Tough New Carpet Standard
Ray Anderson, continued...
about the hundreds of thousands of individual government employees in
California, or in other states. How can they be encouraged to
green their workplaces?
Have you ever met an ex-environmentalist? There's no such
Once people get it, they cannot un-get it. For every one who gets it, there's one
less of the ones who don't. There's an inevitability that this has
to happen and will continue as more and more people get it. To me that's
the most encouraging thought - that there's no turning back. It doesn't
matter who's in office.
are the government's greatest strengths in regard to greening communities?
They have purchasing power. They have taxation power, which
may be their greatest power. Government has the ability to create reverse
subsidies and to create good subsidies. Government creates incentives
through its taxation system. Its taxation ability can begin to address
environmental externalities and get them reflected in pricing; for
example, taxing the barrel of oil and then reducing the income tax –
shifting taxes from good things to bad things.
Government also has convening power. Governor Schwarzenegger can bring
people together and say, "Here's what I want." Government has its
recognition power – here are the good companies and here are the bad ones.
Government has regulatory power – the stick that goes hand in glove with
the carrot. Regulatory power can be used to deal with those companies that
else can be done to ensure sustainability, in government or in business?
When people talk about sustainability they talk about a
three-legged stool. Business can't be sustainable without the three legs:
the environment, making a profit, and social equity. I don't like the
analogy of the three legged stool. I'd rather see it as a three stage
rocket to put that payload into orbit.
Social equity has been the hardest for us to come to grips with. I know there are three
billion people on earth living on less than two dollars a day, but I don't
know what to do about it. I know that there are uneducated children in my
own community but I don't know what to do about it.
We encourage our people to find their own road to help solve these
problems. They volunteer to do all kinds of things in their communities.
You can't keep up with it. It all sums up to an effort to live more
productive and mindful lives. We've got a formal program to seek out
teachers in local schools who want to do environmental projects. You'd be
amazed at what $500 will do in the hands of a teacher, and we do that
around the world.
A lot of companies have gotten in trouble because they don't pay attention
to labor practices, especially if they are sourcing from
They have to understand that they
are the supply chain. Nobody stands
alone. The state of
is the supply chain for all the goods and services that the state consumes.
You have to think holistically. You can't make a green product
in a brown company, and you can't have a green company without a green
supply chain. We have a massive reconstruction process before us, a change
in the entire society. It happens one mind at a time.
Anytime there's a paradigm shift you have the early movers,
the fast followers and, at the other end, the never-movers. In between you
have the vast middle ground who will move when they get inspired or when
they say, "Hey that's the way everyone's doing it now." Because of this,
recognition is important – lift up the heroes.
Our customers asked a simple question: "What are you doing for the
environment?" It started a little bitty snowball and then it gathered
power is with the people in the marketplace. Everybody with purchasing power can ask
the same question of a supplier. It
makes people think and it will stop them in their tracks. It sure did us.
Interface Sustainability Website