What makes Wal-Mart such a good example of scalability is not just its size, but the principles underlying its actions, such as mainstreaming sustainability, measuring total impacts, empowering customers, working with suppliers and setting audacious goals. The lesson of history is that the ‘ethical consumer’ is the enemy of progress!
That may seem like a crazy thing to say, but here is why I say it. Simply put, by creating a premium-priced, niche market for ‘ethical consumption’ (whether it be organic, fairtrade or eco-friendly), companies have been able to present a responsible front to the world, while leaving the vast majority of their products – which are, by implication, less than ethical – unquestioned and unchanged. At the same time, a small group of usually well-to-do Western consumers have been able to ease their conscience by feeling that they are making a positive difference.