TED Conversations

Linda Hesthag  Ellwein

Communications, Change, and Photography, Oikonomia, Inc.


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To honor TED speaker, Ray Anderson's impactful life, let's share our ideas and hopes- whether big or small -towards a more sustainable world

The world lost a pioneer in the sustainability movement last week. Ray Anderson took risks few dared to take in industry. He was the founder of Interface Carpets, one of the world's largest carpet manufacturers, and became a sustainability champion after reading Paul Hawken's book, The Ecology of Commerce. He was the first to apply waste reduction, recycling and biodegradability to a large scale industrial corporation.

Hunter Lovins, co-author of Natural Capital, was quoted in the NY Times as saying, "“He was the first to prove that a corporate-wide, systemic commitment to sustainability could increase profitability. Before him, behaving in ways which are responsible to people and the environment were seen as costs for the business rather than a source of profit.”

Share ways you have made changes towards a more sustainable world, or how you'd like to make a difference if you could. Share any idea - no matter how large or small - that others may mimic to bring positive change! These are ideas worth sharing! Also see Ray's TED talk listed here. Ray made great contributions to the world and will be missed by many. Thank you, Ray!


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  • Aug 18 2011: Thanks for bringing attention to this. I had missed Ray's talk and certainly found it encouraging today.

    Here's an observation. Most of us work in offices, and if yours is like most in which I have worked, it's ravaged by obvious environmental red flags. Invisible harms like off-gassing from paint and carpets may be quite bad; but it's the paper not recycled, lights and computers left-on overnight, air conditioners turned low enough to require coats in August, and all of the other examples of easy-to-fix wastefulness that are perhaps most disgraceful.

    So here's a simple idea, useful on several levels. At our next annual review (if not sooner), why don't we offer to do something about it? Perhaps we find a way to get paper recycling bins, if we lack them; or we price-out the cost of installing timed light switches (less that you might think). Maybe we get a green status check added to the monthly meeting agenda, along with the other important items; maybe we do all of these things. But each of us, depending on our seniority, patience, time, and commitment, surely can do at least one of these things, or something more useful. Announcing it at the review compels us to do some homework ahead of time and figure out how to make our efforts cost-neutral or even cost-cutting, and encourages the leadership to get on-board. Heck, it could even help with a raise.

    I'm up for it.

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