Defining Sustainability-From Ray Anderson’s Interface Inc.

February 15, 2009 at 10:49 pm Leave a comment

Sustainability can be many different things – a motto, an ideal, a way to do business, a way to live your life or a call to action. The term “sustainability” is often misunderstood and misused, and not everyone agrees on its definition. In 1997, there were an estimated 350-plus definitions of “sustainability” and “sustainable development.”

Generally, however, there is a commonly understood idea of sustainability – that is, the capacity for continuance into the long term. This concept surfaces throughout history, reflected, for example, in the “seventh generation” philosophy of the Native American Iroquois Confederacy, which mandated that tribal chiefs always consider the effects of their actions on descendants seven generations in the future.

The most popular recent definition of sustainability can be traced to a 1987 United Nations Conference and states that sustainability in the context of development is: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Report of the Brundtland Commission, “Our Common Future,” 1987)

Forum For the Future recently defined sustainable development as ”a dynamic process which enables all people to realize their potential and improve their quality of life in ways that simultaneously protect and enhance the Earth’s life support systems.”

Interface Vision
To be the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: People, process, product, place and profits — by 2020 — and in doing so we will become restorative through the power of influence.

Interface Mission
Interface will become the first name in commercial and institutional interiors worldwide through its commitment to people, process, product, place and profits. We will strive to create an organization wherein all people are accorded unconditional respect and dignity; one that allows each person to continuously learn and develop. We will focus on product (which includes service) through constant emphasis on process quality and engineering, which we will combine with careful attention to our customers’ needs so as always to deliver superior value to our customers, thereby maximizing all stakeholders’ satisfaction. We will honor the places where we do business by endeavoring to become the first name in industrial ecology, a corporation that cherishes nature and restores the environment. Interface will lead by example and validate by results, including profits, leaving the world a better place than when we began, and we will be restorative through the power of our influence in the world.

Visit the Interface website.

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Entry filed under: What is Sustainability?.

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