Sunday, March 1, 2009

Going Green - Making Money

Ray Anderson has been striving for perfect sustainability in his business for decades. And when that business is the carpet business (the company he founded and now chairs, Interface Global, is the largest modular carpet manufacturer in the world), which is notoriously hostile to the environment, he's taken on a big challenge.

Anderson has broken the mold in that business by pushing Interface to make steady progress in reducing environmental impact - while steadily increasing profitability and market share. Going Green has brought in the green in terms of profitability too.

Anderson's now reaching for Mission Zero for Interface - namely reaching zero environmental impact for the business - and establishing an organization to help other businesses strive for the same goal (click here for more info on the Mission Zero organization).

Ray is a frequent motivational speaker, including within his own company to engage employees in the mission. He told us a story of one of his employees, Glenn Thomas, attending such a speech one Tuesday. Thomas then gave Anderson a poem, Tomorrow's Child, which Anderson said has been a beacon for him ever since.

Tomorrow's Child
© Glenn Thomas

Without a name; an unseen face
and knowing not your time nor place
Tomorrow's Child, though yet unborn,
I met you first last Tuesday morn.

A wise friend introduced us two,
and through his sobering point of view
I saw a day that you would see;
a day for you, but not for me

Knowing you has changed my thinking,
for I never had an inkling
That perhaps the things I do
might someday, somehow, threaten you

Tomorrow's Child, my daughter-son
I'm afraid I've just begun
To think of you and of your good,
Though always having known I should.

Begin I will to weigh the cost
of what I squander; what is lost
If ever I forget that you
will someday come to live here too.

Many speakers later referred to this poem, as a guiding principle for all of us in seeking to leave a better environment for our children and grandchildren.

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