Wal-Mart Does the Right Thing (Again)

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Some members of the Democratic Party sure picked a strange year to make Wal-Mart a campaign issue. Wal-Mart, as we recently reported, is opening up to the gay community. Wal-Mart is pushing organic food.

Now it's going even greener.

Writing for Fast Company, "The Wal-Mart Effect" author Charles Fishman reportson the progress made in compact fluorescent lightbulbs and the enormous energy savings they produce. And, pushing the new technology is, you guessed it, Wal-Mart. This time, it's working with that other corporate boogeyman, GE:

In the next 12 months, starting with a major push this month, Wal-Mart wants to sell every one of its regular customers--100 million in all--one swirl bulb. In the process, Wal-Mart wants to change energy consumption in the United States, and energy consciousness, too. It also aims to change its own reputation, to use swirls to make clear how seriously Wal-Mart takes its new positioning as an environmental activist.

It's a bold goal, a remarkable declaration of Wal-Mart's intention to modernize and green up a whole line of business using market oomph. Teaming up with General Electric, which owns about 60% of the residential lightbulb market in the United States, Wal-Mart wants to single-handedly double U.S. sales for CFLs in a year, and it wants demand to surge forward after that.

No doubt, Wal-Mart will once again be accused of cynical ploys to make a buck (because being green should never be profitable), but the fact is that when a company the size of Wal-Mart makes such a move it makes a noticeable impact (which is one of the less-publicized reasons health-care proponents go after the retailer).

Of course, Wal-Mart's detractors will still grouse about non-unionized work forces and everyday low wages, attack it for false advertising and accuse it of killing babies.