Five Ways Walmart is Upping Its Sustainability Game

With Earth Day now behind us and just about a week left of Earth Month, it’s time to take another look at the steps we are taking to be a more sustainable company. Here are the top five:

  1. Opened our first 100% LED supercenter in South Euclid, Ohio, which consumes 35% less than a conventional store. This store goes beyond sales floor LED to include all lighting throughout the building and parking lot.
  2. Improved efficiencies in our stores in Walmart Mexico, which reduced water consumption by more than 30% compared to 2008, as well as recycled 27% of the water consumed in stores.
  3. Installed our 250th solar energy system in the U.S., each of which provides 15% to 30% of a store’s electricity needs.
  4. Celebrated the one year anniversary of our 1 megawatt wind turbine that provides between 15% and 20% of the total electricity needed to run our Red Bluff Distribution Center in California.
  5. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed to train 1 million farmers and farm workers, half of which are women, by the end of 2016. In the past year alone, we have funded projects in Nepal, Bangladesh, and West Africa and continue to search for high impact opportunities to train farmers in developing countries.

These are just a few of the steps we’ve taken so far—and we’re looking forward to continuing this work to help the environment and improve the lives of our customers. You can read more in our 2014 Global Responsibility Report here.

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2 Dreams, 2 Degrees, and 1 Unconventional Path

Like most moms, Lisa Moore has always bent over backward to put her son Joseph “Joey” Moore in a position to make his dreams come true. But there was one such dream that weighed especially heavy on her.

“I’ll never forget the day Joey came to me and said, ‘Mom, I’m going to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,’” Lisa said. “He was only 11 years old when he told me, but his mind was made up. I wanted to help make it happen but, as a single mother, I honestly didn't know where the money was going to come from.”

When Joey neared the end of high school, Lisa’s manager at the Walmart store in Mooresville, N.C. where she worked turned her onto the Associate and Dependent Scholarship Programs offered by the Walmart Foundation. Not only could associates like Lisa apply for scholarship assistance, but so could their high school senior dependents.

That was 2007.  Joey applied for and received a scholarship, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  And he’s used his chemistry degree to springboard into a successful career with Henkel Corporation.

But that isn't where the story ends with the Moore family.

“It wasn’t long before Joey started telling me I could do the same thing – that it's never too late to go to college,” said Lisa, 52. “A light came on inside me.”

Already a pastor at Scott’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Statesville, N.C., Lisa recently decided to apply to the Associate Scholarship Program to help finance her enrollment at Hood Theological Seminary School. She, like her son, was awarded a scholarship and is on track to graduate in 2018 with her Masters of Divinity degree. At that point, she plans to focus her efforts full time on the church, pursuing her dream of becoming an elder and possibly even a chaplain.

And she has quite the cheering section behind her.

“There are so many people lifting me up and cheering me on,” Lisa said. That’s why I’ve been with Walmart for 16 years. My job at Walmart has helped put a roof over my head and raise my son, and now it has [helped to support] both of our college educations.

“When I enrolled in seminary, Walmart allowed me to cut back some of my hours to concentrate on school,” she said. “Walmart has always been flexible with my schedule, no matter what was happening in my life and I’m so thankful for that. I’m the biggest cheerleader for this company, not just because of the scholarship program, but because of how it has looked out for me and my family.”

For more than three decades, the Walmart Foundation has made resources available to help U.S. associates and their high school senior dependents fulfill their educational goals through scholarships. More information is available here. 



The Farm That Grows Clean Energy

Working for Pattern Energy, I have a front row seat in the global push to renewable energy.

My rush comes when I see a new wind farm being erected on the horizon, because I know that translates into improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, preservation of natural resources – even affordable long-term energy pricing.

But projects with that kind of impact don't happen without significant investment, and oftentimes, that requires big players stepping to the table. That’s why Logan’s Gap, a newly constructed, 87-turbine wind farm in Comanche County, Texas, has my adrenaline pumping. Logan’s Gap represents a major commitment that probably wouldn't be here without Walmart’s financial backing. Because Walmart set such a bold aspirational goal – to be powered 100% by renewable energy – and has stable credit, financing for such a project was made possible. And the benefits are huge.

Walmart signed a 10-year power purchase agreement to acquire 58% of the expected output from the Logan’s Gap wind project. That investment alone will supply more than 25% of Walmart’s electricity needs in deregulated areas of Texas, serving more than 380 Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers. It also represents nearly 18% of the U.S. portion of the retailer’s goal to produce or procure 7 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy by 2020.

In the end, it’s smart business. Walmart and other organizations that invest in wind, solar and other renewable energy resources lock in affordable energy costs for multiple years. But, in doing so, they’re also decarbonizing themselves. They're being great environmental stewards, and every one of us reap the benefits.

A big part of my job is contemplating where we’ll be four to five years from now in terms of energy. What will the energy mix be – from wind to solar to a combination of the two? What will the price structure look like?

We’re relentless in our commitment to forecasting wind activity, because that’s what helps determine return on investment. At Pattern Energy, we have six full-time meteorologists on staff, crunching enormous amounts atmospheric data around the world. They’ve helped us pinpoint the best locations – Logan’s Gap included – to construct wind farms in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada and Chile.

As far as the science of forecasting has come in recent years, so has the technology associated with the wind turbines themselves. I remember the days when a wind turbine height of 40 meters was huge. Today, 100 meters is pretty much standard. For every meter we’re able to go higher and wider, we create the opportunity to capture more clean energy.

