Sustainability

Notes from the Milestone Meeting

When Walmart began our sustainability journey, I never thought it would lead us to trucks like this.

We’re just beginning formal testing, but this Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience concept truck will be 20 percent more aerodynamic than our current trucks and have a micro-turbine hybrid powertrain that can run on diesel, natural gas, biodiesel and probably other fuels still to be developed. It may never make it to the road, but it will allow us to test new technologies and new approaches. I share it because it gives you a sense of how sustainability is helping us see things in new ways.

This was just one of the innovations we discussed at our Sustainability Milestone Meeting on Monday. We also talked about new ideas around less photogenic topics like air filters, buttons, and even landfills. By seeing through the lens of sustainability, we are accelerating the pace of innovation across our business.

We also heard from several leaders in our company about the progress we’re making against our goals to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain people and the environment.

A few thoughts after my first Milestone Meeting as CEO:

Leaning in on Products
We’re going to continue the good work around energy and waste while really leaning in on products. As we grow to a planet of 9 billion people who all want to live like we do, Walmart needs to provide access to food, clothing, and household goods that are sustainable for the planet at prices people can afford. It’s a huge challenge, but it’s right in line with our mission of saving people money so they can live better.

Thinking Holistically
We need more whole systems thinking. One of the great things about sustainability is that it helps you step back and see the big picture. Our responsibility to the planet is about more than the time a product is in our store. It’s about how it was grown or manufactured, how it was transported, and whether it can be reused or recycled. I especially want to thank the suppliers, NGOs, other retailers, and community members who attended on Monday because this type of effort takes all of us working together.

Caring about People
Sustainability is ultimately about people. Peter Seligmann from Conservation International joined us to share what his group is working on. They have a bold new campaign that will shake people up by pointing out that people need nature more than nature needs us. And they’re right. As a father, one of my “a-ha” moments around sustainability occurred when talking to my sons at the dinner table years ago when they were just boys. I asked them if Walmart should lead on sustainability, and they replied: “Duh, dad.” They’re going to need this planet long after I will.

Sharing the Excitement
Finally, I was reminded that this is important work but it can still be fun. I love innovating for our customers. I love seeing our organization get passionate about big issues. I love the difference Walmart can make. We had so many people from across the business stand up and share the projects they’re working on, and their enthusiasm is contagious.

It’s an exciting time to be at Walmart. We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we’re working hard every day to get better.

23 Comments

Life

#FiveThingsFriday: A Young Santa Claus, Equality Honors, and Hatchimals are Hot

ICYMI: A kiddo Claus gives back, a Walmart bike makes a memory, cops bring Christmas to kids, the Human Rights Campaign recognizes Walmart, and Hatchimals are coming back to shelves.

Santa Kid

Our littlest customers turn out to have the biggest hearts. A few months ago we talked about Madalyyn’s benevolent birthday and now Noah Vinot is demonstrating the true meaning of Christmas. Noah is 7 years old and raised more than $500 to buy gifts for kids in need; he even chipped in all of his birthday money. We were so inspired by Noah’s generosity that we matched the funds he raised, allowing him to purchase five carts full of merchandise for local children.

Cruisin’ the Katy Trail

We all know we should get out and enjoy nature more, but LaWanka Mallard has a head start that will put many to shame. LaWanka’s friend Vickie set a goal to bike the 238-mile Katy Trail in Missouri, and she decided to tag along. So, not only did LaWanka set out to do this at age 74 – she did it on an old-fashioned cruiser bike that she picked up at Walmart for less than $90 … while Vickie pedaled along on her fancier 24-speed bike. Reading their story is pretty inspiring. However, I don’t know if I’m ready to start out on 238 miles on my cruiser. Maybe 238 feet and then work my way up.

Shop With a Cop

Noah, our Santa Kid, isn’t the only one demonstrating the true spirit of Christmas. Across the country, police departments are bringing kids into their local Walmart stores to shop for Christmas for themselves and their families. From Texas to Maryland, officers are accompanying dozens of kids and spreading a little extra cheer.

Standing for Inclusion

Walmart’s culture is built around four basic beliefs, and “Respect for the Individual” is one of those. We’re proud to embrace the unique qualities our associates bring to the company and we’re honored to receive a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2017 Corporate Equality Index. It’s important that we create an inclusive environment for our associates around the world and we’ll continue to work toward that commitment.

Hot Toy Hatching

If you have children, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts they’re asking for a Hatchimal for Christmas. I have several grown adults in my office that are going mad trying to track one down for their kids, and according to the news they’re not the only ones. This hot toy, that is just like that one scene from a classic dinosaur movie, is coming back in stock at Walmart stores across the nation this week. So, keep an eye out and happy hunting!

