In Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Thomas Freidman says that while we speak of a ‘green revolution’ there have been no protest or petitions showing a true fight for change, rather it has been more of a green party where the words ‘green’ ‘eco’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ are thrown around without any quantitative understanding of the changes that needs to be made (2009:251). Until recently, ‘green’ seems to have revolved around marketing ideas like the ’10 easy steps to going green’ (Friedman, 2009: 249), but the needed change requires lifestyle modifications from deep within our societal paradigms. Is it possible to begin this sustainable revolution at a corporate level? Or is this movement doomed to be a marketing ploy?
This report will analyze the relationship between mass retail and sustainability in order to provide insight into the future of sustainability as more than a marketing tool. It will first look at sustainability in the beginning of mass production during the Industrial Revolution and the contrast that existed between the two, then it will lead into the emergence of sustainability into the supply chain which has been unseen since before the Industrial Revolution. It will include a brief overview of companies’ initiatives in sustainability and the extent to which it has been integrated from the time the ‘green revolution’ began until present. Utilizing Wal‐Mart, the largest supplier of clothing in the United States and largest retailer in the world (Fishman, 2006:29), the report will discuss the slow integration of sustainability throughout their business practices. Finally, the report will discuss the potential impact mass retailers can have in promoting environmental awareness and sustainable actions.