Summary of Force of Nature

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  • Innovative
  • Engaging


In 2004, while news stories portrayed Walmart as an unthinking despoiler of the natural world, CEO Lee Scott teamed up with Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting to make the retailing giant greener. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes describes Walmart’s voyage to environmental enlightenment. He recounts Walmart’s well-known dark side – for instance, its often-criticized employment policies – and wonders if any business so large can be sustainable. But Humes illuminates Walmart’s worldwide leadership and innovation regarding sustainability and proves that green business can be a fiscal plus. Initially, Walmart became notably more green not necessarily because it was the right thing to do, but because it was profitable. And like the Grinch that stole Christmas, Walmart’s actions appear to have made its heart grow a few sizes. Sustainability has become a foundation of how the retail giant does business; it earns profits and good press, and the planet benefits. getAbstract recommends this quick, uplifting read about an international giant getting green to face the future.

About the Author

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes is the author of the bestseller Mississippi Mud.



The Walmart Way

Propelled by its core mission of serving up savings, Walmart grew from a “pile it high, sell it cheap” department store in Arkansas to a multinational powerhouse dominating several retail categories. Determined to offer customers the best deals, Walmart routinely undercuts competitors’ prices by 15%. Within a decade of its entry into the grocery business, Walmart drove 29 supermarket chains into bankruptcy. Walmart mercilessly squeezes profit out of everything it stocks by demanding that suppliers figure out how to do more for less.

Introducing Sustainability

In 2004, sustainability consultant Jib Ellison suggested that business leaders should make the corporate case for sustainability in the US. They should walk the walk instead of relegating environmental issues to “greenwashing” under the heading of “Corporate Social Responsibility.” Peter Seligmann, founder of Conservation International, introduced Ellison to S. Robson Walton, Walmart’s chairman of the board, who was committed to environmental issues. Walton set up a meeting between Ellison and Walmart CEO Lee Scott to discuss the profits in going green.

Throughout the 1990s, Walmart...

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