Inspired by Walmart

This summer I was impressed when I watched the Walmart Sustainability Milestone Meeting. The meeting coincided with the announcement of a Sustainability Index and followed the previous month’s release of the Walmart Sustainability Report. I was impressed by the depth and breadth of Walmart’s sustainability efforts.  Many sustainability/green/csr colleagues had to stop in their tracks and take a second look at Walmart and go “Wow – That’s different.”

So I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next installment of milestonethumbthis phenomena which occurred last Thurs, November 12, 2009 Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting. The Meeting was broadcast live on the internet for any and all to see.  Very much akin to the Walmart philosophy I heard from Charles Zimmerman at Opportunity Green last year. Charles Zimmerman is Walmart’s vice president of Prototype and New Format Development. “We are committed to openly sharing our learnings with the retail industry and the world because being more energy efficient is something everyone can benefit from.” Whenever they open one of the new format stores they invite their competitors in, not to gloat, but rather to share with them what Walmart has learned. Because, as he said, “We don’t want to compete on this stuff” This is about good business practices that concern us all.

Not only was I impressed again by this meeting, I was inspired.  This meeting showcased how Walmart is working to accelerate and broaden their company’s efforts in sustainability. It demonstrated a fundamental shift in employee attitude to one of “We can make a difference.” To one where sustainability is now embedded in the corporate culture creating a mind shift of seeking opportunities.

Beyond the astounding statistics of growth (EPS of 9.1%, 4.9% square footage growth of retail floorspace, positive growth returns) and sustainability performance (There are now 41 zero waste stores in Japan, 2 in N.America; 200,000 Chinese farmers now participate in the Direct to Farm* program) there were several great stories shared.  Two Rethinking Waste stories  are worth sharing in a separate post for their innovative efforts to close the loop and upcycle store waste.

Way to go Walmart.  From the bottom of the reputation index at the beginning of the century to the top in ten years.

*Direct To Farm Program benefits:

  • Farmers through higher incomes & better technical support & training
  • Local economy by encouraging economic growth in rural areas
  • The environment by helping farmers adopt standard methods to use fewer pesticides & conserve H2O
  • Walmart by increasing freshness, overall quality & food safety, & reducing waste

For a complete set of tweeted notes click WalmartNov12tweets

Copyright ©2009 Matthew Rochte, Opportunity Sustainability℠ – Share with attribution

Opportunity Sustainability℠ is a Midwest-based sustainability and corporate responsibility consulting firm specializing in green innovation and seeing opportunities where others see burdens. Matthew Rochte LEED AP, an experienced, operations-based sustainability consultant, working with company management to navigate and realize the opportunities in taking their company green and growing sustainably.

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