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Ray Anderson, owner of Interface Global

TED.com (Technology, Entertainment, Design) brings us a compelling talk by Ray Anderson, entrepreneur and owner of Interface Global – one of the world’s largest tile carpet manufacturers.  Ray and I have 1 thing in common – we’ve both read Paul Hawken’s Ecology of Commerce.

In EoC, Hawken argues that business is both the biggest instigator of global environmental degradation as well as the only change agent that will save it.  His compelling case centers around the idea that new business models and entrepreneurs who understand this scenario can seek to profit from it along with paving the way for new environmental sustainability.

What makes Ray Anderson relevant?  Hawkin implicated Anderson as one of many major corporate entities that were contributing to environmental degridation.  The difference in this instance, however, is that Ray took to heart this charge and completely remade his company to incorporate renewable principles that transformed his business model.

The result at Interface? Sales are up 2/3, profits have double and total emissions are down 82%.  New profit motives are derived expressly from renewable economic models.  You can watch the entirety of the lecture here.

What does this all mean? New entrepreneurs often emerge because they see gaps in economic orders – gaps they exploit to make a profit by providing a good or a service.  Today we have gaps in our economic order in rural communities.  The question is  – who will be the next rural entrepreneur to take this opportunity and run with it?  Economic transformation (the kind America badly needs right now) comes in the form of economic AND environmental innovation.  This concept is based in the reality that an economic return doesn’t come at the expense of the environment.  They can coincide.

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Written by Caleb

May 20, 2009 at 2:00 am

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