Sustainable Standards: What are the Consumer’s Opinions?

Posted by on Oct 13, 2009

On October 1, Wal Mart asked its 100,000 suppliers to fill out 15 questions relating to their sustainability. It was just a request, but in doing so it set an expectation of what is to come – manufacturers will be expected to answer harder and harder questions about their sustainable attributes. Wal Mart and its BBFs (Big Box Friends) have created a consortium to set a Sustainable Index for the world.

I have a question for Wal Mart, why aren't consumers part of your consortium? They don't have $250,000 for the entry fee or even the $25,000 you're asking the small businesses to pay, they've been priced out, yet consumers are 100% of the retail consortium's buyer base. Don't their opinions count? Shouldn't the buyers of your products get a say in helping you form this developing standard with global implications? [the entry fee has been lowered since this was published - MH 11.1.09]

This month's Green Mom Carnival was inspired by this gap in communications. What do the carnivalites think about Wal Mart's and friends Sustainability Index? When should we have standards and what do we want included? 

NEW Beth Terry on Fake Plastic Fiswas late to the carnival, but her post is so on-target with the concerns and issues that this retail consortium's creates. If you have one post to read, read her's. Then read the rest and get the background and additional viewpoints. Wal Mart is right about one thing, this is bigger than just them - it's about all of us

Eco Baby Steps did a bang up job of defining what standards, certifications, seals and more are and are not. Start with this blog to get your base of operations on this confusing world of standards. 

Katy at Non-Toxic Kids just submitted her post explaining the consortium players and connections. Because it goes hand-in-hand with the above, I'm adding her to the top of the submissions.

Over on Citizen Green the subject of having a standard for green events is addressed. I'm with ya. Have you ever seen a street after the parade or attended a trade show? The pile of leftover litter is so unnecessary. Be sure to catch her tip list before you manage your next event. 

Ambejoins as newbie this month to the Green Mom Carnival, her first post on Wal Mart's Sustainability Index can be found here. Her readers had a very strong pro/con reaction, some even thought that Wal Mart planted responses! 

Karen has her say over over on Best of Mother Earth. You remember Karen, she's the one who ranted about a 12 year old McDonald's hamburger that never rotted and the post went viral? In this post she expresses the skepticism and fear many of us feel about standards and their ilk. 

Diane on Big Green Purse has been a strong advocate of standards for years. Her summary will make you think twice about the labels you follow now. She wants the standards that do stand the test of public opinion to be meaningful. 

Erin adds a very poignant view and coordinating story that brings home the message of engagement and participation in the new standards – read it for a look inward at yourself. 

One of the originators of the Green Mom Carnival, Lynn (Organicmania), extends the conversation on the lack of consumer participation in the sustainability index. Lynn's a long time supporter of the Wal Mart sustainability direction, read her reaction here.  

This is a very globe reaching subject. My thanks to the women who take their high standards seriously and hope that the retail giants of the world do as well. Please visit their thoughtful posts and leave your comments. 

8 Comments

  1. Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

  2. As much as I say “Use Your Purse,” we can’t really use our purses effectively without having meaningful standards to help us make informed choices. I encourage consumers to weigh in on the important discussions Wal-Mart is having — and then to support products that meet high standards once they’re finally issued.

  3. Thank you Mary for hosting this month’s green mom’s carnival and more so for always asking awesome questions.

  4. Thanks Mary for this very important post-I have passed it along to several people–

  5. Thanks to all for your comments. I hope the Universities that are taking part will take notice and include the green consumer voice into their mix. If we’re good enough for product focus groups, we’re good enough the Sustainability Index.

  6. Mary, thank you for challenging me to learn about a topic I really hadn’t given much thought to. Thank you for working so hard to help create meaningful standards in this world and to help the rest of us understand what the heck they are about. You are NEEDED on the Green Moms Carnival!

  7. Another standard, another day. What about what we think? Is this big business as usually? So, is it pay to play all over again?

  8. Good question, consensus formed standards are required to have a multi-stake holder comment period, but consumers have never been viewed upon as a group before. Its high time they were.

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