Sustainability

One Company is Helping Keep Walmart and Our Communities in the ‘Green’

Glenn H. Garrett set a standard for protecting community waterways long before “going green” became a common refrain.

In 1996, after witnessing the damage left behind by hurricanes earlier that year, the disabled Marine Corps veteran launched his own business, Retention Pond Services, in his hometown of Wilmington, N.C.

The storms had destroyed the basins that hold stormwater and they were overflowing. Glenn decided to do something about it. Luckily, four years in the Marine Corps – from 1980 to 1984 – prepared him for the hard work ahead.

“It’s not glamorous, not high tech. It’s done with good, old-fashioned manpower,” he said of his business.

Glenn developed a relationship with Walmart in 2002 when a store in Wilmington had a runoff issue in the parking lot. Walmart’s construction division called the state’s stormwater regulators and asked for a recommendation on whom to hire for help. Retention Pond Services was their answer.

When the same issue happened again, this time at another store, Walmart decided to expand the maintenance procedures developed with Glenn’s company. From there, it went nationwide.

Retention Pond Services now repairs, maintains and services stormwater systems for 1,200 Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs across the U.S. The goal is to help Walmart meet rules and regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency and reduce the risk of water pollution.

“I remember my first meeting with Walmart [representatives], and they started talking about being ‘green’. I had never heard anyone talk about green – being environmentally conscious,” he said, adding that the retailer encourages suppliers to be responsible by leading by example.

He didn’t realize it at the time, but Glenn and his company would play a major role in bringing that to fruition. He said Walmart has become a standard bearer of stormwater maintenance for big-box retailers throughout the U.S.

Retention Pond Services began with 16 employees. Fast-forward 20 years and it now employs as many as 250 workers each year, including Glenn and three other senior leaders, with clients ranging from retailers to municipalities. The number fluctuates with the seasons, but one thing remains constant – there are always military veterans like Glenn on staff. Several veterans started in junior positions and moved up through the ranks.

The business was hiring veterans before Walmart introduced its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment in 2013, but Glenn said the initiative is a great encouragement for suppliers and veterans alike. “It goes back to [Walmart] recognizing our service and appreciating what we’ve done,” he said. As a veteran himself, Glenn knows that the skills and can-do attitude learned in the military easily transfer over to civilian jobs. Glenn takes pride in his team – “I’m only as good as my worst employee” – and in protecting the environment. Much of that pride stems from his childhood in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

“My grandfather used to tell me how great fishing was – about catching massive fish. When I was growing up, there were no fish. The bay was essentially dead, killed by pollution and runoff.”

In the 1970s, Maryland got involved in a save-the-bay campaign, and the federal government’s Water Quality Act followed in 1987. Those actions helped return fishing in the bay to its former glory.

Caring for the environment comes at a cost, whether it be time or money, but the results are well worth it. As U.S. businesses continue to grow, Glenn and his team are ready to step in and protect our communities.

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U.S. Manufacturing

Making Your Favorite Jeans Better for the Planet

Almost everyone has a favorite pair of blue jeans. The ones that fit like a glove, your go-to pair for any occasion.

As we know them today, jeans were the invention of Jacob Davis and his friend, Levi Strauss, who patented the pants in 1873. Since then, jeans have become a huge part of American culture, from cowboys to rebels and rock stars, to hipsters and heads of state. They are a fashion statement and a wardrobe staple.

Blue jeans were once America’s most popular export. They are no longer widely manufactured nor dyed in the U.S. and, while blue jean manufacturing has evolved over the years, the indigo dyeing process has not. Most countries still use the same methods established in the early 1920s.

So, why does this matter? While indigo is a natural, non-toxic dye, the chemicals used to make the color stick to cotton fibers are quite harsh, and the process requires thousands of gallons of water to rinse the chemicals out later.

Recently, the Walmart Foundation, through the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, supported a project at Texas Tech University where researchers are using a foam indigo dyeing technique on cotton fibers. According to Texas Tech, this method, which uses a frothy foam dye designed to penetrate the entire fiber, eliminates the use of harsh chemicals and reduces water and energy usage by nearly 90%. This innovation could be a game changer for denim manufacturers by lowering costs and reducing environmental impacts.

This project’s potential is just now unfolding. And it’s part of a broader effort to grow local economies, and ultimately, create more jobs in communities across the country.

Watch the innovative foam indigo dyeing process in action and hear from the people at Texas Tech University who helped create it.

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Sustainability

Bringing You a Perfect – and Sustainable – Cup of Joe

Having a good cup of coffee is a morning ritual for most of us. There’s nothing like the aroma of that first cup.

At Walmart, we are working to provide a range of coffee product options that are affordable, high-quality and that build trust with our customers.

One way we’re doing this is by sourcing third-party certified sustainably-grown coffee for products sold in our stores and clubs. For example, we are proud to sell merchandise with Rainforest Alliance Certified seals. These seals indicate that, according to the standards set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network, certain products were grown with care by farmers working to build sustainable livelihoods and thriving communities.

We also are the first major North American retailer to join Conservation International’s Sustainable Coffee Challenge. The Sustainable Coffee Challenge is a collaborative effort of companies, governments, non-governmental organizations, research institutions and others seeking to advance sustainability efforts in the coffee sector. In joining The Challenge, Walmart set a goal to purchase all of its private brand coffee sustainably by the end of 2020. We know our customers are looking for sustainable options, and when they enjoy the aroma of our private brand coffee, we want to be able to meet their expectations.

