Sustainability

What's Bringing President Obama To Walmart?

It’s not the everyday low prices. No, not even professional family photos with Bo and Sunny. It’s about businesses making smart decisions about energy.

Today, the President will visit Mountain View, California’s Walmart to announce big news for solar power and energy efficiency. Walmart is already a commercial leader in solar installations, but is committing to double the number of panels on its store roofs in the next six years, harnessing 7 million GWh of clean energy by 2020. But not just Walmart thinks solar power is great idea. Today the President is announcing 300 private and sector commitments to advance solar deployment, representing 850 MW of electricity, enough to power 130,000 homes. The industry is growing at breakneck speed, and President Obama is directing his Administration to ensure the American workforce can keep up the momentum.

Since Obama took office, the U.S. had just 1.2 GW of solar capacity; today that number stands at a whopping 13 GW. That’s enough to power 2 million American homes. Not to mention, that’s 2 million fewer homes we have to power to polluting coal or natural gas.  The industry boasted more than 140,000 jobs in 2013, a 20% increase since the previous year. So what’s next for solar?

Clean Energy 101: The President will direct the Department of Energy to invest in community colleges in 49 states to prepare 50,000 students to enter the solar industry by 2020. Solar energy- whether its photovoltaic or thermal- is not only complex, but is becoming increasingly specialized as new technologies hit the market. From the 1,700 acre concentrated solar plant (CSP) in California to a 10’ x 10’ pair of photovoltaic panels on a rooftop in New Jersey, the growth of solar in the coming years will demand a diverse, skilled workforce. By developing the Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network, more Americans will have the exciting opportunity to be a part of the clean energy economy.

Sustainable Housing: The DoE and Department of Housing and Urban Development will partner to advance education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to bolster energy literacy and employment in low-income communities and public housing projects across the country.

Clarity and Consistency in the Tax Code: The DOE will be releasing an updated and revised Guide to Federal Financing for Clean Energy. This excellent tool assists Americans to identify energy efficiency and renewable financing programs in Federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Treasury and Environmental Protection Agency.

NRDC looks forward to being a part of the solar industry’s rapid growth. Last fall, we launched our Solar Schools program, an innovative way for communities from North Carolina to California to crowdfund solar projects on their local schools. To learn more, read NRDC Director of Renewable Policy Nathanael Greene’s blog on this exciting project. Our affiliate organization, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), is tracking the growth in the clean energy economy, noting where companies are hiring new workers to help manufacture solar panels and install PV systems on roofs. To see where solar is hiring in your state, please visit www.cleanenergyworksforus.org. Last year, E2 tracked more than 21,600 jobs announcements in solar generation alone!

But wait! Solar is just one of the President's exciting announcements today. Mr. Obama is also setting exciting new energy efficiency standards, that together with other efficiency standards that his administration has issued, will save a whopping 2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution through 2030. To get the inside scoop from an expert, check out my colleague Kit Kennedy's blog on how new efficiency standards will save our economy billions in the coming decade.

Our 100% clean energy future is on the horizon, let’s join our President and support its continued progress.

This post originally appeared on: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dmurray/whats_bringing_president_obama.html

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Life

Your Gifting Questions, Answered: Win the Holidays with This Handy Guide

Some people are easy to buy gifts for: yourself, for example, or your BFF. Others are a bit more … challenging. Fear not, Dear Reader, our fictional in-house advice columnist, Liza, is here to show you how to use the Walmart.com Holiday Gift Guide to satisfy the most perplexing recipients on your list, actual or hypothetical.

Q: Dear Liza, I never know what to get my father-in-law for Hannukah. He is the type of person who, if he wants something, just goes and buys it himself. Guys are so hard to buy for! Help! Sincerely, Joy

A: I hear you, Joy. I once bought my Dad a gift card, which I thought was a pretty safe bet, and he said he never shopped at that store and gave it back to me! The nerve! Fortunately, with Walmart’s gift guide, you can easily search “Gifts for Him” and narrow it down using what your father-in-law enjoys. For example, if he is into tech, pick up Google Home. If he always mans the grill at family get-togethers, the Gift Guide has a ton of options, too.

Q: Dear Liza, I’m spending the holidays with my cousin, and he and his wife have a baby. Social contract dictates that I should bring it some sort of gift. What do I get a baby? Diapers or something? Sincerely, Nick

A: While babies do often wear diapers, there is – quite reasonably – not a lot of data on whether or not they like them. We do know that babies enjoy toys they can touch and that have bright colors. Here’s what to do: Go to the Walmart Gift Guide. Click on “Gifts for Babies and Toddlers.” Peruse the options for toys, activities, and pajamas. For example, the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is great for children 6 to 12 months. You can have it shipped to you, or pick up in store. The little one will love it, and the parents will be so impressed, they’ll want you to babysit!
P.S. Parents don’t typically like it when you refer to their offspring as “it.”


