Ray Anderson founded the company that makes covetable Flor carpeting. But behind the fresh design is a decades-deep commitment to sustainable ways of doing business — culminating in the Mission Zero plan.

Why you should listen

Ray Anderson founded Interface, the company that makes those adorable Flor carpet tiles (as well as lots of less whizzy but equally useful flooring and fabric). He was a serious carpet guy, focused on building his company and making great products. Then he read Paul Hawken's book The Ecology of Commerce. Something clicked: with his company's global reach and manufacturing footprint, he was in a position to do something very real, very important, in building a sustainable world.

Anderson focused the company's attention on sustainable decisionmaking, taking a hard look at suppliers, manufacturing processes, and the beginning-to-end life cycle of all its products. (For example: If you can't find a place to recycle a worn or damaged Flor tile, Interface invites you to send it back to them and they'll do it for you.) They call this drive Mission Zero: "our promise to eliminate any negative impact our company may have on the environment by the year 2020."

Anderson, who died in August 2011, estimated that since 2001 he'd given more than 1,000 speeches making the business case for sustainability. He often ended his talks with the poem "Tomorrow's Child," written by an Interface employee, Glenn Thomas.

What others say

“Just trust me and order some tiles. What more do you need to see that sustainability looks pretty good?” — Jill Danyelle, fiftyRX3

Ray Anderson’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Ray Anderson


Remembering Ray Anderson

August 8, 2011

Ray Anderson, the advocate of sustainability in business, died on Monday at age 77. Share his powerful TEDTalk — in which he explores the personal, ethical and practical motives for building a responsible business: The company he founded, the carpet manufacturer Interface, “set what may well be the highest sustainability benchmark of any industrial company,” […]

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Ray Anderson’s radical confessions: Read an excerpt

September 15, 2009

Ray Anderson (watch his TEDTalk), the chairman and founder of carpet company Interface Inc., is part of a new industrial revolution: one that demands ecological awareness. Simply conforming to government regulations didn’t satisfy Anderson, who has made the march toward total sustainability an integral part of his company’s customer appeal. For Interface, being “green” is […]

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The business logic of sustainability: Ray Anderson on TED.com

May 18, 2009

At his carpet company, Interface, Ray Anderson has increased sales and doubled profits while turning the traditional “take / make / waste” industrial system on its head. In a gentle, understated way, he shares his powerful vision for sustainable commerce. (Recorded at TED2009, February 2009, in Long Beach, California. Duration: 15:55.) Watch Ray Anderson’s talk […]

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