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My recent post about Wal-Mart's professed desire to go green generated some valuable feedback from reader Valerie who commented, "When I read that you declined to have your products in Wal-Mart I was completely shocked for many reasons."
First, I want say thanks, Valerie, for your thoughtful critique of our decision not to sell to Wal-Mart. This is without question one of the most complicated business and ethical questions we face. And it's well worth adding a few additional thoughts to my previous post.
- Our primary goal as a company is to play as large a role as possible in creating a more just and sustainable world. That desire translates as often into dialogue and conversation as it does selling products.
- If we were selling to Wal-Mart I would be less bold in my constructive criticism of them. I wish it weren't so, but that has been my experience. If we were dependent on Wal-Mart for a significant percentage of our revenue, it would change the relationship and in my judgment that would make us a less effective change agent.
- However, if we aren’t going to make our products available through Wal-Mart to people who can’t afford or have no easy access to natural food stores, we must find another way to provide that access. Right now that translates into expanding aggressively into traditional supermarkets like Raley’s. We are also developing some other less conventional options.
- I am uncomfortable taking money from Wal-Mart today, not necessarily for ever, but for now. Giving away money I was uncomfortable receiving feels like a very slippery slope to me. Where do you draw the line? If it’s not ok then it’s not ok. I am a pretty rigid person when it comes to my values. Wal-Mart Watch highlights some of the reasons for my concern in great detail.
- Our products are available to everyone through internet sites like Drugstore.com, Amazon.com, and Gaiam.com.
- Not everyone at Seventh Generation agrees with me – my wife is at the top of the list!