastic bottles is going to reduce carbon footprints if the dumb f***s at HQ are sailing it to China to get it recycled (true story, I aint making this up.) and speaking of the Chinese.. no amount of ANYTHING by ANYONE is going to help this planet a single iota whilst the Chinese and a clutch of other nations are still having a 19th century style industrial revolution.

Example: The WHOLE population of the UK could live in caves eating beansprouts and wearing cats, and it wouldnt equate to turning off TEXAS. Go figure.


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Bridge
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16 Sep 2007, 11:40 am

Did anyone see the documentary Walmart the high cost of low price? it was shocking i would never shop there ever.



Jainaday
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17 Sep 2007, 6:31 am

Bridge wrote:
Did anyone see the documentary Walmart the high cost of low price? it was shocking i would never shop there ever.


I haven't. . . but when I get a chance I will.


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