Ray Anderson, former CEO of a successful carpet company, became one of the best known advocates of Paul Hawkin’s book The Ecology of Commerce, an inspiring declaration on corporate sustainability and its role in environmental rejuvenation.  Watch the video of Anderson speaking.

Ecology of commerceIn the video, Anderson refers to a pivotal moment when he realized the damage being done by his very own company.  While reading the intriguing statistics laid out by Hawkin, he said:

“We have decimated 97% of the ancient forests in North America. Every day farmers and ranchers draw out 20 billion more gallons of water from the ground than are replaced by rainfall. The Ogallala Aquifer, an underwater river beneath the Great Plains larger than any body of fresh water on earth, will dry up within 30 to 40 years at present rates of extraction. Globally we lose 25 billion tons of fertile topsoil every year. These critical loses are occurring while the world population is increasing at the rate of 90 million people per year.”

Deciding to become part of the solution, Anderson lead his company down a path to becoming super-sustainable while doubling profits. And while Anderson has passed on, his legacy lives. If you are a corporate leader / influencer, consider these goals laid fourth in Hawkin’s book:

  • Reduce energy carbon emissions by 80% by 2030
  • Reduce total natural resource usage by 80% by 2050
  • Provide secure, stable and meaningful employment to people everywhere
  • Be self-organising rather than regulated or morally mandated
  • Honour market principles
  • Restore habitats, ecosystems, and societies to their optimum
  • Rely on current income
  • Be fun and engaging and strive for aesthetic outcome

From Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawkins and Blue and Green Tomorrow

Image from TED.com.