As a retailer, we value the men and women who produce the products our customers want, and we expect our suppliers to provide workers with safe and healthy working conditions. Earlier this year, Walmart reinforced this expectation at the first convening of the World Coffee Producers Forum in Medellin, Colombia. During my remarks at the forum, I spoke to coffee sector representatives about how we can create a more equitable value chain that benefits customers, workers and businesses.

During a recent tour of the La Miranda Farm on the outskirts of Medellin, Colombia, we had the privilege to speak with Gonzalo Valencia – a passionate coffee grower with more than 30 years of experience. Mr. Valencia provided valuable insights on some of the challenges and opportunities that exist in the coffee value chain. Multiple generations of Mr. Valencia’s family have worked as coffee growers, much like scores of other growers throughout Latin America and Africa who have contributed to our Great Value Classic Roast and Sam’s Choice Colombia Supremo coffee blends.

Our engagement with coffee bean growers such as Mr. Valencia and other cultivators around the world gives us important insights on how we can assist them and improve the sustainability of coffee production.

By selling products with certifications and incorporating feedback from coffee growers, we are working to make our coffee value chain effective and sustainable for everyone, from the farmers to our customers and that first delicious sip in the morning.

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Heritage

The Valentine Love Story Behind the Walmart Brand

Before a fledgling family-run retail chain flourished into what it is today, there was a simple and sweet love story.

On Valentine’s Day in 1943, after serving a year of active duty in the Army, Sam Walton married his wife, Helen, in her hometown of Claremore, Oklahoma.

In his book, “Sam Walton: Made in America,” Sam says on an April night in a bowling alley in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he noticed Helen Robson – his future bride – who just happened to be on a date with another fellow.

After she took her turn and rolled her ball down the alley, she saw Sam with his leg up over the armrest of an old chair, with a smile on his face. She recalls Sam’s greeting as being rather “corny.”

Helen said Sam asked if he had met her somewhere before. It turns out Sam had dated a girl Helen knew in college. Instead of asking for Helen’s number, Sam initially asked Helen for the other young woman’s number. However, according to Helen, soon after that encounter, Helen and Sam started dating.

Both Helen and Sam have said they instantly fell in love with each other. Sam said Helen was “pretty and smart, and educated, ambitious and opinionated and strong-willed – with ideas and plans of her own.” After dating for a little while, by the time Sam was called up by the Army for active duty, he said two things were very clear to him: He knew who he wanted to marry Helen, and knew he wanted to go into retail.

From there, the rest of their story went down in the retail history books. “I always told my mother and dad that I was going to marry someone who had that special energy and drive, that desire to be a success,” Helen said. “I certainly found what I was looking for, but now I laugh sometimes and say maybe I overshot a little.”

To commemorate their anniversary, The Walmart Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, honors their love every Valentine’s Day with a special flower display.

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Innovation

Your Shopping Trip Just Got Easier with This New Store Assistant

Smartphones have become a vital part of our lives, helping to make virtually everything faster and more convenient. No matter what we’re doing these days, relying on our favorite apps is almost second nature.

That’s why we’ve been applying this kind of thinking to shopping, by building tools and features within the Walmart app to save you time on everything from prescription pickups to merchandise returns. But we also know that we can do even more. This week, we’re releasing a handful of new and improved features to the Walmart app that not only help you get in and out of the store quickly, but also help you before you ever leave the house.

All of these new features come together under something else that’s new: a totally re-imagined experience for in-store shopping called Store Assistant. Next time you visit your local store and open the app, you’ll notice that the Walmart app transforms into Store Assistant. All of the tools you need to make shopping fast and easy, such as Walmart Pay, will be right at your fingertips. We’ve also made the product search bar and the scanner easier to find, so you can quickly read reviews, find items in store and double-check prices.

Pretty neat, right? Now, let’s dive into the other new features that are part of Store Assistant:

  1. Smarter, Better Lists: Eighty percent of Walmart customers make a list before coming to the store, so we’ve made list-building within the app more convenient for you – like the ability to enter a custom term like “milk” (in other words, no need to pick an exact item match) and check item stock at your local store. The total cart – plus tax – will now be calculated as you make your list, allowing you to see the cost of your basket before even stepping foot inside the store. Store Assistant makes your list easily accessible, so you can see what aisle the items are located in, as well as cross off and add items as you go.
  2. Improved Store Navigation with Store Maps: We’re creating a map unique to each and every one of our stores – and with over 4,700 of them, this is going to be a real game-changer. These maps will help you find where an item is located, down to the aisle and shelf area. Store Maps is already available for a handful of stores, and we’re rolling it out to the rest of our stores just as fast as we can.
  3. Even More Store Information: You can now easily check whether a store has a department like a Photo Center or Auto Care Center and see department hours and phone numbers. We’ve also taken this a step further by adding other valuable information – such as checking for things like Rug Doctor availability – to make your store shopping even easier.

Of course, these are just the updates we’re launching this week; there’s much more to come. Imagine dropping pins on a store map tied to the location of items on your list, enabling you to plan your route through our stores, or the ability to book services like an oil change in advance. Imagine even smarter lists … maybe so smart that you’ll hardly have to make them!

We’re building a shopping tool unlike any other in retail – and one that makes virtually every element of the store shopping experience faster and more convenient for you. We’re excited about the Walmart app updates we’re launching this week, but we’re even more excited about what’s to come. With the Walmart app, shopping our stores is seamless, easy – and pretty darn cool.

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