Is Walmart Ethical (Staff, Clothing, Sustainability, Wages, Sweatshops + More)

Major retail chains around the world are under increasing pressure from consumers to adopt ethical and environmentally-friendly practices due to their large social impact.

Since Walmart is one of the largest retail chains in the U.S., you may be wondering – is Walmart ethical? Here is everything I’ve found out about Walmart’s corporate practices!

Is Walmart Ethical?

There are conflicting reports as to whether Walmart is an ethical brand. Walmart regularly contributes to local organizations and charities but pays its staff low wages without offering accessible health insurance plans. However, Walmart has expressed its aim to become more sustainable in the future.

If you want to learn more about whether Walmart is environmentally conscious, whether it capitalizes on sweatshop labor, and much more, keep on reading!

Is Walmart An Ethical Place To Shop?

Walmart is ethical to an extent, so it is ultimately up to you whether you shop there.

On the positive side, Walmart contributes financially to local charities such as the Higher Education Policy and Youth Build.

In fact, Forbes magazine published that Walmart is one of the biggest philanthropic companies in the United States.

Despite this, Walmart engages in unethical practices that increase air and water pollution while directly affecting the loss of natural habitats and ecosystems.

These unethical practices include building Walmart stores on land that was previously home to endangered and critical species.

Other than that, the company also abandons its store locations, leaving behind vacant buildings.

Does Walmart Use Sweatshops?

It has been previously reported that Walmart has used sweatshops and child labor for the production of its items.

In 2000, a factory in China that supplied Walmart was exposed for abusing its staff via beatings, paying incredibly low wages, and forcing the staff to work around 90 hours a week.

After news broke out of this treatment, Walmart canceled its contractual agreement with the factory.

Walmart also canceled contracts with suppliers based in Burma, Bangladesh, and Nicaragua. Each of these locations was rumored to house sweatshop-based factories.

What Are Walmart’s Ethical Issues?

The following ethical issues have landed Walmart in some bad press concerning its engagement with environmentally-conscious practices:

  • Paying staff low wages and actively striving to keep these wages low
  • Not providing accessible or affordable health insurance plans for its staff
  • Using lands for its stores that are frequently placed upon virgin land (which is home to several microcosms and ecosystems)
  • Walmart’s increasing need for meat products has caused many farmers to be displaced by larger corporations, which is against “sustainable agriculture”

What Is Walmart’s Code Of Ethics?

What Is Walmart's Code Of Ethics?

Walmart does not have a set code of ethics that it has made available to the public.

However, it does have a code of conduct that it instills into every aspect of its business, which includes the following principles:

  • Respect for the individual
  • Strive for excellence
  • Provide for the customer
  • Act with integrity

How Much Money Has Walmart Donated To Charity?

In the past, Walmart has reportedly donated over 500 million dollars to local charities and not-for-profit organizations in the United States.

This figure has been calculated using the following sets of data provided by Walmart FYE:

  • From 2008 to 2009, Walmart increased its contribution to local organizations from $296 million to $378 million
  • In 2009, Walmart contributed $45.5 million to international markets and charities, which was up from the reported $41 million in 2007
  • On a global scale, customers of Walmart and its associates donated upwards of $106 million as a result of in-store donation schemes and charity programs
  • In 2010, Walmart predicted it would pass 1.5 million hours in its volunteering schemes, with both staff and customers taking part

Is Walmart’s Clothing Made Ethically?

Walmart has been reported to source its clothes from factories that do not treat their staff ethically.

For example, The Business Insider found that Walmart was still sourcing items of clothing from a Bangladeshi-based factory called Mars Apparels.

In 2011, Walmart announced that it had canceled its contract with Mars Apparels since the garment company was exposed for forcing staff into working long hours with very little pay.

Despite this, the owners of the Bangladeshi factory confirmed that they were still doing business with Walmart two years after Walmart announced it had terminated the contract.

This news was confirmed by the U.S. shipping records. As a result of this, it is increasingly difficult to say that Walmart’s clothing is made ethically.

What Are Walmart’s Sustainability Efforts And Aims?

Walmart has now published the following set of aims that detail its efforts toward a more sustainable future for the business:

  • Source goods responsibly
  • Eliminate unnecessary emissions
  • Cut down on waste
  • Restore nature and ecosystems
  • Sell sustainable products
  • Decarbonize the company

What Has Walmart Done To Increase Its Sustainability?

Walmart has engaged in the following actions to increase its level of sustainability:

  • Installing solar and wind energy
  • Diverting 81% of its waste from ending up in a landfill in 2020
  • Becoming a regenerative company

If you are looking to learn more about Walmart, you might also be interested in reading up on whether or not Walmart is unionized, Walmart’s target market, and why people hate Walmart.


Walmart conjures up mixed reviews when it comes to discussing its ethical engagement.

However, what is clear is that Walmart is fully engaged in becoming a sustainable and ethical company in the future.

By 2025, Walmart aims to only use 100% recyclable and compostable brand packaging for its products.

Additionally, Walmart hopes to achieve its zero emissions target by 2040 and reach the use of 100% renewable energy by 2035.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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