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What Wal-Mart Learned from Patagonia

yvon.jpg“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire, and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” That’s the mission statement of eco-friendly outfitter Patagonia, while Wal-Mart’s is focused on perpetually low prices, at any cost. Despite their differences, the two companies are now working together. (If hell has indeed frozen over, we recommend the Nano Puff pullover in Forge Grey.) Wal-Mart is taking advice from Patagonia on green business practices, writes Monte Burke in the May 24 issue of Forbes:

Over the last two years Patagonia has shared its knowledge about greening its supply chain with Wal-Mart—for free. It is also working with Wal-Mart to develop a sustainability index for its products: Within a few years Wal-Mart wants to place a scorecard on its store goods, rating products on eco-friendliness and social impact. The first step Wal-Mart has taken is to evaluate its suppliers. It will give preference to those who best comply.

Patagonia has assisted Wal-Mart mainly on the clothing side, helping Wal-Mart buyers figure out things like how much water is consumed in the manufacture of garments and whether pesticides are used. The Patagonians helped Wal-Mart come up with questions regarding things like climate, energy and efficiency that the company will use to evaluate its suppliers.

“I always thought the revolution would start at the bottom,” said Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard (above). “It’s starting at the top.”

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