Walmart Sustainability

Previously walmart had never looked so deeply into

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Unformatted text preview: their toxicity levels), and water usage. Another 20 percent came from cotton processing. These environmental impacts were related largely to the toxicity of the chemicals and dyes used, and were roughly of the same magnitude as the impacts associated with the processing of conventional cotton. Surprisingly, as much as 60 percent of the environmental impact came from the post-production stage, which included the energy usage and waste associated transportation, consumer washing habits, and product disposal. By shifting from conventional to organic cotton, Calahan Klein indicated that most or all of the toxicity impacts could be eliminated. Simultaneously, organic practices could drive a reversal of some of the negative impacts felt in the other areas (e.g., organic growing used less water and increased the capacity of the soil to retain water over time). Previously, Walmart had never looked so deeply into its supply chain. “It used to be that if Walmart was buying Champion t-shirts, they wouldn’t look past Sara Lee [who held the license for Champion products]. They didn’t think about the spinner, and the dyer, the ginner, or the farmer,” said Diana Rothschild (GSB 2007), a former Walmart employee and Blu Skye consultant to the early textiles team. After several failed attempts to purchase organic garments from suppliers at reasonable rates (by Walmart’s standards), Claire Watts, Walmart’s executive VP of merchandising for apparel, led the effort to talk directly with farmers about acquiring organic cotton. By expanding its supply of organic cotton to an economic scale for downstream manufacturing operations, Walmart would be able to significantly reduce costs, and move aggressively into organic textiles. The first step was to adopt clear standards for organic cotton farming and manufacturing processes. Brandner described Walmart’s approach: We’ve worked with the Organic Trade Association and the Organic Exchange to make sure that we are upholding the most stringent guidelines and standards. For the growth of cot...
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