The Theft Of Our Children’s Future Is A Crime

This week, the world lost a leader in sustainable business practise. Ray Anderson, founder and Chairman of Interface Carpets, passed away on August 8th.  After reading Paul Hawkens’ The Ecology of Commerce in the mid 1990s, Mr. Anderson felt conflicted as a “plunderer of the earth”, and  went on to become a leader in sustainable commerce. At his carpet company, Ray Anderson increased sales and doubled profits while turning the traditional “take / make / waste” industrial system on its head.

It is Ray Anderson who said:

“For theft of our children’s future to be a crime, there must be a clear demonstrable alternative to the take-make-waste industrial system that so dominates our civilization,and industry is the major culprit, stealing our children’s future, by digging up the earth and converting it to products that quickly become waste in a landfill or an incinerator. In short, digging up the earth and converting it to pollution.”

In this 2009 TED talk, in a gentle, understated way, Mr. Anderson shares a powerful vision for sustainable way of doing business:


More links:

Remembering Ray Anderson: A Tribute

Interface Founder and Chairman Ray Anderson, Visionary Entrepreneur and Champion For The Environment, Has Died At Age 77

The Growing Movement to Address Climate Change: It’s About Human Rights and Democracy

Paul Hawken, author, entrepreneur, and environmentalist, has spent over a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice. In the video below, he talks at the 2006 Bioneers conference about how the largest movement in the world has come into being, and why no one saw it coming. Like nature itself, Hawken says, this movement is organizing from the bottom up, in every city, town, and culture, and it might be our salvation:

It is my belief that we are part of a movement that is greater and deeper and broader than we ourselves know or  can know…It is nonviolent. It is grassroots. It has no cluster bombs, no armies, and no helicopters. It has no central ideology. A male vertebrate is not in charge….This unnamed movement is the most diverse movement the world has ever seen…It is global, classless, unquenchable, and tireless. The shared understanding is arising spontaneously from different economic sectors, cultures, regions, and cohorts. It is growing and spreading world wide without no exception. It has many roots but primarily the origins are indigenous cultures, and environmental and social justice movements…This is no longer or simply about resources, or infractions, or injustice. This is a civil rights movement, a human rights movement, this is a democracy movement. It is the coming world…We do not know how big this movement is. It is marked by kinship, community, and symbiosis…There is no precedent for what we are doing…This is the first time on earth that a powerful, non-ideological movement has arisen..During the span of the 20th century big ideologies dominated… “Ideologies stalk the earth clad in armour”… We were told that salvation would be found in the domination of a single system. This is where salvation will be found. We know that as biologists. We know that as community organizers. We know that as ecologists. Salvation is found in diversity. This movement is humanity’s immune response to resist and heal political disease, economic infection, and ecological corruption caused by ideologies… It is about possibilities and solutions. Humankind knows what to do.


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Paul Hawken