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A Passing: Ray Anderson

I never met Ray Anderson, though really wanted to. Ray began implementing best practices of sustainability early in his corporation's business (manufacturing carpet tiles), and before today's mesh of sustainability support networks were in place to offer him corporate & shareholder cover.

Named the Green Industrialist by TIME earlier this year, Ray said: "From my experience, it's a false choice between the economy and ecology. We can have both—and we have to have both." 

I was unfamiliar with his major influences in sustainable manufacturing until relatively recently. Hunter Lovins, another icon from the sustainability movement, spoke highly and often of Ray, in the Principles of Sustainability MBA course this past year we taught joined by Gil Friend. In coming days, more will be written about Ray's vision and learnings he shared widely. I'll be among those paying attention to these--and I expect will learn a lot.


By Gregory Miller



Reader Comments (1)

Ray WAS a true pioneer, one who strode where others feared to.

And he was my friend.

He made mistakes, he took arrows, yet in so doing, he blazed the trail for us all towards the Next Industrial Revolution. Why did Walmart embark on its work in sustainability? Because Ray spent years in quiet conversations with Rob Walton and Lee Scott. Why did GE announce ecomagination? Ray.

So many things I will remember about Ray: he was the first to observe that "Interface's commitment to sustainability has enhanced every aspect of shareholder value."

At one of the many meetings we spent together, Ray reacted to someone's query whether he could make a business case for sustainability, shooting back, "What's the business case for ending life on earth?"

Ray often thanked me for giving him pragmatic ways to implement that business case at Interface, in work we did in communities, for the President's Council on Sustainable Development, at the White House... for giving him inspiration and hope.

But it was Ray who demonstrated to us all, through the continued success of the billion+ dollar a year business that he built and led that the business case is real. Ray exemplified the enormous difference that one person can make - the Power of One, he liked to say.

So many stories. In the days to come I'll try to write them.

For now perhaps it's enough to say that somewhere tonight Tomorrow's Children are being born. The ones Ray loved to speak of. The ones for whom he gave his life..

They'll have a future because of Ray Anderson.

To Pat, to all my friends in the Interface family please know that my thoughts are with you.

And most of all with you, my friend. I miss you, Ray. Fly well.

August 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHunter Lovins

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