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The People, Places and Things Changing Our World: The Good 100

October 13, 2009

If you haven’t heard of the company GOOD yet, you’re in for a real treat. GOOD is a media platform for all things (people, businesses, non-profits) making the world, well, good. They produce a website, magazine, blogs, live events and videos to bring a range of issues such as art & design, environment, politics and food to you. They’ve recently put together an incredible list called the Good 100 — a list of people, ideas, places and things that are changing the world. They’re adding 5 new entries to the list through October 22nd, but in the mean time, there are plenty of entries already posted to check out.

I have to say, when I first came across this, I had big expectations. The leaders in our efforts to change the world? No easy feat. So when I clicked on the first, and saw that they were giving credit to Walmart of all places, I nearly gave up all hope.

photo via flickrBut as I read on, I realized that Walmart has so much control over how we consume and what we consume that yes, maybe, they actually could make a substantial difference by implementing sustainability efforts. GOOD says this:

“The company has given itself three environmental mandates: to use only renewable energy, to produce zero waste, and to sell sustainable products. Progress on these has been stunningly fast: Wal-Mart is now the largest private producer of solar power in the United States, with nearly 40 stores fitted with photovoltaic arrays, and it’s working on a prototype store that will cut energy use by 25 to 30 percent; between 2005 and 2008, it increased its trucking efficiency by 38 percent, with plans to have it doubled by 2015; it’s working toward making all of its appliances Energy Star-rated; yearly, it spends $500 million on energy-efficient technology; and it’s now developing a scorecard to rate the sustainability of its suppliers.”

Maybe bigness in this case could actually help propel sustainability efforts forward instead of hindering their success? If a company such as Wal-Mart with all of its power over consumers and suppliers makes ‘going green’ a priority and actually acts on these goals, other companies will follow. It not only makes sense for their image but for their bottom line as well. Reducing energy costs, building more efficient stores, developing a method for transparency from their suppliers will save them money, and they definitely value those savings.

My other favorite from the list (and there are so many good ones to choose from) is the incredible town of Bundanoon, Australia’s choice to ban sales of bottled water.

photo via Here Be Dragons flickr

GOOD says that their reasons were part environmental, but that they also hated the idea of their local tap water being collected, bottled two hours north in Sydney, then trucked back down to be sold back to Bundanoon’s residents. Bundanoon is installing public water fountains and offering free refills of bottles in an effort to keep the water flowing locally. Fantastic!

Check out some of the other innovators and ideas on GOOD’s list, and let me know what you think. Do you disagree with any of GOOD’s choices? What are your favorites?

photos via flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/herebedragons/2516934550/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/cityhunter12/1435437390/

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