interface, inc.

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn Inspires Ray C. Anderson to Make Multi-Billion Dollar Interface, Inc. Sustainable

Ray C. Anderson is a great example of what can be done when Daniel Quinn's groundbreaking work, Ishmael, falls into the hands of someone with the ability to do a great deal. In an era when business and heroes seem mutually exclusive, he gives us hope. Anderson is the CEO of Interface, Inc., the second leading carpet textile manufacturer in the United States, and a multi-billion dollar company. After reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken, Anderson set out to turn his corporation into a sustainable and environmentally-friendly company, focused on recycling and diminished waste.

Anderson explains, "For the first twenty-one years of Interface’s existence, I never gave one thought to what we took from or did to the Earth, except to be sure we obeyed all laws and regulations. That is, until August of 1994. At that time, our research division organized a task force with representatives from all our worldwide businesses to review Interface’s environmental position and asked to give the group an environmental vision. Frankly, I didn’t have a vision, except "comply, comply, comply." I had heard statesmen advocate "sustainable development," but I had no idea what it meant; I sweated for three weeks over what to say to that group." First, Anderson got his hands on Hawken's book and, "Later, someone sent me a copy of Daniel Quinn’s book, Ishmael. I’ve now read it six times and I’m here to tell you that Hawken and Quinn together, will not only change your life, but make you understand why it should change. They did both for me."

Anderson's work to make Interface an environmentally sustainable company has led him to author his own book, Mid Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model. In 1997, Anderson was named co-chairman of President Clinton's Sustainable Development Council. In 1996, he received the Inaugural Millennium Award from Global Green, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev, and won recognition from Forbes Magazine and Ernst & Young, which named him Entrepreneur of the Year. Anderson recently received honorary doctorates from two respected universities, and in January 2001, he took home the George and Cynthia Mitchell International Prize for Sustainable Development.

Read more about The Interface Model and Anderson's receipt of the $100,000 George and Cynthia Mitchell International Prize for Sustainable Development. Read a dialogue in which Daniel Quinn discusses the model that Ray Anderson offers for those who ask "What do we do now?"

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