Ray Anderson of Interface Inc. is a guy whose ideas really give me encouragement for the future. He shared his approach to sustainable business recently at TED Talks. Seems he experienced an epiphany in 1994, when he was called out in Paul Hawken’s book The Ecology of Commerce, as an example of the traditional “take / make / waste” method of doing business. Anderson took the criticism to heart, and began a program to completely reshape the way his carpet manufacturing company does business. Here’s what he has achieved, in his own words:

I’d call that a refreshing, inspiring example for any enterprise. With a little bit of creative thought, it’s possible to retool and rethink just about any business, whether it provides services or manufactured goods.

Another key concept I took away from this talk is how Anderson added the variable “H” for “happiness” to the equation, and gave it more importance than the variable “A” for “affluence”. Western culture has equated affluence with happiness for many decades, without giving it much thought. I’m encouraged to see that people are willing to consider happiness on its own merits, decoupling it from material prosperity. There are a lot of people in this world who experience a high degree of personal happiness, yet they don’t live in a 3,500 square foot suburban home and drive a Mercedes Benz.

Material prosperity doesn't equal happiness

Creative, imaginative approaches to problem solving are not only worth exploring, they may indeed allow us, as a civilization, to overcome our current challenges. Take a look at this creative interpretation of Ray Anderson’s message, from a slightly different (and much sillier) point of view:

I’m with Stephen Fry and the Prince of Wales. Considering all the costs of our activities when we plan a business venture (or any project) seems like a no-brainer. As Ray Anderson has demonstrated, it’s not just good for the Earth, it’s good for the bottom line.

What’s been your experience with sustainable business practices? Are you planning to “go green”, or are you currently in the process of creating a strategy to run your business in a more eco-friendly way? What tools and resources are you using to create your new business plan? You can share your thoughts and stories below.

To a sustainable future for us all,
David Lockman
Product Specialist
ThoughtOffice Corp.

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