Lean, Green, Mainstream

Years ago, the phrase “green business” conjured up images of  cute, little boutiques and small, environmentally-minded retailers. But the scene changed once big-box chains like Wal-Mart, Gap, and Pottery Barn ecofied their merchandise.

Today, another retail behemoth made a splash in the green arena.

Home Depot, the renowned home improvement chain and America’s second largest retailer (Wal-Mart is the first), introduced a new label today for the store’s 3,000 green products. The “Eco Options” tag brands items as earth-friendly, and lets customers know which goods are suited for improving homes as well as the environment.

From a New York Times article:

Merchandise can qualify for the new line in two ways. It either meets widely accepted federal and industry standards, like the Energy Star or the Forest Stewardship Council certification process, or its environmental claims are tested and validated by an outside company, Scientific Certification Systems. Ultimately, Home Depot, rather than a third party, determines what products will receive an Eco Options label.

Some Eco Options merchandise includes organic plant food, low-VOC glass cleaner, energy-efficient window and door sealant, and of course, compact fluorescent bulbs. Although many of these items lined Home Depot shelves before the label was introduced, branding products as Eco Options ensures that even the most oblivious Mr. or Mrs. Fix-Its look up from their shopping carts and notice the stash of environmentally friendly goods.

The company hopes that the number of Eco Options products available will double in the coming years.

The initiative—which is expected to include 6,000 products by 2009, representing 12 percent of the chain’s sales—would become the largest green labeling program in American retailing and could persuade competitors to speed up their own plans.

With any luck, Home Depot’s move will lead to eco-labeling at other notorious big businesses. “Green Pages” at paper mills, “Help the Earth Hamburgers” at fast food restaurants—the possibilities are endless.


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Issue 25

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