Posts Tagged ‘Adam Werbach’

For an edifying picture of China’s real status on the environmental front, I suggest you read Peter Navarro‘s latest article in Energy Bulletin. Peter is the author of the upcoming book, ‘The Coming China Wars‘. In summary:

  • Every single week, China adds one new large coal power plant to its energy base.
  • China is now adding 15,000 new cars a day to its roads, and it expects to have more cars than the United States — as many as 130 million — as early as 2040.
  • China is expected to construct fully half of all the buildings in the world over the next 25 years. Beyond sheer quantity, the nightmare here is that these buildings will be electricity sinkholes because Chinese buildings are notoriously energy inefficient. 
  • China plans to move almost a half a billion peasants off the farm into factories and cities over the next several decades. As a rule, urbanites introduced to the magic of refrigerators, TVs, and toasters use more than three times the amount of energy as their rural counterparts.
  • Chinese manufacturers are extremely energy inefficient. To produce an equivalent amount of goods, they use six times more resources than the United States, seven times more resources than Japan, and, most embarrassingly, three times more resources than India, to which China is most frequently compared.
Guess who is feeding China’s gigantic pollution factory? Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, touted by Adam Werbach as the new corporate environmental hero, represents 30 percent of foreign purchasing in China. 27 billion dollars total. No greening strategy can make up for the fact that we, the 89% of American people who shop at Wal-Mart, are contributing in no insignificant terms, to China’s lethal gases spewing frenzy.  

More than ever, let us make ours, the old ‘Reduce-Reuse-Recycle

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I have written about Adam Werbach before. Now, Adam is making waves again with a new seminal speech on ‘The Birth of Blue‘. One can take issue with Adam’s grandiose objective of starting a one billion people movement, but there is no denying the inspirational value of his thinking. Highlights form his recent talk on NPR:

  • His goal is to construct a consumer movement for sustainability
  • Adam talked about the surprising success of his Personal Sustainability Promise initiative at WalMart. 500,000 out of 1.3 million employees voluntarily pledged to make small changes and were able to keep them for a year. The changes covered a wide range and were very personal in nature, e.g, parking car furthest away from the store so they would start walking more, or losing weight, or eating an organic family meal once a week.
  • His feeling is the grassroots of consumer movement of sustainability is just starting.
  • People consume for fulfillment. Adam bases his belief on research showing that happiness does not raise after $10,000 yearly income.
  • He quoted one interesting statistic. There are twice as many people overweight in the world as people who do not have enough to eat.
  • He wants to promote a new culture of consumerism, based on consumers’ actions, and the choices they make during their hour of daily shopping.
  • Companies need to move beyond the traditional three P’s of marketing, into the three P’s of sustainability: Price, Purpose, and Process.
  • Blue is the New Green. I got this from an earlier JWT 2008 Trends Study. Adam claims it as his own. Meaning the need to move broader than green and climate change, to include other human problems such as obesity, health care, education, women’s rights, and energy availability.
  • WalMart is not big enough. It needs to be bigger to accommodate more people in more sustainable ways. “God Bless WalMart” – Adam’s words, not mine.

What I like most about Adam Werbach‘s discourse? His insistence that there is hope, and his vision of some possible solutions. This is one man’s contribution. Can you think of other behavioral thinkers whose works also address the crucial issue of sustainability?

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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.

What Is Your Personal Sustainability Promise?

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?

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