Making things – building things with our own hands and resources – that’s what has made America great. It’s part of who we are and part of who we must be as a country. But obstacles exist that make it difficult today to manufacture many products in the U.S.
America is where the innovation is happening, and energy
costs in the U.S. are lower than in many other places. Meanwhile, overseas,
wages and labor costs have increased. Now it is necessary and more efficient to
build things closer to the point of consumption – right here in the United
States. If we want to grow manufacturing and help rebuild America’s middle
class, we need our brightest minds to tackle problems facing the manufacturing
industry and come up with solutions.
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will fund the program and
collaborate with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to identify and award leaders in
manufacturing innovation. We want to support new processes, ideas, and
jobs that support America’s growing manufacturing footprint.
The fund will provide grants to directly support applied
research projects that advance innovative solutions to challenges that, once
addressed, can lower the cost of making consumer products in the U.S.
If we work together, we can make it feasible to manufacture
just about anything here again – and make
sure America remains a land of opportunity.
Feb. 8 marks the start of Chinese New Year, China’s most important celebration for families. Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is a weeklong public holiday during which families celebrate a year of hard work and wish for good luck in the coming year.
Those shopping in our stores in China see lots of Chinese New Year decorations and traditional foods stocked for this busy time. For readers who aren’t in China, here’s some background on the celebrations.
Traditional Family Meals
Before the first day of the first month in the lunar calendar, people all over China travel to their hometowns to unite with their families and decorate their homes in red — a color that symbolizes good luck and joy — and prepare for Chinese New Year celebrations. The night before the Chinese New Year, we prepare a feast made up of symbolic foods:
In Chinese culture, a fish course represents wealth in the future, while peanuts signify longevity and good health.
Some food symbolism in Chinese New Year dishes is more visual, such as hot pot, which involves simmering meat and vegetables in a round pot at the center of the table. The shape of the pot represents perfection and satisfaction.
Dumplings are an example of a food with a more historical tie because they resemble the gold currency — Yuanbao — used in ancient China. Today, dumplings are still thought to signify wealth in the coming year and are a delicious treat stuffed with different fillings.
Like with New Year’s Eve in the U.S. and other western countries, Chinese New Year involves staying up late. We light firecrackers at midnight, a tradition that dates back to ancient folklore. Though the New Year is a cause for celebration now, legend has it that Chinese villagers used to stoke their fires with bamboo to keep away a terrifying, sharp-toothed monster that arose from the sea at the end of the lunar year to prey on people and livestock. Now, we use firecrackers to celebrate the new year and also scare off any bad luck that might be on the horizon.
Celebrations culminate in the Lantern Festival, where people gather to admire the illuminated lanterns (some floating, some carried by children, some fixed as decorations) and guess riddles written on them. On New Year’s Day, people also watch lion dances, in which participants don elaborate, mythical lion costumes that seem larger than life — and eat rice dumplings.
One of our family traditions is for children and grandchildren to wish elders in the family good wishes for the new year and, in turn, the elders will give children a red envelope of money for good luck and to buy toys and books. Children often sleep with the red envelope under the pillow to bring good luck throughout the year.
The Year of the Monkey
This year is the year of the monkey, the ninth of 12 animals in the recurring 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. People born in the year of the monkey are believed to be energetic, witty and mischievous. I look forward to greeting the year of the monkey surrounded by my family and enjoying the snacks and festivities that come with the celebrations. No matter your Chinese zodiac, may the New Year bring good fortune to you and your family!
We saw a huge opportunity and, backed by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2014,
set out to develop an effective production process for utilizing post-consumer
textile waste. We conducted considerable research, working side by side with a
factory in Haiti that deconstructs used textiles in order to create new
garments. We began refining their processes and finding ways to recycle a
higher percentage of the textiles they received. But, as promising as our progress
in this area was, we hit a snag. Our funding ran out – until now.
So the push to not only begin to close the loop in the
textile supply chain, but to find ways to significantly reduce energy and water
consumption in the process, is again under way. We’ve already helped develop
ways for post-consumer textiles to be turned into such items as bow ties,
purses and even polyester hang tags. But we see opportunities to utilize more
material in the production of pillows, various stuffings and more.
One of the biggest hurdles to closing the loop is lack of process
for separating blended fabrics. Cotton-polyester blends, for example, are great
for creating wrinkle-free shirts but, in order to recycle the material, the
fibers need to be separated back out. Our designers and fiber scientists are
committed to developing a process that can accommodate these blended fabrics,
along with ways to turn materials into such items as decorative vases and
bowls, particle board and other sustainable composites.
Due, in part, to this grant, we’re able to focus our
attention on developing the equipment and the processes to make these kinds of
things happen. There’s huge opportunity out there. The real game changer will
be figuring out how to bring something like this to scale. And we’re getting
there, one step at a time.
Sr. Director – Private Brand Food Initiatives, Walmart
February 04, 2016
Big change is coming to the grocery aisles.