Q: Dear Liza, We’re hosting Christmas this year, and that means I am in charge of stockings. This adds a new layer to my normal giving plan, especially because everyone in my family – all ages, from grandparents to kids – has a stocking to fill! Can you help? Sincerely, Noelle

A: I got you, girl. In addition to searching our Gift Guide by recipient (Gifts for Her, Gifts for Grandparents), you can also search by theme. One of these themes includes – you guessed it – stocking stuffers! Whether you pick up some makeup brushes for your niece or chocolate covered cherries for your grandpa, you can get everything you need to impress your family on Christmas morning. (Pro tip: If you’re working within a budget, the Gift Guide allows you to search by price as well.)

TL; DR: Whether you shop by recipient (e.g. your grandparents), hobby (the adventurer, the tech lover), or species (we have gifts for pets, too), the Walmart.com Holiday Gift Guide has your nice list covered this holiday season.

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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.

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Life

#FiveThingsFriday: Talking Turkey

ICYMI: An Oscar winner gives back, a Thanksgiving delivery in New York, recognition for reducing food waste, and the holiday shopping season kicks off.

Act of Kindness on Lane 7

Customer Sydney Gholston went into one of our Kentucky stores to purchase some Thanksgiving turkeys for the nonprofit she works for, but left with an unbelievable story to boot. While she was in line to pay, she struck up a conversation with a friendly gentleman who offered to pay for her order. The man? Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, who was in town filming a movie. It goes to show, you never know who you may run into in our stores!

Giving Back in New York

This week, we worked with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and several other companies to feed Thanksgiving dinner to more than 35,000 New Yorkers across the state. Each meal included turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, vegetables, cranberry sauce and potatoes. We were honored to be a part of this effort along with Wegmans, FreshDirect and The Coca-Cola Company.

Feeling Fancy?

One of the many reasons Walmart.com is great is the expanded assortment – the site offers additional items that aren’t available in store. But would you expect to find a Cartier watch or Prada pumps? You can now! These are just a small sampling of the luxury items you can find through our third-party Marketplace sellers. Earlier this year, our Marketplace had Air Yeezy’s for sale. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go update my Christmas wish list.

A Food Waste Champion

Food waste is a big issue in the U.S., with an estimated $29 billion thrown away each year. This week, we were excited to see that Walmart was named to the inaugural class of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions – an honor established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to recognize businesses and organizations that have committed to reduce food loss and waste in their operations 50% by 2030. We’ve been doing a number of things to help reduce food waste, including finding a use for fruits and vegetables that might be oddly shaped or have minor blemishes; switching date labels on our Great Value nonperishable products to a “Best if used by” format; and donating extra food to local food banks. Our goal is to reach 0% net waste and donate 4 billion meals by 2020.

Delivering Deals and Turkeys

By now, we’re tucking into leftovers and looking over the great deals we scored from Black Friday shopping. I’m most excited about the 55” plush bear I picked up. Our associates were in stores this week working hard to make sure families across the country had the items they needed to put on a great Thanksgiving feast, and they were ready for you when you came out to shop. This week, we sold 150 million pounds of turkey and ham, and televisions were once again one of the most popular items shopped. The only thing left to do is grab a nap before Cyber Monday kicks off!

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Life

At a Glance: Your Walmart Holiday Shopping Schedule

It’s time to put your holiday shopping game face on. And Walmart is ready to meet you – whether at our physical stores or from the comfort of your sofa via laptop or the Walmart mobile app. We’re offering more amazing deals, on a larger assortment of products, earlier than ever before.

Here’s a quick guide to what we have planned to help you win the holiday season:

Black Friday Jump-Start
Our in-store Black Friday events start at 6 p.m. local time on Thursday, but there’s no need to wait until you’ve gobbled down your Thanksgiving feast to start checking gifts off your holiday lists. The majority of Walmart’s Black Friday deals will be on Walmart.com beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thanksgiving morning.

We’ve stocked our digital and physical aisles with more than 1.5 million televisions, nearly two million tablets and computers, and three million video games, including 11 televisions for $298-$398. Other deals include drones, mobile phones, fitness wearables, pajamas, toys, connected home devices, home and outdoor favorites, and more.

Up Next: Cyber Week
Having nearly tripled our online product assortment this year from 8 million to more than 23 million items, we’re excited to offer our largest Cyber Week assortment to date. Our annual Cyber Week online specials begin at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 25.

Customers will find more top brands like Samsung, Google and Nerf from Walmart, and surprising finds like Michael Kors, UGG and Ray Ban from our marketplace sellers. Walmart.com’s smart recommendation engine helps surface the most relevant gift ideas for friends and family on customers’ holiday lists.

Free Shipping and Store Pickup
Walmart will offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more, as well as free pickup at Walmart stores. Last year, approximately 90% of orders placed between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday shipped for free, and we expect that to climb even higher as we create more ways than ever for customers to save money in our digital and physical aisles.

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