Conscious Consumerism

Incognito: Interface

ecofriendly, sustainable, supply chainNick Ogden

This month I would like to talk about a few, seemingly, mundane companies that once you scratch the surface are really doing some major good in their industries. The reason why I am going to highlight a few "undercover" conscious companies is because it is important to start to understand who is out their and what they are doing to try and push markets to a sustainable path. Many organizations go above and beyond to let people know that either they are switching their methods or are, from the get-go, consciously leading sustainable organizational practices. So let's delve in and get this month started! 

When we think of carpet many of us think of the dingy old shag carpet that our parents ripped up to find beautiful hardwood underneath (at least I do). Granted, unless you are a homeowner, interior designer or just a [not so] creepy carpet connoisseur you may not think that much of carpet. The fine people at Interface are all 3 of these things except with one exception: a keen vision for the future.

At Interface a “positive vision for the future and the determination to make it come true” is the opening sentence on their “mission” page. This is a rather bold statement because lets get real they produce carpet. How could a company that produces carpet have such a bold mission statement?

Well, as they say themselves: “We are in the business of change.”

Their founder Ray Anderson had a metaphorical and literal “spear in the chest” epiphany in 1994 about the carpet his company produces, in every form, is extremely draining on the environment. He set out to move Interface toward a renewable, cyclical, and benign future; meaning one that created carpet that was completely off course from his competitors.            

If we’re successful, we’ll spend the rest of our days harvesting yester-year’s carpets and other petrochemically derived products, and recycling them into new materials; and converting sunlight into energy; with zero scrap going to the landfill and zero emissions into the ecosystem.
— Ray Anderson, 1994

Interface has done this by redesigning their products, company, networks, economy, and their partnerships. These are big shifts for a company that was founded in 1973, has 33 manufacturing plants, and has 3146 employees (2013). Interface is on the leading edge of creating sustainable business and by example demanding sustainable global business. Interface isn’t creating sustainably produced products because they want the recognition; they are doing so because they believe that this is what business should be like. Ray Anderson doesn’t want a gold medal in sustainability; he wants to create a future worth living in. Ray Anderson, through Interface, is setting the bar high for all other companies. No matter how big you are you can still create a product that harms the environment less or even creates a cyclical, benign future.,o_23uo,a_74,QuickShip_2,ColorFamily_1kw,PatternDescription_w,Scale_8,SizeDescription_g,GlobalProductCategory_1s,I2_2/s0/v0/,o_23uo,a_74,QuickShip_2,ColorFamily_1kw,PatternDescription_w,Scale_8,SizeDescription_g,GlobalProductCategory_1s,I2_2/s0/v0/

Interface has created an EPD program, creating transparency surrounding their environmental impact of their products. This creates an organizational environment centred around Interface's mission statement of cyclical benign business. Having an EPD for a consumable product creates for consumers a platform to realize their buying power and its impact on the global environment. Not only does Interface recognize the need to educate consumers on their environmental impact, they also realize the power of design.

Interface intermingles intrinsic natural designs that reflects their environmental organizational mandates. Interface has partnered with the Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) to create this atmosphere of environmentally positive design through a scholarship program for designers striving for this mindset. Designers who are creating environmentally positively projects can apply for this scholarship to bring their ideas to fruition.

Interface is creating partnerships for a more sustainable future. 

For more info on Ray Anderson's spear and a general really interesting video, click the button bellow! 

The next time you think about carpet, think about Interface.

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