In 1994, Interface founder and chairman Ray Anderson set an audacious goal for his commercial carpet company: to take nothing from the earth that can’t be replaced by the earth. Now, in the most inspiring business book of our time, Anderson leads the way forward and challenges all of industry to share that goal.
The Interface story is a compelling one: In 1994, making carpets was a toxic, petroleum-based process, releasing immense amounts of air and water pollution and creating tons of waste. Fifteen years after Anderson’s “spear in the chest” revelation, Interface has:
-Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 82%
-Cut fossil fuel consumption by 60%
-Cut waste by 66%
-Cut water use by 75%
-Invented and patented new machines, materials, and manufacturing processes
-Increased sales by 66%, doubled earnings, and raised profit margins
With practical ideas and measurable outcomes that every business can use, Anderson shows that profit and sustainability are not mutually exclusive; businesses can improve their bottom lines and do right by the earth.
In 1994, after reading Paul Hawken's The Ecology of Commerce, carpet mogul Anderson decided to make his carpet company Interface, established in 1973, the first company to achieve 100 percent sustainability, a massively successful effort that has made him a sought-after business consultant (clients include Walmart) as well as an environmental hero. Sustainability, argues Anderson, makes just as much business sense as it does a liberal crusade, and he even makes absorbing reading out of the process that transformed his operations. Interface developed processes for recycling old carpets, invented a leased carpet program (too much ahead of its time, admits Anderson), utilized the work of indigenous peoples, switched over to solar and other alternative energy sources, reduced water use and contamination, and, in 2007, even managed to achieve negative net greenhouse gas emissions. What is even more impressive is that Interface achieved this globally-not just in the U. S.-while growing profits. Unfortunately, Anderson is far less compelling when he turns his focus from Interface to leadership strategies, stumbling through the banalities of corporate spirituality and the Golden Rule. Still, the story of Anderson's commitment to green practices and the wild success he achieved is fascinating, instructive, and very timely.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.