The Green ‘Buzz’ About Walmart!
Recently, there has been more and more ‘buzz’ being created about the retail powerhouse that seems to be on every street corner, and is certainly found in every city and country across the globe. Although, with any big retailer, negative ‘buzz’ is also generated. And although they have issues to deal with, there is also a certain aspect of their company, mission, and/or philosophy, that is intent on helping to save energy and our very lives.
Walmart is absolutely dedicated to the fact that this world needs to go ‘green’ in order to save nature, increase our own health and welfare, and better the retail community – all at the same time. And the recent ‘buzz’ generated by many organizations, not to mention President Bill Clinton and his ‘friend’ Al Gore, has given Walmart a very ‘good’ name when it comes to sustainable living. (And, no, this is not a political discussion, seeing as that the republican community is as much involved with this particular aspect of our lives as is the democratic side.) In fact, we can probably thank the ‘green’ world for proving that there IS a place where both sides of the political coin actually agree on something.
I ran across the Walmart blog recently (and, no, I didn’t even know they had one) and began investigating everything that this huge retailer is a part of and is promoting. The blog, called, “The Green Room,” actually offers a place where anyone can be informed and have realistic conversations about how to help this globe that we so want to have survive (no matter what the Mayans have to say about it).
On this blog, people are offered the chance to read up on the latest issues in the world of sustainability – ours and Walmart’s. And together, the business world and the private sector can discover the “best and most innovative solutions to the problems the world faces.”
Continuing my journey through this retail giant’s ‘green’ mission, I was amazed at what I found. Walmart has actually not only made commitments and spoken aloud about their tremendous goals – but they have also stuck to them and have even completed some of the projects they swore they were going to complete. (See? Not politics at all. These guys actually DID do what they promised).
Some of their goals, of course, will take decades to complete, but they are always looking at how to finally come to the place in their lives where they will be able to claim zero waste and 100% renewable energy. They are also working to make sure that they help other sectors of the business community, such as they are making a specific pledge to source beef that does not contribute to deforestation, as well as sell ONLY sustainable palm oil in their private label brands.
Walmart has said many times that “environmental sustainability has become an essential ingredient to doing business responsibly and successfully.” It’s nice that the world’s largest retailer has not only seen that but has also put their beliefs and projects into action. These actions will not only save us money, but the generation that is walking along behind us will not have nearly as much of a carbon footprint to deal with if all companies follow in the footsteps of the mega-giant.
Some of the examples of things that Walmart has done include, using the power of the sun and installing solar panels to lower energy costs. They have also brought solar power to some seriously cold, snow-ridden locations, generating power naturally through solar and wind projects. Their renewable energy projects have been generating enough energy to power 78,000 American homes annually, and they have been testing and scaling renewable energy projects in a variety of their stores in different locations and weather conditions, including adding solar rooftops, micro-wind in the parking lots, biodiesel generators and fuel cells.
I even came across one store located in Worcester, Massachusetts that is now using twelve micro turbines to generate energy. It was beyond cool to see it.
In addition, according to their material, right now across the globe there are over one hundred rooftop solar installations being worked on in seven different countries; these deliver 71 million kilowatt hours of energy to Walmart stores, clubs and distribution centers. And from their lighting options to water conservation and refrigeration systems, Walmart stores will one day be the biggest retailer with the best outlook when it comes to living in a ‘green’ world, and proving that this globe and its people can live a sustainable healthy life without harming the environment.
I want to let you in on some of the ‘ways’ Walmart is doing it for themselves and helping/presenting these ideas to other retailers who, if they jump on board with Walmart, can prove to be the biggest suppliers of energy to the world.
LED lights offer electricity, which apparently is the second-highest operational expense at the majority of Walmart stores and clubs in the world. Therefore, Walmart decided to ‘get into‘ the LED world by installing LED freezer case lighting in stores. When tried at a Texas location, it was found that the new lighting reduced energy consumption by 70%. Because of this ‘wade into the environmental waters,’ so to speak, LED freezer case lighting is now the industry standard, and the LED lights will appear all over the place – from parking lot lighting to lighting on the sales floor.
Another really cool ‘green’ issue/technology that Walmart speaks about is the harvesting of rainwater. Apparently, the Walmart “Best Price” store prototypes in India now filter storm water runoff from the rooftops and parking lots through layers of gravel and sand before being reintroduced into the water table. They also capture and process wastewater from facilities for reuse in processes, such as irrigation and flushing.
Now, yes…in the end Walmart is the ‘super giant’ with money behind them to support and complete all of these masterful projects. And do they have their own ‘negative’ issues to face? You bet. But just the fact that they are not only pledging things to the public but also making good on their promises, allows me – as a boring, poor consumer – to actually believe in the Walmart name.
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