January 13, 2011

Wal*Mart Greenwashes Consumers Committing Environmental and Human Rights Violations with Love, Earth Jewelry Line

I've always been suspicious of any green claims by Wal*Mart. I just don't trust a company whose business model is based entirely on mass consumption of cheap Chinese-made goods and driving out competition from local shops (see How Walmart Is Destroying America (And the World): And What You Can Do about It). It is contrary to eco-friendly shopping in all regards!

Three years ago, I exposed Wal*Mart's Earth, Love jewelry line as greenwashing. Now, there is further evidence against the company that it has committed environmental and human rights violations in the Bolivian production of the jewelry line. Alternet reports:

The mines also rely on a controversial process called cyanide heap-leaching, which can result in one of the most toxic substances on Earth entering local water supplies. Indeed, the process is so problematic that it's been banned in Montana, and the European Union is considering a similar prohibition...

The story is a must-read--there's way more in it than I can explain here. But I asked Friedman-Rudovsky about pieces she wasn't able to include in the article--she talked about the impact of U.S. mining on surrounding communities, that the Love, Earth line promises to be community-friendly and engage with populations living on the territories or near the mines, but "there is a lot of documented evidence about how that's not necessarily true."

She added that workers in subcontracted factories don't receive aguinaldo, which she explained is like a Christmas bonus in Bolivia, except that it's legally mandated and should be ten percent of yearly earnings. She said one worker told her that she and friends are "so ashamed to be working in jobs where they don't get aguinaldo, they pull together to buy baskets with treats to bring home to pretend they did get the bonus."

Photo:  Attribution Some rights reserved by J from the UK

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Posted by Jennifer Lance at January 13, 2011 12:30 AM

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