Be the first to comment on this article

Sustainability

How Acres for America is Maintaining the Majestic Midwest

For generations, Midwesterners have retreated to the Arcadia Dunes preserve – an oasis along Lake Michigan – to connect with nature, climb the sand peaks and take in the enormity of America’s third-largest lake.

The 3,600-acre property, also known as the C.S. Mott Nature Preserve, offers public access to one of the largest remaining natural areas along Lake Michigan. There, visitors can partake in some of the Midwest’s best opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, birding and snowshoeing.

Back in 2003, the property’s owners planned to develop the land into a golf-course community with hundreds of homes and condominiums.

“That would have had a domino effect,” said Glen Chown, longtime executive director of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, which owns and manages the property. “The development would have led to hundreds of additional homes nearby. Farming would have most likely been pushed out. There would be no public access anywhere.”

The conservancy led a massive campaign to raise more than $30 million to acquire Arcadia Dunes and secure conservation easements on other nearby properties. People rallied to the cause.

Through a combination of gifts large and small, the conservancy and its conservation partners raised nearly all of the required funds. To close the last gap, the conservancy applied for and in 2006 was awarded a $500,000 grant from Acres for America, a collaboration between Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

“The Acres for America grant helped us at a time when we had pretty much exhausted every opportunity,” Chown said. “Acres was our closer.”

Acres for America began in 2005, when Walmart made its first commitment of $35 million to purchase and preserve one acre of wildlife habitat in the United States for every acre of land developed by the company – approximately 100,000 acres as of today. The Arcadia Dunes project was one of the program’s earliest grants.

Ten years after the Arcadia Dunes grant was awarded, Acres for America has far surpassed its original goal with more than 1 million acres protected – an area comparable in size to Grand Canyon National Park. In November 2015, Walmart and NFWF announced a 10-year, $35 million renewal of the program.

By offsetting the land Walmart needs to operate with far more valuable land – both to wildlife and to people – the Acres for America program is making a real difference in the quality of life for local communities across the nation.

The preservation of places such as Arcadia Dunes show why Acres for America has become one of the most successful public-private conservation efforts in American history.

1 Comment

Business

When it Comes to Holiday Cheer, Ugly Sweaters Aren’t Wearing Out

A few years back, it was easy to dismiss ugly holiday sweaters as a fad. But this trend has not only taken root – it's stronger and tackier than ever.

The reason is simple: People are looking for happiness and joy during the holidays, and these sweaters make people smile. They spark conversation at parties. They’re fun – and we all need more fun in our lives.

Each year, we’ve seen this new December staple get uglier and more unexpected. And, while Walmart has been front and center in providing affordable, fun options for customers to purposefully “ugly” up their holiday wardrobes, we’ve gone all out this year.

We not only increased the volume of ugly sweaters in our stores, we added several with fun features. Some have working Christmas lights. Some of our sweaters – including a reindeer print – even sing to you. And since November, the women’s elf sweater dress we created has been flying off the shelves as fast as we’ve been able to stock it.

We’ve also ventured beyond the traditional adult sweater. We have a line of ugly sweater-themed T-shirts, with everything from Christmas trees and snowflakes, to gingerbread zombies and Star Wars characters, for men, women and children. We’re even offering ugly holiday sweaters for dogs.

I have to tell you, as a buyer and as a part of the team responsible for creating these sweaters, it was an absolute blast bringing some of these wacky ideas to life. The whole process of adding functioning lights into clothing, battery packs for sound and more – every detail mattered. We knew people would be talking about those items, but we also had to make sure it was going to be easy to remove and reinstall those components before and after the sweaters go through the washing machine. They’re fun but still functional.

We looked at all the details, like, is Santa’s nose pointing the right direction? Is it ugly in the right way? You want to turn heads, but you also want to be sure you're creating options that a teacher feels good about wearing in front of a class, for example.

So we’re proud of what we’ve created and thrilled by the positive response from customers. We’ve even heard about people doing ugly holiday sweater fashion shows. Supporting this tacky tradition is one way we’re helping make the holidays affordable, while also putting a smile on customers’ faces. And it makes our jobs a whole lot of fun.

Be the first to comment on this article

Business

The Pie Chart: Sweet Stats on America’s Favorite Flavors

For many, dessert is the best part of the meal. It’s that special treat that can brighten up any day.

During the holiday season, sweets get a whole new spotlight. Pies in particular can be found on many families’ tables from Thanksgiving through Christmas all the way until year’s end.

Last year, pies at Walmart gained new celebrity appeal with the release of Patti LaBelle’s signature sweet potato recipe. Thanks to a viral video – and pleased palates across America – they have been a hit ever since.

All of this talk about pies got our minds (and stomachs) wondering. With seemingly unlimited pie flavors, we wanted to know which one reigns supreme with our customers’ taste buds. We took a look at our last year of sales, and put together a pie chart (see what we did there) to show the results.

Be the first to comment on this article