The U.S. Food
and Drug Administration has mandated that partially hydrogenated oils – most
commonly found in industrially produced fats and oils – be
eliminated as a food ingredient by June 2018. Research clearly shows a link
between trans fats and cardiovascular disease. So a timetable has been set to
A big reason why I work for Walmart is that we’re constantly
looking for ways we can help people live better – oftentimes, before federal mandates
like these are handed down. In fact, by the end of this month, we anticipate having
successfully removed all partially hydrogenated oils from Walmart private brand
food – such as Great
Value – sold in our U.S. stores, a goal
we’ve been working toward since 2011. But we’re not stopping there.
Simultaneously, we’ve been working to reduce sodium in
Walmart’s private brand foods and national brand food products by 25% and added
sugars by 10% by the end of December 2015. We’ve long since surpassed our
sugar-related reformulation goal. And, while we’re tracking about 5% behind our
sodium reduction goal – results through December 2015 are being vetted and will
be announced publicly this spring – we continue to work toward completion and
are proud of the precedent we're setting across the grocery industry.
There have been some big wins along the way to help us move
the needle. One example was when we set out to reduce sodium in all varieties
of Great Value Potato Chips and Great Value Kettle Cooked Chips. We
successfully removed a combined 30 tons of sodium from 36 million bags of chips
annually. And, according to test data, we did so without compromising taste. To
put that into perspective, 30 tons is equivalent to an entire Walmart truck
(cab and trailer) or about 70 Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
In the end, every slice of progress in the reformulation of
the thousands of private and national brand food items Walmart sells
contributes to a healthier tomorrow for our customers. But the reality is, you
can’t simply go out and turn the dial down on sodium, sugar and trans fats and
say, ‘We’re there. We did it.’ Our palates are accustomed to certain tastes, so
the key is taking small, incremental steps toward long-term change. You're
basically giving consumers’ palates a chance to adjust rather than shocking
them all at once.
Every step forward involves extensive time, testing,
evaluation and more. Many of the wins we’re realizing today are several years
in the making – and, in most cases, there was no road map for how to get there.
As senior director of private brand food initiatives,
I’ve been deeply entrenched in helping develop a road map. We recognized, for
example, that the majority of sodium in the diet of the average American comes
from processed foods. So we’ve focused our efforts on the 47 most popular
processed food categories, which include such examples as cheeses, cereal,
crackers, canned tomatoes and more.
One interesting discovery along the way
was that the sodium within the recipes of our own Great Value breads varied
from one production facility to another. So by working with each facility to
understand needs and challenges, we were able to develop a standardized process
that, in turn, helped produce long-term results in sodium reduction. There are
a variety of hurdles and challenges to reformulation work within private
brands, and there is the potential for even more with national brands. But
we’ve already proven that, with a relentless work ethic, real progress can be
made in the areas of sodium, sugar and trans fat reformulation. We continue to
identify and zero in on additional opportunities.
There was a day when all of this seemed
so overwhelming. But we’re creating a road map. We’re building best practices.
We’re growing relationships, learning from our experiences and helping to
influence a healthier tomorrow.
I can still remember how the walls shook each time one of the space shuttles launched. Even though the launch pad was seven miles away, everything around me shook like an earthquake.
satellite engineer, I got to be close to the action. I had a lot of great
experiences during my 13 years with NASA. I worked as a satellite controller –
including the Hubble – and even built and tested rocket launching systems. It’s
something I will never forget!
shuttle site was deactivated in 2012, that left me needing to find another job.
I ended up moving from Florida to Wyoming to work as an engineer for a
satellite TV company for a year. After experiencing a harsh winter and a nearly
fatal car accident, I was ready to move back.
excited to be coming back to what I considered my home state. I wasn’t born
there, but Florida felt like home from the instant I arrived. It’s also where I
wanted to start life with my soon-to-be husband. It was easy to make the
decision to move back, but what I didn’t expect was how hard it would be to
start a brand-new career there.
very fortunate to have had a solid work history and had even spent eight years
in the Army supporting communications for the Pentagon and the White House. I
thought I had a great background that would help me easily find a new career,
but I was trying to find a new job right when unemployment was high. It was
hard for everyone to find work. I went on interview after interview, a lot of
them hourly jobs, each one telling me that I was overqualified. What none of
them understood was how badly I wanted to work and contribute to something
bigger. It was hard being without a job and to be continually told no.
applied at Walmart, but expected the same answer. It was an hourly job in a
store – there was no way they’d tell me yes when so many others had said no.
I’m so glad they proved me wrong.
gave me a chance, I can make Florida my permanent home and build a life here. They
knew that the leadership and problem-solving skills I’d learned in the Army and
at NASA would help me be a great associate. My experiences taught me how to
manage people well and get them focused on the task at hand. And being in the
Army taught me how to take the resources I had, analyze the situation and
create quick and efficient solutions. All of these things really help you when
working in a store.
I was hired as an electronics associate at store 1172 in Jacksonville,
Florida. It was challenging and fast-paced. I loved helping people and I
brought that attitude to work with me every day. After only a year, I was
promoted to Homelines department manager. I’ve been with Walmart for just over
two years now. I tell every associate that if you work hard, are conscientious,
use initiative and quickly take care of the problems you see – you’ll be
recognized. I only see opportunity here – there’s no limit to where you can go.
What’s my next step? I love people and leading teams, so I hope to work my way
up to be an assistant store manager soon.