Student Postby Stephanie Gold
Today, it seems that everywhere we go we hear about companies and retailers trying to do something for the environment. Whether it's Wal-Mart installing solar panels to power everything from the store lighting to the refrigerator section or a small local grocery store installing energy saving light bulbs, it is clear that retailers are beginning to focus on environmental issues across the globe. Some argue that these companies are "going green" because they understand the severity of the global warming problem while others insist that they are motivated by the financial incentives. Regardless of their motivations, the question still remains as to whether or not consumers are affected by eco-friendly companies. This month, Frito-Lay announced their new "Net Zero" plan, where it will completely change the way its factories work and move toward creating an environmentally friendly potato chip. The company will have to run the factory almost completely off of recycled water and renewable fuels if it wishes to achieve its goal of taking the Casa Grande plant off of the power grid. Frito-Lay estimates that this project, which should be completed by 2010, will reduce its water and electricity consumption by roughly ninety percent and greenhouse gas emissions by anywhere from fifty to seventy five percent. Today, many consumers are concerned about global warming and other climate issues, and companies such as Frito Lay are hoping to use this concern to its advantage by marketing its products as environmentally friendly. A great example of this is Frito Lay's marketing of Sun Chips as eco-friendly snacks made entirely with solar energy. As oils prices continue to soar and approach $100 a barrel, we would expect to see other companies follow in the footsteps of Frito-Lay, as a way of appealing to more consumers and reducing their energy bills. If retailers can truly commit to helping the environment, educated consumers will support their efforts by choosing their products over the competition. By making environmentally friendly options available at reasonable prices and educating consumers about the effect their shopping habits can have on the environment, large changes can be made. Whether or not these changes are significant enough to change the predictions for the future is still to be seen, but it is clear that the green potato chip is no longer considered such a bad thing.