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Interface: From Living Zero to Climate Take Back

by gmoke Wed Mar 2nd, 2022 at 04:46:41 AM EST

I met Ray Anderson in 1996 at a conference about The Natural Step (https:/thenaturalstep.org), an environmental action framework from Sweden.  He had founded Interface (http://www.interface.com/US/en-US/homepage), a carpet tile manufacturer, in 1973 and built it into one "of the world's largest manufacturers of modular carpet for commercial and residential applications and a leading producer of commercial broadloom and commercial fabrics."

In 1994 he started the company on Mission Zero (https:www.interface.com/US/en-US/about/mission/Our-Mission), zero environmental impact by 2020 because, he said, his grandchildren started getting on him about environment, pollution, ecology.  He listened, took a good, long look at what he was doing, and realized he was a pirate, robbing resources and giving nothing back but waste and indigestible detritus.  

So he started the company on Mission Zero, the promise to eliminate any negative impact the company has on the environment by the year 2020.  They did by 2019.

At that meeting in 1996, Anderson said that Interface was working on seven aspects: eliminating waste; eliminating emissions; renewable energy; closed loop recycling; resource efficient transportation (which may he thought might be the most difficult); and sensitivity - teaching sustainability (using the example of hiring a family therapist at the Interface factory to help keep workers from bringing problems at home to work [and vice versa?] and citing the resulting growth in production and morale); and finally, redesigning commerce. For Ray Anderson, the "prototypical company of the 21st century will take nothing from the Earth, do no harm, be just, and do well by doing good." It is interesting to note that the Hippocratic Oath is "First do no harm" and that the first precept of Buddhism, according to Gary Snyder, is "Do no unnecessary harm."

Now that Interface is living with zero negative impact it has launched its next mission, Climate Take Back, a net positive mission:

They intend to do it by
Live zero
Love carbon
Lead the industrial re-revolution
Let nature cool

Ray Anderson told us back in 1996, "I think the Earth needs a miracle. We can be that miracle."

He certainly was.

Ray Anderson wrote Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model (1998) and Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose: Doing Business by Respecting the Earth (2009) which was released as Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist (2011).

More living zero to climate take back?
. yes 0%
. no 0%
. not yes 0%
. not no 0%
. neither yes nor no 0%
. both yes and no 0%
. don't understand the question? 0%
. none of the above 0%

Votes: 0
Results | Other Polls
I'm inclined to fall into the "it's too late" category, but try to suppress that view.

From a personal viewpoint, it is pretty hard to figure out how to reach individual carbon neutrality. I have:

  • unavoidable human biological considerations related to respiration and digestion
  • a seasonal need for heat, it was 7 degrees F (-14 C) here this morning
  • a need for food, but avoiding meat is not nearly enough
  • a desire for transportation

In order to cancel my personal carbon emissions, I would need to own 7 acres (3 hectares) of forest. But I live in a desert. I could buy some land in Arkansas I guess?
by asdf on Fri Mar 11th, 2022 at 11:59:26 PM EST
I've bought a bundle of trees from Heifer International annually for decades and it took me years to figure out that I was offsetting my carbon footprint for the once or twice a decade long-distance flights I take with those gifts.  (According to my latest calculations, I am about 2-4 tons of carbon a year for my way of living, which isn't onerous or self-sacrificing, and far below the 16 tons per year USAmericans produce on average).

Lots of ways to do that kind of (somewhat) honest carbon off-setting if you look for them.  Biggest bang for the buck may be mangroves, kelp, and seagrass forests as these aquatic plants can sequester carbon up to 35 times more than terrestrial plants.  There are programs out there that will let you put your $$$ where your mouth is if you're interested.

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Sat Mar 12th, 2022 at 08:05:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I replaced my relatively-young fuel oil furnace in 200something, with a wood pellet burner. I have only worked out fairly recently that wood pellets (and solid wood fuel) are far from carbon-neutral. I should have invested in some sort of heat pump instead (I even had running water crossing the property).
But by far my biggest carbon-saving change was selling the old farmhouse and moving into town. (Wrong-footed by my 1980s "back to nature" desires; but no regrets.)
Now I'm heating an apartment that is bigger than I need, with gas, but no longer generating greenhouse gases in going to work (easy cycling distance).
Air travel is a problem : I haven't taken a flight in two years, but I haven't been "home" in five years (it's as far away as it is possible to get, other than a Musk/Bezos/Branson vanity space flight).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Mar 13th, 2022 at 01:06:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is my intention to never get onto an airliner again. Luckily, I do not have overseas family responsibilities. Amtrak, for all its shortcomings, goes to where I need to go.

I have looked into heat pumps and cannot yet see the economic advantage over straightforward resistance electric heat. With a household air conditioner (cooler), you already cover half the heat pump system. For most days, other than perhaps a  month in the winter, passive solar heating is plenty. My house easily gets up to 70 F inside on sunny days even if it is below freezing outside. So the only times I need heat are:

  • 15 minutes in the morning when the house is cold
  • Overcast days with temperature below 40 F
  • Very cold sunny days with temperatures below 20 F

Those situation occur pretty rarely, and could be covered by resistance heating. The cost and complexity of a heat pump might not make sense, at least in my case.
by asdf on Sun Mar 13th, 2022 at 03:20:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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