The company he founded, the carpet manufacturer Interface, “set what may well be the highest sustainability benchmark of any industrial company,” writes Joel Makower in a tribute on Greenbiz.com. Anderson led the company to think about every step along the manufacturing chain, down to their standing offer to recycle used carpet at the end of its life.
In the past ten years, Anderson delivered more than 1,000 speeches on the business case for sustainability. His talk at TED2009 has been seen hundreds of thousands of times and translated into 17 languages. He often ended his talks (as he did his TEDTalk) with this poem: “Tomorrow’s Child,” written by one of his employees, Glenn Thomas
By Glenn Thomas
Without a name; an unseen face
and knowing not your time nor place
Tomorrow’s Child, though yet unborn,
I met you first last Tuesday morn.
A wise friend introduced us two,
and through his sobering point of view
I saw a day that you would see;
a day for you, but not for me
Knowing you has changed my thinking,
for I never had an inkling
That perhaps the things I do
might someday, somehow, threaten you
Tomorrow’s Child, my daughter-son
I’m afraid I’ve just begun
To think of you and of your good,
Though always having known I should.
Begin I will to weigh the cost
of what I squander; what is lost
If ever I forget that you
will someday come to live here too.