Retailer encourages farmers to make transition from conventional to organic cotton
BENTONVILLE, Ark. – April 7, 2008 – Wal-Mart today announced it will feature Earth Month t-shirts made from transitional cotton in support of farmers making the change from conventional farming to the organic process. The retailer purchased more than 12 million pounds of transitional cotton that will arrive in stores for the first time this month under its exclusive Faded Glory brand. Additional product made with transitional cotton will appear on Wal-Mart shelves in the months ahead.
“Wal-Mart’s support of transitional cotton stems from our understanding of the financial implications for farmers who adopt labor-intensive organic farming methods and complements our commitment to eco-friendly products and sustainable supplier practices,” said Kim Brandner, brand manager – sustainable products, Wal-Mart. “By doing so, we are also helping our customers live better by easily being able to include ‘eco-essentials’ on their everyday shopping list.”
Wal-Mart has purchased transitional cotton from approximately 1,000 farmers at the same premium cost of certified organic cotton, without passing along increased costs to consumers. Because this cotton is produced on fields in the process of becoming organic, chemicals may still be apparent in the soil, preventing farmers from certifying crops as organic. Farmers who have adopted organic practices typically harvest transitioning crops for up to three years. Wal-Mart’s transitional cotton commitment for product arriving in the month of April alone has saved more than six tons of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides from entering the earth.
“To grow the organic cotton industry, we need to support the farmers who are moving from conventional to organic farming,” says LaRhea Pepper, Executive Director of the Organic Cotton Exchange and organic cotton supplier to Wal-Mart. “Crop yields are typically lower and risks higher during the transition, so farmers are at financial risk. Programs like Wal-Mart’s help lessen the burden of farmers who want to adopt environmentally responsible practices.”
According to the Organic Cotton Exchange, for the second year in a row, Wal-Mart is the largest user of organic cotton in the world, having purchased more than 28 million pounds of organic cotton and an additional 12 million pounds of transitional cotton to date.
Alternative and organic fiber apparel and home products sales at Wal-Mart have increased by nearly 100 percent from 2006 to 2007 - a trend that has continued into 2008. As a result, Wal-Mart will feature Faded Glory attitude t-shirts made of transitional cotton in the newborn, infant, toddler, boys, girls, missy and men’s departments for the month of April, ranging in price from $3.50 to $6.00.
Other merchandise featured especially for Earth Month in stores and on Walmart.com includes ladies’ and juniors’ organic cotton sleepwear, organic cotton Earth Day t-shirts in juniors; and juniors’ and young men’s t-shirts made with RPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate), a material manufactured with recycled plastic.
Beginning April 2008, Wal-Mart stores will also feature men’s Athletic Works t-shirts made of recycled polyester. Every pound of recycled polyester saves 61,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs), which is the same energy output as half a gallon of gas. Based on anticipated sales, the energy savings impact for April alone would be the equivalent of 800,000 gallons of gas.
About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, millions of customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $296 million to local United States communities. To learn more, visit www.walmartstores.com, www.walmart.com, or www.walmartfoundation.org.
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