So Right, So Smart

Red Rocks - Sedona AZHollywood selected the singular beauty of Sedona’s landscape as the locale for filming about 65 movies in years past. Today, Sedona’s motion pictures heritage continues in the annual Sedona International Film Festival. This year’s Film Festival screened 145 films over 9 days, in several venues across this little resort town.

This year, as in the past several, the Film Festival included a special group of movies with environmental themes. So Right, So Smart was the hands – down, knock your socks off best. Three screenings: three standing ovations. So Right, So Smart is a documentary on Ray C. Anderson and Interface Corporation, the billion dollar global carpet manufacturing company that he founded and led.

In 1994, when Interface was in its 21st year, Anderson — an engineer, industrialist and very competitive guy from rural Georgia — experienced what he terms “an epiphany”, which impacted him like “a spear in the chest”. As a result, Anderson changed the entire course of Interface ’s operations.

Until that time, Interface operated like other manufacturing firms: they purchased raw materials that were derived from nature (for Interface, primarily nylon, which is derived from petroleum), processed those raw materials using lots of energy (mostly electric power), shipped finished product to customers (carpet tiles for commercial buildings), sent scrap to a landfill or incinerator, and generated quite a bit of water and air pollution (all with the proper permits). What the customers did with the carpet at the end of its useful life was their concern.

Anderson radically redirected Interface by substituting this vision:
Interface Vision Statement
Today, the pursuit of Sustainability is the motor that drives Interface’s business strategy and Interface’s operations.

How is the vision thing going

In the 15 years following Anderson’s “course correction”, Interface has:

    >> Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 82%

    >> Cut fossil fuel consumption by 60% (What’s that worth with today’s $106 oil?)

    >> Cut waste by 66%

    >> Cut water use by 75%

    >> Invented and patented new machines, materials and manufacturing processes

    >> Increased sales by 66%, doubled earnings and raised profit margins

                (bullet points from Ray Anderson’s book*, outside back cover)

It doesn’t stop there. Interface continues “on course” toward eliminating from their operations everything derived from non-renewable sources, and doing so by 2020.

So Right, So Smart, the movie I saw at the Film Festival, tells the Ray Anderson / Interface story very, very well. It’s not just hype and it’s not conjecture. It is a straight, clear telling of a remarkable story. It demonstrates that the pursuit of Sustainability makes good sense for business and for the natural world.

According to Steve Michelson, President of the company that produced So Right, So Smart, DVDs are currently available for group showings. He also tells me that a video “tool kit” is now being assembled to help organizations develop their own paths to Sustainability. The tool kit draws on the experiences of Interface and about 20 other like-minded firms.

Pursuing Sustainability is a prerequisite to durable competitiveness. Start now, if you haven’t already. Waiting won’t work.

What are your thoughts on pursuing Sustainability? Share your ideas and experiences by clicking on the title of this post to open the comments section.

…  Chuck Harrington (

Learn more about Interface’s pursuit of Sustainability at:

Learn more about So Right, So Smart and the Tool Kit and how to get them at:

Check out Jera’s resource website for smaller manufacturers at:

Download a PDF version of this blog post at:

*Anderson, Ray C., Confessions of a Radical Industrialist, St. Martin’s Press, New York (2009)   (My personal #1 choice in books on Sustainability in manufacturing — C.H.)

Photo: copyright Steve Bowen |

Vision Statement: Interface Corporation’s website,