Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Environmentalist Ray Anderson
In 2005 I was part of the interfaith delegation attending the first Meeting of the Parties (MOP-1) to the Kyoto Protocol─the protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, aimed at fighting "global warming," since the gathering in Kyoto in 1997. It was therefore one of the largest intergovernmental conferences on climate change ever, hosting more than 10,000 delegates.
Wearing my more radical grassroots hat, I was also involved with a group called, the Climate Crisis Coalition, and being genetically predisposed to activism and looking out for the little guy, I was wary of big business. In walked Ray Anderson, this charismatic, all-American looking executive, with his almost evangelical approach to the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions. But this wasn't always his mantra. He had an ethical wake-up call after reading Paul Hawken's book, The Ecology of Commerce, and realizing that he, through his company's role in the industrial system, was a "plunderer of Earth." This resulted in his helping to pave (or should I say, carpet the way), for innovative thinking on sustainability and how a company could remain profitable and do the right thing, all at the same time.
In a tribute to Ray Anderson, who passed away on August 9, New York Times writer (and my friend), Paul Vitello, quoted from a speech Anderson made to the business community after being inspired by Paul Hawken's book. "We are all part of the continuum of humanity and life. We will have lived our brief span and either helped or hurt that continuum and the earth that sustains all life. It's that simple. Which will it be?"
Ray Anderson, through Interface, was part of the continuum of addressing our greatest environmental threat, climate change; as well as reducing waste and indoor air pollution─key to a healthy building, whether it be a home, business, or house of worship─making a sacred space, a little more sacred.