Will the $82 million fine change Wal-Mart's behavior? Somewhat I expect, but why do they have to get caught doing something bad before they act responsibly. This May, Wal-Mart was fined $82 million for dumping hazardous waste in the trash or down the drain. The New York Times reported that Wal-Mart also was taking returned pesticides and having them processed for re-sale without a permit. This company makes big bucks, and they know they can't dump hazardous waste in the trash, down the drain, or repackage pesticides for sale without a permit. If they didn't train their underpaid, under-employed, and under-insured employees to do proper waste management, then that is Wal-Mart's fault. I don't know if the $82 million fine matched the savings of illegally dumping hazardous waste into our water system or selling us re-packaged pesticide, but I hope so.
I know some might not think this topic is entirely relevant to this blog about your own cupboards--except it is! We need to change our habits of buying toxic products so we're not polluting our bodies, our family members' bodies, our pets, or the environment. And we should be supporting companies that do the same. I don't expect box stores to stop selling Proctor & Gamble toxic products--that's too big to ask of chain stores that rely on cheap goods that we, yes we, demand from the store.
The only way we can get them to change is to stop buying their crappy products. Can we make a difference? Yes. This September, Wal-Mart agreed to begin reducing it's products with certain toxins. According to USA Today, prodding by health and environmental advocates caused Wal-Mart to act. It's a big deal, but it's just a start.
We can send a message to retailers by not purchasing items with toxic ingredients. We can start by cleaning our homes with white vinegar, baking soda, and other non-toxic products.
Really, we can make a difference.