September 23, 2006

Wal-Mart to cut packaging by 5 percent

In this story.

OK, I am not a big Wal-Mart fan on a lot of levels. The whole killing rural downtowns, the whole driving companies out of business, the whole part time workers and benefits package thing. But I am also cognizant that (a) they do what they do because the government lets them and (b) they do what they do because customers want it.

My friend Lynne has some interesting things to say about Walmart here. Bear in mind that she enjoys shooting guns and dressing up in authentic wool military uniforms in order to play antiquated music, so take her with a grain of salt(peter)....

As someone who travels a lot for work to small towns in this great land of ours, I end up at Walmart more often then not when I need tools, supplies, or personal care things. Like it or not, American has been franchised......

Anyway, getting back to Wal-Mart and the environment. I propose that major national or international companies (like Wal-Mart or Home Depot or McDonald's or Microsoft) are in a unique position to effect global change, in the absence of government regulation or guidance. If the government is not going to step in to promulgate energy conservation, for example, then it is not going to happen unless an organization large enough sets some standards, pushes for change. Walmart may become enlightened on this front for the sole purpose of saving some money and earning some positive PR. But the clout they have, in terms of market share and R&D and information systems - will permit them to go places that would otherwise be unexplored, and other companies (and perhaps, the planet) will benefit from their initiatives.

Another tangeant - MacDonald's has heretofore been in the business of making food. They are very very good at making food that people want. And while the fact that a quarter pounder with cheese value meal costs under $5, can be procured in under a minute through your car window, and is (as one otherwise enlightened friend has described it) the perfect meal, are all good things from a marketing perspective, it nevertheless has a significant overpercentage of the RDA of fat and carbs and salt. Bad food. But imagine if McDonald's was prodded to channel its food technology, marketing savvy, and mass production to making inexpensive and healthy food, and marketing it in such a way that Americans actually want to but it and consume it. Yowza....

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