Wal-Mart has a bright idea

The ill-reputed company has set a goal of selling 100 million compact fluoresent bulbs by 2008.

There is an ongoing increase of interest in reducing energy use across the nation, and there are more reasons than having a low energy bill this time around. Americans are realizing that their personal energy use today will have a tremendous effect on the environmental picture in the future.

So why is Wal-Mart, America’s biggest retailer, having a hard time selling energy-saving light bulbs?

Although compact fluorescent bulbs use one-fourth the energy of incandescent bulbs, the initial selling price is nearly eight times more expensive. Also, there is mercury in the fluorescent lamps that requires consumers recycle used bulbs rather than tossing them in the trash. Many consumers also feel that the appearance of the bulbs is unattractive and that the light the bulbs give off is harsh.

Although the initial expense for compact fluorescent bulbs is significantly higher than traditional bulbs, the lower energy bills they result in make it worth the investment. Over the life of a single bulb, users will save about $30 in energy costs. Imagine how much could be saved if all household light bulbs used most regularly were replaced by compact fluorescents. Also, the bulbs last 10 times longer than their traditional alternative does.

The energy-saving bulbs are nothing new. They were brought onto the market in 1979, but because of their price and appearance, have been left to collect dust on store shelves.

Now, Wal-Mart is working with environmental groups, light bulb manufacturers and the federal government to make the bulbs more accessible and appealing to consumers. The retailer has set a goal of selling 100 million compact fluorescent bulbs by 2008, doing so by moving them to prime selling shelf space, working with producers to lower prices and promotions.

There is no doubt that Wal-Mart is trying to patch up their reputation. Considering Wal-Mart’s influence on millions of American households’ shopping lists, their goal is within reach. Wal-Mart has finally formed an initiative that will use their power to help people save money while helping to save the environment.