Local environmentalists urge retailer to do more
While the green community and longtime environmental advocates commend Wal-Mart
for its efforts, they say the big-box corporation could do more.
"Wal-Mart should be applauded for their solar-energy efforts and shift to sell more environmentally friendly products," said Jeff Mikulina, director of Sierra Club Hawaii. "Wal-Mart is the 900-pound retail gorilla, so they have the ability to put these more sustainable products in the hands of many more people."
But, says Mikulina, this in no way makes Wal-Mart "green" or sustainable.
"Their business model is based on sourcing a massive amount of goods from around the world and shipping them everywhere - an immensely carbon-intensive activity," he said. "And the mass consumerism ethic they promote contributes to the growing waste problem on our islands."
Wal-Mart's investment in solar makes good business sense, and is a smart investment, said Mikulina.
However, he says Wal-Mart could do more locally.
"They could follow the lead of another mainland chain, Whole Foods, and actively work to procure local produce and products," said Mikulina. "They could take the lead on recycling and voluntarily redeem deposits on bottles and cans as they are required to do in other states."
Aside from sustainability issues, Wal-Mart is still embroiled in a legal tussle with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. over the treatment of iwi at the Keeaumoku store.
Carolyn Golojuch, a fierce Wal-Mart critic that led community efforts to stop the store from being built in Kapolei, says she still refuses to shop there for ethical reasons.
"They still have a long way to go before they are even considered green," she said. "I don't shop there and I won't shop there until they believe in civil rights and benefits for their employees, and the whole ball of wax."
Golojuch said she continues to oppose Wal-Mart's proposed store in Kapolei.