Adam Werbach is the CEO of Act Now Productions, one of the hottest environmental consulting firms. Adam Werbach and his company are most known for their controversial work with Wal-Mart. Of particular interest to me is the program called ‘PSP‘, for ‘Personal Sustainability Promise‘, that Werbach and his team implemented with all Wal-Mart employees.
Below is a description of the program, from a recent San Francisco Chronicle article:
‘The crux of the program was a concept Werbach and a few others had created called “PSP,” or “Personal Sustainability Promise,” the goal of which was to get every Wal-Mart associate to commit to a behavioral change that would benefit the earth. It could be the decision to carpool, to plant trees, to eat organic food, to recycle – anything that might reduce pollution and waste and raise environmental awareness.
After testing the concept in 120 stores, Wal-Mart gave Act Now the green light to take PSP companywide. By now, virtually every employee has been approached, and the response, Werbach says, has been remarkable.
“There was always going to be that guy who says, ‘I’ve got my cheeseburger, I just want to drive my truck,’ but a lot of these people have Depression values – you just don’t waste, you don’t throw stuff away – and we found you could make it resonate with them on that basis. Also, a lot of them connected it to their religion, the idea that they’re stewards of the earth. There were a lot of ‘Aha! moments where somebody would go, ‘So this is sustainability.’ “
Some environmentalists I talked to scoff at the PSP idea, arguing that Wal-Mart and Adam Werbach are fiddling while the globe burns. But, according to Andy Ruben (Wal-Mart Sustainability Program Head), the program is having such a positive effect other large corporations (as well as Wal-Mart’s suppliers) are beginning to follow suit.’
What I like about the PSP concept:
- It does not overwhelm people and asks them for one behavioral change instead.
- It lets them define what change would work best for them.
- It acknowledges the fact that the most important thing is for people to get started.
- It leverages peer pressure from work community.
- It opens the door for people to create their own definition of sustainability.
In turn, all the Wal-Mart employees, 1.4 million of them can become agents of change withing their own social circles.
I don’t see why the PSP model could not be used in other settings, besides corporations. Think schools, cities, congregations, small businesses, social networks.
My Personal Sustainability Promise is: to cut down on driving whenever I can. What is yours?