Interface is a modular flooring company with one of the most forward-thinking sustainability visions. In 1994, company founder and CEO Ray Anderson committed to becoming the world’s first environmentally sustainable and restorative company after reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce. Since then, Interface has achieved impressive milestones including being the first flooring company to have all carbon-neutral products, achieving Mission Zero in 2019, and establishing the company mission to overcome the biggest challenge facing humanity and reverse global warming.
In this episode, I sit down with Erin Meezan, the Chief Sustainability Officer at Interface. Erin is a sustainability spokesperson, a thought leader, and an accomplished keynote speaker on sustainable business and climate worldwide.
In this episode we discuss:
- Moving from a “do-no-harm” approach to sustainability to a vision of reinvigorating the planet
- What biomimicry means and how it can inspire sustainable innovation
- The psychological shortcomings of focusing on a compliance approach to sustainability
- Getting transparency into a company that’s been a champion of sustainability for over two decades is a gift for every company that is just starting on this path. What I really appreciate about Erin is how she’s able to convey simple frameworks to use when approaching the complex topic of sustainability, and then share how Interface has used these frameworks in practice.
- I love the thought experiment of considering what type of business mother nature would create. What would business look like, what would our world look like, if all companies aimed to mirror mother nature in their operations: Using only renewable energy, sending zero waste to landfills, all materials serving as raw ingredients for something else at the end of its lifecycle. There’s a lot we can learn by studying the way the natural world operates.
- While we all need a paycheck to support our families, we also want our careers to be so much more than that. We want to contribute to something that matters. We want to leave a legacy that we’re proud of. I was really inspired to hear the impact that Interface’s purpose has on employees across the company. When you know your job is having a positive impact on the world, you show up in a different way. You have a different relationship with your work, and with yourself.
- The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken
- Biomimicry 3.8
- Beyond Zero documentary website
- Erin’s TED short “What nature can teach us about sustainable business”
Interface in the media
- “Interface Moving from Net Zero to Climate Positive by Rethinking Factories as Forests”, Sustainable Brands, June 13th, 2018
- “This carpet company has always been an unlikely environmental leader. Now it’s going further.” Fast Company, October 20th, 2020
- Beyond Sustainability: The Regenerative Business” Forbes, October 24th, 2020
- “Manufacturing Goes Carbon Negative”, Strategy + Business, May 7th, 2018