Sustainability

What Walmart Needs to Go 100% Renewable

Walmart’s aspirational goal to be supplied by 100% renewable energy – and to drive the production or procurement of 7 billion kWh of renewable energy globally while doubling the number of on-site solar projects in the U.S. by 2020 – just plain makes business sense. Between Walmart’s 2020 commitments to renewables and energy efficiency, the company could avoid up to $1 billion a year in energy costs.

Walmart’s Mountain View, California store is a perfect example of Walmart’s commitment to on-site solar energy, with 14.5% of the facility’s energy coming from a rooftop solar system installed by SolarCity. However, this facility also demonstrates the challenges in procuring a 100% renewable energy.  Available roof-space alone for a solar system is not enough to power the entire facility with renewable energy. It’s just further proof that more options for sourcing renewable energy are needed.

This means that in order to reach 100% renewable energy, Walmart needs to complement its onsite efforts with significant purchases from other sources such as third party suppliers and their local utility.

The Problem
Why is it so hard to get to 100%? The barriers are beyond Walmart. Two of the biggest challenges are market structures that prevent companies from directly contracting renewable energy and the fact that electric utilities have no incentive or directive to offer customers such as Walmart renewable energy above and beyond their current grid mix and/or the state renewable portfolio standard.

The Solution
Walmart and 11 other major companies developed the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyer's Principles that outline how renewable energy providers and utilities can help meet their growing corporate demand for renewable energy.

Primarily, the Buyers’ Principles seek greater opportunities to work with utilities and regulators to expand renewable energy choices. Walmart – and other U.S. corporations – recognize that utilities are experts in providing their customers with access to least-cost energy resources. With this expertise, utilities can provide companies with the low-cost renewable energy they need to reach their sustainability goals.

At the same time, it’s important to increase access to third-party financing vehicles (e.g. PPAs) and standardize contracting processes so it’s simpler for companies to get what they need. At the end of the day, it’s about increasing the options and flexibility companies have to green their energy inputs, just as they are doing with other commodities.

Walmart is doing its part – committing publically and financially – to be supplied by renewable energy, but achieving 100% renewable energy will require overcoming obstacles and catalyzing new opportunities. And that means utilities and other suppliers have an opportunity to step up to serve a multi-million megawatt hour demand for renewable energy. That’s a market opportunity ripe for the picking.

Walmart Foundation has financially supported WRI's and WWF’s work on corporate procurement of renewable energy and Walmart is also a member of WRI's Corporate Consultative Group.

Co-authors: Joshua Ryor of World Resources Institute (WRI), and Bryn Baker of World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

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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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