Ray Anderson was a self made man who was a sustainability pioneer. As reported in a Washington Post article by Emily Langer, “Ray Anderson was often described as the greenest CEO in America for his crusade to turn his billion-dollar carpet company into an environmentally sustainable enterprise.”
In 1994, after reading Paul Hawken’s book “The Ecology of Commerce,” Ray gained a new understanding of how business practices could damage the environment. At the time, carpet production required enormous amounts of petroleum and left behind mountains of unrecyclable waste. This pushed him to pursue what he later would call “Mission Zero” which has the goal of making Interface fully sustainable by 2020.
“It’s not often that you have a corporate CEO who is as committed to environmental issues or more than those of us in the environmental movement itself,” said Lester Brown, president of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute. “I don’t think any other corporation has come close to doing what he has done.”
In speeches Mr. Anderson emphasized that the changes he had made to Interface did not cost him money, rather, they saved his company hundreds of millions of dollars.
“I always make the business case for sustainability,” he told the New York Times. “It’s so compelling. Our costs are down, not up. Our products are the best they have ever been. . . . And the goodwill in the marketplace — it’s just been astonishing.”
Sports taught him to compete and he remained competitive to the end.
“I’m also an industrialist and an entrepreneur and as competitive as anybody you’re likely to know,” he told the Financial Post in 2005. Ray showed that you can be profitable competitor while aggressively pursuing sustainability.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
The Life of Sustainability Pioneer Ray Anderson
Ray Anderson Time Magazine’s Hero of the Environment
Ray Anderson’s Alliance for Sustainability Award
Summary of Accolades Received by Ray Anderson
Ray Anderson’s Interface Inc. Amongst the “Best Corporate Citizens”
Ray Anderson’s Sustainable Legacy: Interface, Inc Part One
Ray Anderson’s Sustainable Legacy: Interface, Inc Part Two
Interface’s Award Winning Sustainable Product Innovation
The Sustainable Supply Chain Efforts of Interface Inc
Interface’s Environmental Product Declarations and Standards
Interface Inc is a Model of Transparency
Videos: Interface’s Sustainability Challenges are Being Met with Innovation, Partnerships and Collaboration
Video: Ray Anderson on Sustainable Business