The products-many of which are already available at Home Depot and are just being labeled differently-include all-natural insect repellents, front-load washing machines, organic plant food and vegetables in biodegradable pots. They fall into one of five categories: clean air, water conservation, energy efficiency, healthy home and sustainable forestry. To be an "Eco Option," the products must either meet Home Depot's definition of environmental soundness or get the thumbs-up from an independent environmental auditor.
"The launch will capitalize on the growing trend of consumers embracing environmentalism and seeking ways to protect the environment," the company says. It also adds Home Depot to the ranks of retailers, especially supermarkets, working harder to integrate environmentally friendly brands throughout stores rather than segregating them all in one department.
Despite its impressive eco-resume, which includes its support of the Conservation Fund's Go Zero program to offset carbon emissions, its spending on urban redevelopment and tree planting, and its 1999 wood- purchasing policy, which swore off wood harvested in vulnerable areas, Home Depot still has plenty of critics in the environmental movement. As one of the biggest big-box stores, it is routinely targeted by those objecting to sprawl, who argue that Home Depot's 2,100-plus stores and massive sales ($90.8 billion in 2006) threaten local economies.
Still, it's hard to argue with Home Depot's environmental clout: As part of its Eco Options launch, the company also said it will give away 1 million CFL bulbs at its stores on Earth Day this Sunday. "Replacing 1 million incandescent bulbs with CFLs will result in savings of $12 million in annual energy costs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 147 million pounds," the company says. Last year alone, Home Depot sold more than 50 million CFL bulbs.