Thirty-six years ago, Ray Anderson bootstrapped a carpet company called Interface. He maneuvered it though the challenging years, and by the 1990s he was a major player, which also meant he was a preeminent contributor to the take/make/waste production system of the carpet industry. “We were digging up the earth and converting it to pollution,” he says.
Anderson devoted his company to “Mission Zero,” a vow that within five years it would “only take from the earth that which can be replenished by the earth, take not one fresh drop of oil in an oil-intensive industry, and do no harm.” The results: Greenhouse emissions declined 82 percent, fossil fuel use dropped 60 percent, water use declined 77 percent, while sales increased 66 percent and profits doubled. Interface realized $400 million in “avoided costs” in pursuit of zero emissions, which paid for the entire transformation.
Anderson’s green business model is classic: Costs come down as innovation–inspired with missionary zeal–goes up, products become better, talent is attracted to your company for its moral and emotional enterprise, and the marketplace perceives the good that you do as reflective of the goods that you make. Most important, Anderson’s real-life model presents an irrefutable challenge. As he says, “If something exists, it must be possible.”
I = P x A x T1 is Paul & Anne Erhlich’s Environmental Impact Equation where Impact = Population multiplied by Affluence multiplied by Technology. The revised equation is I = P x A / T2.
Thanks to Entrepreneur.com for listing various TED videos
Comment: If you are a CEO, contact Ray Anderson for more information, advice, wisdom, etc.