Trickle-down Ecology

Green Revolution in Arkansas

National newspapers report that northwest Arkansas is conducting a huge eco-experiment that regional advocates believe will make it a Green Valley icon of sustainability. It all started when Wal-Mart—a company virtually synonymous with suburban sprawl—announced its intent to become a green enterprise. Now communities all around the giant’s Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters are welcoming an influx of green technology start-ups and satellite offices of merchandise suppliers eager to keep up with their VIP client.

When Wal-Mart Chief Executive H. Lee Scott Jr. told hundreds of suppliers at a screening of Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth that products’ environmental impact would affect corporate purchases, the ball started to roll. A $1.5 million corporate grant to the University of Arkansas also is priming the pump through a new Applied Sustainability Center. Skeptics of the big-box retail scene hope for the best.

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