Each Walmart associate represented one of eight water users – agriculture, energy, industry for example. Using eight strings attached to a rubber band, associates first stretched the band around an aluminum can filled with water; then they lifted the can off the ground. Before they had a chance to maneuver the obstacle course, the can of water crashed to the ground.
When discussing what they would do to keep the can of water from falling, comments were: “communicate more” and “devise a plan before beginning.”
Perhaps the most important insight gained was an understanding that all water users must share the same water source and that cooperation and compromise were key ingredients to managing water for the good of all.
The above excerpt was taken from a Walmart associate training held in November 2008, involving 20 associates from five Montana Walmart stores. After the training, Walmart associates led Project WET activities at store meetings and volunteered in local classrooms, teaching about the water cycle, watershed protection and water conservation.
Evaluating the workshop a month later, associates reported they were taking action at home; for example, they had shortened their showers and were watering lawns early in the morning rather than mid-day.
According to store management, the workshop increased associate participation on the store sustainability team, increased associate morale and engagement in store activities, got associates thinking more about environmental issues and strengthened relationships among store associates.
A similar process was undertaken in Bentonville, AK; home to Walmart's international headquarters. Fifty-one Wal-Mart, 11 NWNA, 9 Cargill, 9 NRCS, 9 General Mills and 2 United States Geological Survey (USGS) employees led or assisted with Project WET activities for 360 Bentonville 4th graders as part of their companies’ outreach and sustainability initiatives.
One Bentonville elementary school teacher said of the experience at the festival that she “was blown away by how organized and motivating the science lessons were," adding that "Each activity integrated standards including math, economics and problem solving. So many details were planned in advance to make the experience one the kids will remember for a long time. Then, to top it off, I received all these lessons, so I can personally share these experiences with many students in the future.”