Hollywood, the city of make-believe, is the appropriate place to honor Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott. According to the Los Angeles Times, the giant retailer is being honored for selling more CDs and DVDs than anyone else, and that feat is being wrapped in a theme of “environmental sustainability.” Wal-Mart, which has paved over paradise across the nation, and left more than 350 stores empty at any one time, is being honored for its environmental sensitivity? That’s show business, folks. The meeting will not even take place in Hollywood, but atop the Rockefeller Center in New York City. Dinner guests will rock to the sounds of the Eagles at an event planned by movie producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein. The gala will be hosted by talk show host Charlie Rose, Bob Wright, head of NBC Universal, MTV creator Robert Pittman and investment banker Steven Rattner. Wal-Mart has announced policies to increasing recycling, reduce product packaging waste, reduce idling emissions from its trucks, etc. But at the community level, they are the most reviled retailer in the history of America, with thousands of neighborhoods changed by their enormous, wasteful footprint, and vast asphalt “parking fields.” There is nothing sustainable about building huge superstore 5 miles apart, and then shutting down hundreds of discount stores that sit idle on the roadside. There is nothing sustainable about covering over wetlands and streams to build your empire. Wal-Mart has been repeatedly fined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for damaging rivers and streams near its construction sites. Challenges to the company’s site plans often revolve around environmental damage to the surrounding area.
This event is not about waste reduction or air quality. It’s about CD and DVD sales, and honoring the people who make you money. Those same CDs that you see lying by the roadside, or smashed in a parking lot. This event is about economic sustainability. From the Mom and Pop merchant, to the Tower Record store — businesses across the country have been destroyed by Wal-Mart’s “sustainability.” Wal-Mart is the engine of these Hollywood businessmen’s profits, and the people honoring Wal-Mart at this self-congratulatory event have no idea what working families and neighborhoods think about what has happened to their communities, and how Wal-Mart has strong-armed their local officials into accepting increasingly large stores that do increasingly large harm to surrounding properties. In the land of entertainment, the one-eyed retailer is, apparently, King. Hollywood does not do minimum wage, or worry about health care. These are not the issues of sustainability that worries the business moguls who are fawning at the feet of the Wal-Mart economic model.