The Personal Sustainability Project
The Personal Sustainability Project (PSP) is a voluntary project that was started by Associates for Associates in 2006. The program is focused on helping Associates integrate sustainability into their own lives by making small changes to everyday habits.
As of September 2007, Associates told us that they’ve recycled 675,538 pounds of aluminum, 282,476 pounds of glass, 5,953,357 pounds of paper and cardboard, and 3,177,851 pounds of plastic; walked, biked and swum more than 1,109,421 total miles; cooked 368,779 healthy meals; and lost a total combined weight of 184,315 pounds through PSP. In addition, 19,924 Associates tell us they’ve quit or reduced smoking. Interestingly, Associates say they have shared the PSP program with 375,824 of their friends, family and community members outside of Wal-Mart.
Beyond supporting Associates in their efforts to integrate sustainability into their own lives, the program encourages them to work in teams to undertake projects in their communities. For instance, one store developed a used-tire recycling program; another helped their local community to clean up a wildlife area.
How Does it Work?
At each of our stores and Clubs in the United States, as well as the Home Office, “PSP Captains” hold meetings to educate Associates on the PSP project. The Associates who choose to participate then select a personal sustainability goal to improve their own health and wellness, or the health of the planet. Some Associates are even using PSP to make larger life changes, such as quitting smoking. Together, Associates motivate and support one another to pursue their PSP.
Once Associates choose their PSP, they make a voluntary commitment to monitor their progress during a core time period of four to seven weeks. In-store training and tips throughout the project help reinforce the Associate’s commitment. Many have been so pleased with their progress that they have helped educate their families, friends and even customers on personal sustainability and the impact it can have on one’s daily life. Not only does the PSP program highlight how our Associates are embracing sustainability, but it’s a testament to the fact that our Associates are among our best idea generators.
By September 2007, over 40,000 Associate Captains – about 10 per store – will be trained advocates for sustainability in their stores and communities, including two market-level Captains and one member of management in each Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Over time, we hope to expand the program internationally.
Because PSP doesn't require a huge time commitment or monetary investment, nor do they entail a major life overhaul, we think this is a great way for Associates to improve their health and wellness, as well as the health of the planet. However, because it is voluntary, it depends on Associates to make the program succeed. And it is up to them to decide whether or not their PSP will remain a long-term commitment. Based on feedback we’ve received so far, Associates have found the program to be beneficial. We will continue to monitor its progress, and will continue to work with our Associates to determine how best to support them.
Pssst. What’s Your PSP?
Current PSP goals include eating healthier, biking to work instead of driving or using environmentally friendly products, as well as smaller changes like turning the water off when brushing your teeth, recycling the newspaper you would normally throw away or drinking a glass of water in place of a soda.
How are Wal-Mart Associates Making Sustainability Part of Their Lives?
- Kim Nicholson, a membership sales representative for Sam’s Club, received training to present messaging from former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. She is now speaking to other Associates, community members, friends and family about global warming. In addition, Kim is sharing her PSP with her family and colleagues by educating them on the value of eating well and exercising. “It’s about everyday choices,” said Nicholson. “Together, if we all do what is right – change light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs, winterize your house – we can make a more sustainable world.”
- In our Plainfield, Ind. Supercenter, Associate Sheryl Smith organized a paper recycling campaign in her market. Funds collected from an outside vendor are donated to the local Children’s Miracle Network hospital. After her success at work, Sheryl took her practice closer to home by organizing a recycling program for her entire apartment complex.