Walmart remains the company many love to hate for a lot of reasons, some sound, some irrational. But regular readers know we’ve been generally excited by the myriad changes that have come out of Bentonville in the last few years. With the help of visionaries like Adam Werbach, WalMart has evolved considerably from the days when pondering the nuances of slapping up a big box in a parking lot were about as deeply as Wal Mart considered things.
Though many challenges remain, Walmart has made an honest effort toward reducing waste and becoming a vastly more efficient operation. Not only that, but it has used its clout to force its suppliers and vendors to follow suit. Through the Personal Sustainability Projects program, Walmart has introduced every one of its employees to the basic principals of sustainability and seems to have genuinely affected many in a positive way.
Although financial savings is still the main driver behind most of Walmart’s efforts, there seems to have been a real awakening of consciousness at some levels in the company. How much exactly I’ll leave you to judge, but former CEO Lee Scott says, sustainability represents “the greatest opportunity for the next generation.” Personally, I’d say the current generation has a lot to gain from it too, but the recognition of sustainability as an opportunity makes me feel optimistic. Whoever can help people understand the world more deeply in a time of potential conflict and resource stress is doing something right.
Though it gets a little fluffy in places, Walmart’s “Sustainabilty 2.0″ video (from about two years ago) is worth a watch. It’s a 90 minute epic all about a huge number of ways that the company is making effort and change toward sustainability. It’s also very transparent about unsolved issues. The video talks about the unintended consequences of bringing people out of poverty (consumption), the catch-22s of organic cotton growing, and the company’s own shortcomings in dealing with e-waste. Walmart is perhaps a little too optimistic that it’s on the road to solving just about everything, but the issues are dealt with thoroughly and simply. My opinion is that by putting such things in front of the audience optimistically, the audience retains the message better and is more inspired to act (in contrast the doom and gloom approach).
This is way too much of a PR piece to be in the local cinema any time soon, but if a significant percentage of Walmart’s millions of employees and stakeholders watch the film, I think we’ll all be on a better track.
Here’s the intro:
The rest of the video can be watched in clips broken down along various verticals by following the link here.