Weird times. Business is good for the environment

Truly. I know that the tipping point has arrived. The United States is on its way to becoming a nation serious about preserving the environment.

Now, if you're wondering if I'm about to tell you that our government has initiated some comprehensive plan for fighting pollution, no, of course not. You'd know about that already. It would be the big story on every cable news station, and in every paper, most of the front pages probably emblazoned with the headline, "Hell Freezes Over..."

No, if you notice, these days, real policy change comes from within the business community first.Seriously. For instance, for all of the criticism of Wal-Mart, the retailing behemoth is making a big point of selling recycled and pro-environmental products, and lately, although it's had a recent public relations disaster in health care, it has been improving its health insurance plan. Maybe it's because politicians only have to face the voters every couple years or so that they don't have to think about pesky little things like health insurance and saving the environment; stores have to face the paying, or "voting," public every hour of every day.

And now the two latest pro-environment changes... Toys-R-Us and Burger King.

Toys "R" Us is currently unleashing a line of environmentally friendly toys with the motto, "Recycle, Renew, Reuse, Re-think" and promoting the playthings by telling kids to have "good green fun."

Come this April 22, Earth Day, at every Toys "R" Us across America, children will be able to play with natural wooden toys, natural cotton plush animals and organic cotton dolls. (Of course, last year's rash of recalls from China, when you suddenly had to wonder if that toy gun really would lead to death, may have something to do with this.)

In July Burger King will package its Kids Meals in bags made from 100% recycled materials. In addition, the beverage cups ordered with Kids Meals will be 10% recycled.

Stay tuned. If the public keeps asking for it, there are many more pro-environment changes to come, at least from our business leaders.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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