Thursday, November 15, 2007

Long term goals - Einstein and Ray Anderson

Albert Einstein said “It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” What a concept, and what a challenge. From consumption, environmental, and social justice standpoints this is an amazing challenge. How can we possibly do this? And how can our farm?

Have you ever heard of Ray Anderson? If you get a chance you should hear him speak, he is an amazing speaker! You may ask yourself “Why would I want to hear a CEO of a carpet company (Interface) speak?” Why? Because he has been the driving force behind transforming the US carpet industry from a poor environmental performer to one of the leaders in industrial environmental performance.

I was amazed at GreenBuild, so many carpet companies each with a HUGE beautiful booth highlighting their environmental programs. One of the smallest carpet booths was Interface, which was funny because they have perhaps the most massive environmental program, which among other initiatives includes Mission Zero: leaving zero environmental footprint, by the year 2020. No landfill waste (even from the removal of their old products,) no carbon emissions from manufacture/ transportation/ installation of their product, 100% renewable energy (including landfill methane), no toxic substances in their products, and use 100% recovered/recycled or natural materials.

WOW! Is all I can say! So this winter we are working on our own farm’s environmental mission, goals, and how we hope to get there. How, for instance, do we deal with offsetting or reducing the carbon emissions for people who drive to the farm weekly? Or plastic mulches, which reduce our irrigation requirements, reduces weeding, but are made from petro-chemicals and are a disposal issue? We can use bio-diesel or even vegetable oil to power our tractor, but what about our smaller (chainsaw, walk behind tiller…) gasoline powered equipment?

And even if we can figure all of that out we still will NOT be doing what Einstein asks. But step by step we will get closer and we hope you will join us for the journey. When we launch our new website in the next couple months or so we will include a couple pages to track environmental goals.


Anonymous said...

I saw Anderson on a documentary (I can't remember which one right now) and was amazed. He came to his current views and work after he was CEO. What an amazing example of how even those of us who are not currently thinking about our impact have the capability of eventually making great contributions to the survival of our world.

Beth said...

If you're not planning on certifying, biodegradable plastic mulch is available. (Apparently there are some issues with certification, but I'm not sure what those are.) Again, I don't know the details on where to get it, but if I come across it I'll send the info your way.