By Gaurav Gupta, Director, ESG, Walmart Canada
Recently, we received an email from one of our senior merchants. “I really want to find a way to bring sustainability for toys into our communities across the country,” they explained.
This was music to my ears!
When I joined Walmart Canada as Director, ESG last summer I thought I’d be going around the business, knocking on virtual doors, making presentations and convincing the organization to be more environmentally conscious.
I quickly learned that’s not how things are done at Walmart.
That’s because the desire to become more sustainable, more regenerative is no longer coming from one team: it’s coming from all areas of the business.
And while the ESG team has certainly been a driving force behind major regenerative initiatives at Walmart Canada, there has been a palpable shift over the last couple of years. Regeneration is a strategic focus and becoming part of our culture.
At Walmart, we’re embedding a regenerative mindset at every level of our business. Associates here are empowered and encouraged to bring forward ideas to help us on our journey to becoming a regenerative company.
Regeneration for Walmart is not just a business strategy — it’s a new mindset and a new way of operating. It’s a realization that it is no longer sufficient to “do less harm” — we must actively “do more good” in an effort to leave our planet, communities and people better than we found them.
Our associates have shifted from asking “what should we do?” to “let’s figure it out together.”
It’s because of this mindset shift and collaboration across the business that we have been able to make so many significant changes in the last year, including:
- Making the single largest public retail commitment in Canada at the time to purchasing beef from certified sustainable Canadian farms and ranches
- Introducing Pollinator Health Commitments, including planting pollinator gardens at stores across the country and sourcing from sustainable suppliers
- Making industry-leading commitments to more sustainably sourced textiles in our private brand
And today, we are marking the milestone of officially eliminating all single-use plastic shopping bags across our more than 400 stores — a move that could prevent more than 680 million bags from going to landfill each year!
And while we’re making strides in sustainability, regeneration goes even further than that. We’re also taking the lead in community initiatives. There is a real recognition that all environmental impacts are social impacts, and we must continue to do more to strengthen our communities. Which is why we continue to be a leader in providing support for our national charity partners, while also stepping up to support newcomers to Canada from countries such as Afghanistan and Ukraine.
What’s most exciting is that — even after 10 years of leadership in sustainability — there is a real energy across the business to do more! This year, we’re exploring circular business models, focusing on local communities via events and volunteering, and bringing our customers along on the journey.
The drive to innovate, generate ideas and participate in regeneration is so strong within our associates — I'm really looking forward to what comes next for Walmart.
Our goal is for Walmart to be a regenerative company, but also to share our learnings so others can progress along their own path to regeneration.
So that, one day, a merchant at another retailer can send an email to their ESG team, saying, “I really want to find a way to bring sustainability for toys into our communities across the country … just like Walmart did!”