Milton Friedman: The Scourge Of Green Business Practices

What’s stopped businesses from going green? Don’t blame the shareholders that demand corporations operate as efficiently as possible. It’s something much simpler.

Greentech Media: “My answer is two words: Milton Friedman,” said Ray¬† Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface Global, a billion dollar-plus carpet manufacturer, during the question and answer session at the Sustainable Industries Economic Forum in San Francisco today. “He said business exists to make a profit, but that is so upside down. There must be a higher purpose.”

…If anything, Interface stands out as an example of how sustainable business practices can help the bottom line. In 12 years, the company has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 71 per cent. Energy intensity in operations is down 41 per cent. Water consumption is down 74 per cent. Interface now uses 24 per cent renewable materials and will move to 100 per cent by 2020. One third of its smokestacks have been closed.

Yet, sales have increased by 67 per cent “and profit margins are up,” he said. The company has also had quite a bit of success with biomimickry. After studying patterns in nature, company designers came up a new line of carpet tiles, called Entropy. The tiles are all similar, but not exact. When the tiles are installed on a floor, you get a harmonious whole. However, if one wears out, you can replace it without ruining the overall effect: with homogenous tiles, the new one can glaringly stand out.

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