But it’s not always as easy as pinpointing an optimal location and putting technology to work. A lot of areas around the world are highly regulated. In Texas, for example, there’s a lot of open land, so there are typically fewer hurdles. In more densely populated areas of the East Coast, however, you have to take into account how details such as noise level and views will be impacted. It's critical to find the right balance.

Despite these and other hurdles that sometimes exist, we’re starting to see an increase in interest from global players, like Walmart. They're demonstrating that it's possible to run a very successful business while also being good environmental citizens. They're investing in the infrastructure necessary to harness renewable energy because it's the right thing to do for the future. And that’s a fantastic message to send to the rest of the world.    

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‘Thank You Very Much, I Don’t Need Your Help Anymore’

The early ’80s were really tough for my family. I had two babies and no income. But after I got a job, things started changing for the better.

Back in 1984, I knew I wanted to work for my local Walmart in Pearsall, Texas, but I was pregnant with my second child at the time. I figured after having my baby, I would apply for a job. The only downfall was everyone kept telling me, “You need a GED to get into Walmart.” I didn’t have one, so I held back.

Later, in 1986, I found out that you don’t need a GED to apply. As a matter of fact, the company will help you get a GED. I took a chance and spoke with the store manager. After filling out an application and taking an assessment, I headed to my mom’s house to let her know I used her phone number as my contact.

I will never forget, it was a Wednesday. As I pulled up at my mom’s house, she came outside with a big grin and said, “Walmart just called. They want you there Saturday at 1 o’clock.”

From then on, my life changed every day – it was getting easier. One of the best feelings in the world was being able to write a letter to the food stamp office saying, “Thank you very much, but I don’t need your help anymore.” I could make it by myself. So when outside groups perform media stunts and attempt to speak for me and my fellow associates who work hard every day to build better lives, I find it incredibly offensive.

My first job was as a cashier, and by putting in my part, I’ve worked my way up to assistant manager. I was promoted to customer service manager after just three months on the job at the most. From there, I became a floater to learn more about the store and then moved on to department manager, first over stationery and later to men’s, boys’, girls’ and infants’ apparel. After five years in that position, I became a support manager – a job I enjoyed for the longest time before finally accepting the offer to be an assistant manager.

There have been a lot of obstacles along the way, and a third child, but thanks to my determination and a good company, I didn’t quit.

One of my sons, Mario, is following in my footsteps. He started as a pharmacy cashier at age 16 and moved up from there. Now, nearly 15 years later, he’s an assistant manager, too.

When people ask me about Walmart, I use my life as an example. I didn’t graduate, but you know what, this company believed in me. And after nearly 30 years, I don’t give back any less than I did when I started.

The sky’s the limit, but I believe it’s up to you to want it.

Editor’s Note: This post is an update to this video, where Noemi first shared her story with us.

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A Passion for Taking Grocery Shopping Off Your Plate

When you’re in the business of packing and carrying groceries, those bags tend to get heavier during the holidays.

As e-commerce market coach for Walmart’s online grocery pickup service in Northwest Arkansas, I’m here to tell you that your muscles know it when they’ve been carrying around 14-pound turkeys all day.

But it's not all about weight. With everything from elaborate Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts to New Year’s Eve spreads ramping up, customers rely on my team to come through. It’s about picking produce that’s ripened to perfection. Selecting the right pecans for mom’s very own homemade pie.

As joyous as the holidays can be, they tend to cause some people a bit of stress – and Walmart’s grocery pickup service is one way we’re working to make things a little easier. For many, being able to place their order online and have us bring it out to their car is a blessing. It's one less thing they have to worry about.

I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to help Walmart pilot our online grocery pickup service. It really was a new concept for Walmart in the U.S. And what I’ve enjoyed most has been the conversation with customers while we're loading groceries into their vehicles.

One customer – a mother of four – comes to mind immediately. That family has gotten to know one of our delivery associates so well that, as the mother pulls in, the kids pop their heads out the sunroof and call for him by name. They look forward to seeing him and talk up a storm every time. In the process, we’re able to save that mother a few valuable hours each week in grocery shopping.

For one gentleman, this service has helped him achieve a sense of independence. He rides in his wheelchair to the pickup location down the street from his home a few times a week for his orders. It’s the highlight of his day because it’s something he can do on his own, without assistance from others. And his smile tells the story.

So I was thrilled when, earlier this year, the program was expanded to include select Walmart stores in Charlotte and Fayetteville, N.C.; Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah; Nashville; Tucson, Ariz.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Atlanta. (It’s also available in several other markets – you can find out if your area is included by visiting It's a fast, easy service with pickup that’s always free, and with no markups or subscriptions. But for me, it's so much more.

Helping bring this next phase of Walmart to life has been the best one and a half years of my life. It really has. Years ago, as an assistant manager with Sam’s Club, I helped develop a similar program, but for members who were small business owners. So the job I have now is right up my alley. I love the collaboration, the testing, the innovation that goes into creating a new facet of the business – especially when it’s all about making people’s lives easier.

I’m a country girl who grew up in southeast Missouri. I had no idea I’d be part of something like this, but Walmart continues to trust and open new doors for me. So I continue to do everything I can to make it the best possible experience for our customers. And, right now, that means taking a little weight off their shoulders during the holidays.

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