What’s your PSP?


A few years ago, Adam Werbach (see previous post) began working with Wal-Mart. Some said that Wal-mart had coaxed him over to the dark side of the force. But who better to help one of the largest companies in the world become more sustainable than a die-hard environmentalist? Yes, Wal-mart has made a commitment to sustainability. They set out three goals:
Produce zero waste
Be powered by renewable energy
Sell only green products

This is huge.


When Wal-mart says jump, suppliers JUMP. So, for one of the largest retailers in the world to begin greening its operations has an enormous positive impact. It creates markets for sustainable projects and green businesses that otherwise wouldn’t think about it. Did you know that Wal-mart is the largest retailer of regional, organic produce? Think about that.

But making their products more green was only one step. They realized that it was also important to bring sustainability into the awareness and action of their employees and then their customers. To do this they implemented a Personal Sustainability Project.

From Adam’s Commonwealth Club speech on April 10, 2008:

At the heart of the project was a simple voluntary commitment that we called a PSP, or a personal sustainability practice.

What are the qualities of a PSP? It:

Sustains the planet,
Makes you happy,
Affects the community,
Takes visible action

Examples: Bike to work. Park in the spot that’s farthest from where you’re going. Change your lights bulbs to CFLs. Care for a park….The behavioral idea behind PSP is a simple one we call nano-practices. Nano-practices are the thousands of tiny things you do each day that make up your lifestyle. How you tie your shoes, the type of shoes you wear, your choice of socks, how you fold your socks, and whether you wear your shoes indoors. Instead of trying to change the big things about someone’s identity — whether they’re a Democrat or Republican, for example — we start by finding daily or recurring practices that can express his or her values. A personal sustainability practice, at its most basic level, is something that’s a repeated action that’s good for you, your community, and the planet.

My first PSP is to eat only fair trade, organic chocolate. I’ve been doing this pretty well for a few months now, which is great for a recovering candy addict.

My current PSP is to bike or walk one time a week when I would drive. My bike is pumped up and ready to go. I’ve been to the store once on it. Luckily, this is challenging because I don’t drive much to begin with.

What’s your PSP?

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