After my post yesterday, I thought I’d offer up an example of a company that has wholeheartedly embraced the green economy- and they did so as the world’s largest flooring company.
Ray Anderson, the CEO of Interface, claims he began to take stock of how his company made their flooring after reading a few books about the environment. He says the results he got back made him want to throw up. He realized that in that year Interface used 1.224 billion pounds of material from the earth to create $802 million worth of flooring products. About 400 million of those pounds were abundant natural resources. The remaining 800 pounds consistent of non-renewable resources such as coal, oil, etc. And of those 800 pounds, a whopping two-thirds of those materials were simply burned up in the process. He found this to be so ludicrous- both from a business perspective (what a waste of money!) as well as an ecological perspective (what a waste of precious natural resources!) that he was determined to redesign the entire way Interface made flooring. Interface has a goal of reaching total ecological neutrality in the making of their products. You can read on their website about concrete steps they have taken to do things like reduce their water intake by 75% and divert over 100 million pounds of material from landfills.
Anderson wrote a book telling the story of this major overhaul in Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise. Not only is it packed with wise insight, it also proves that being ecologically savvy makes good business sense. It’s cheaper when you use less resources, being ecologically aware brings you a satisfied and loyal customer base, and because you are doing something worthwhile in the world, your employees will feel a high level of satisfaction working for you (and therefore will do a better job). Interface was voted by Fortune magazine as one of the best places to work. In the first two quarters of 2009, Interface has netted $410 million.