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Social Responsibility Conference - Shanghai, China

This Wednesday, September 10th, the British Chamber of Commerce hosted Creating a Sustainable & Responsible Enterprise in China

The keynote speaker is none other than Ray Anderson, Chairman and founder of Interface. We have been fans of Interface for several years. Rachel first met Ray and heard him speak back in 2000 when she was in Corporate Responsibility at Nike. If you have a chance to see Ray Anderson speak, you go. Really glad we did.

His speech was entitled, Towards a Sustainable Enterprise Model

A little background on Interface. In 1996 Interface Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of modular carpets, embarked upon 'Mission Zero' to become climate neutral by 2020. To date, Interface Inc. has; reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 82% and increased the use of recycled and bio-based raw materials by 25% while sales and profits continue to rise.

Interface is truly a pioneer in sustainability. Their Sustainability Report is here

Ray has authored a book which charts his journey which began at the ripe age of 60. Mid-Course Correction, the compelling story of Ray Anderson who at 60 years old, and chairman of Interface, the largest manufacturer of floor coverings. The book is getting pulled out of our bookcase and re-read.

Their mission is,

To be the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: People, process, product, place and profits — by 2020 — and in doing so we will become restorative through the power of influence

That is a bold and admireable declaration - and one that doesn't even include the word 'flooring.'

To hear Ray speak is a gift. Here's a link to several of his recent speeches, here

He changed the course of his company toward a sustainable enterprise. His speech could be re-entitled, Confessions of a Plunderer. Plunderer is his words, not mine. And he uses it to describe the pre-sustainable path stage of his business. His business is no longer that.

Ray sets the bar incredibly high. Ray teaches us that it can be done. He states frequently, if one person can do it, others can do it. And if others can do it, everyone can do it. We are thankful that there is a Ray Anderson. And that Paul Hawken's Ecology of Commerce touched him the way it touches us today.

Asked if he was optimistic, he aptly responded. We have time........time to fix it, but just barely. In his characteristic folksy and genuine charm, he shared a story of conviction and possibility. A story that needs to be retold and remade again and again.