At a time when conservation seems stuck in the quagmire of bureaucracy, red tape, old technology, and extremely low expectations it seems new life has been breathed into the conservation issue; and the timing could not be better. It reminds me of the legend where the Phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. In the legend, when the Phoenix feels its end approaching, it builds a nest, sets it on fire, and is consumed by his own flames. From the pile of ashes, a new Phoenix arises, young and powerful. Hopefully conservationists are ready to build a nest that they can set on fire so a new way of getting conservation on the land can arise from the ashes of our current system.
A couple years ago, I started hearing this crazy rhetoric from Walmart about how they want to reduce their environmental footprint. Walmart said they were going to “encourage” their top suppliers, such as General Mills and Coca Cola, to provide products that were produced more sustainably. At the time, I thought, “they can’t be serious”. Really, who has ever thought of Walmart as a corporate “good guy.” Craziness, right? Walmart is making the world more sustainable? But as it turns out it does seem like Walmart is serious.
“Last year, Walmart – the nation’s largest grocer, commanding a third of the market – asked many of its top suppliers to submit fertilizer optimization plans. This new fertilizer program is part of Walmart’s commitment to reduce 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its supply chain by 2015, a commitment Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) helped the company to develop. Walmart analyzed its greenhouse gas footprint and found that for half of its top 100 products, fertilizer use was the biggest GHG hotspot. So far, 15 companies representing 30 percent of food and beverage sales in North America have developed plans to source more sustainable grains to meet Walmart’s demand.”
Excerpt from EDF Press Release: http://www.edf.org/media/edf-launches-initiative-reduce-fertilizer-pollution-commodity-grain-crops
First, unbelievable; and second, what a great way to achieve environmental stewardship. Instead of forcing “well meaning”, but probably “completely unworkable regulations” on agriculture, farmers can instead respond to market forces. If farmers want to sell their products through the largest grocer in the nation they can become more sustainable. This is nothing short of refreshing.
But in case you are a “Doubting Thomas” as I was look at the commitments that Walmart has secured.