The world has lost a great advocate of industrial environmental sustainability. Ray Anderson, the founder of Interface, Inc., and sustainability pioneer, died on Monday, August 8, 2011.
His story is a tale of redemption. His journey to sustainability starts in 1994 when he realized the damaging impact his carpet manufacturing company was having on the environment.
To make Interface less destructive to the environment, Ray hired the best experts of the time. He then set to work developing new processes and relearning new manufacturing techniques. He put together a group which he called, “The Dream Team” and began to educate his employees.
Ray’s experience at the helm of Interface illustrates many of the difficulties encountered by companies that go green. It was not easy, and he was not without detractors, but Ray believed it was worth the risk.
As a consequence of Rays determination, Interface is now forging new methods and thanks to Ray’s guidance, Interface is well on its way to meeting their sustainability goals for 2020.
Ray not only radically changed the direction of his company he began to get involved with wider sustainability initiatives. He served as the Co-Chair of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development during the Clinton Administration and he partnered with many organizations.
Ray was passionate about sharing his sustainable experience with the world. Over the past 17 years, Ray traveled the world speaking to the role of business to address issues like resource depletion and environmental degradation.
The importance of business to manage the climate disaster we are facing is immense. As Ray said, “There is only one institution on earth that is large enough, powerful enough, pervasive enough, wealthy enough, and influential enough to really lead human kind in a different direction, out of the mess that we have created for ourselves… that is the institution of business and industry.”
Many of those that worked with Ray went on to share Ray’s sustainable message. Some even developed successful careers in environmental sustainability.
Ray’s life is the model of a life well lived, Ray’s efforts not only benefited Interface and its employees, he has left a green legacy that others will follow.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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Ray Anderson’s Sustainable Legacy: Interface, Inc. Part One
Ray Anderson’s Sustainable Legacy: Interface, Inc. Part Two
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Videos: Interface’s Sustainability Challenges are Being Met with Innovation, Partnerships and Collaboration
Video: Ray Anderson on Sustainable Business