One area where it’s common to see people from completely different backgrounds and belief systems come together is in the realm of environmentalism. A perfect example is the recent upheaval over Walmart’s electronic waste recycling program…or lack thereof. In this instance, high-ranking church, synagogue, and temple leaders and members are teaming up to incite change in the sales titan’s disposal policy, which has turned its back on the environmental pleas of the community.
Walmart’s current procedure for “recycling” used electronics consists of sending the items in question overseas to scrap companies in developing nations, outfits whose legitimacy remains utterly unverified. Most, if not all, of these pieces ultimately wind up in mass landfills where they cause and exacerbate major environmental problems, obstinately affecting the soil and water resources of the local population.
U.S. citizens are taking action, and over one hundred leaders and clergy members of various faiths all over the country have rallied with an open letter to the corporation demanding the implementation of a better recycling program. Other major companies, like Office Depot, Staples, and Best Buy, as well as manufacturers like Dell and Sony, have all made huge strides toward green recycling methods, and Walmart’s rapid fall behind in environmental consciousness has officially put them on the public scaffold.
Signatories of the letter to Walmart want the corporation to adopt a strategy similar to that of its competitors. Best Buy’s free take-back program, for instance, boasts “We’ll recycle just about any electronics, including TVs, DVD players, computer monitors, audio and video cables, cell phones, and more.” The company’s recycling process functions as an assembly line wherein all the different materials from various electronic parts are separated, cleaned (without toxic chemical agents or water) and broken down to be rebuilt into other commodities like tools, appliances, furniture and playground equipment, new electronics or batteries, and even jewelry.
With activists from the Texas Campaign for the Environment sending nearly 40,000 letters to Walmart since mid-2011, renowned faith leaders are striking while the iron is hot with their Open Letter, demanding that Walmart reduce its heavy footprint and adopt more earth-friendly programs. Respected figures, like Princeton University professor Cornell West and founder of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science Fazlun Khalid, have ardently supported the move and will undoubtedly see the enterprise through to its hopefully positive conclusion.
Even though massive multi-national corporations like Walmart are several steps behind their retail colleagues in global awareness and improvement, retailers like Best Buy, manufacturers like Dell, and electronic scrap recycling centers like Cash for Electronic Scrap USA are working to preserve the future of the environment.