If you’ve watched The Corporation, then you’ve heard Ray Anderson, the CEO of carpet company Interface, talk about the green awakening that led him to radically change the way his company does business. Ray’s now a famous eco-minded industrialist who speaks often about how environmental and economic interests can go hand in hand — and Interface is a highly successful company that has shrunk its carbon footprint while growing its bottom line.

And last night, Ray was in Santa Monica at the first LEED Platinum certified prefab home in the U.S. — owned by Steve Glenn, CEO of green pre-fab housing company LivingHomes — to talk sustainable business and sign his new book, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose – Doing Business by Respecting the Earth. An intimate crowd came to hear Ray and buy copies of the book — and were given blue booties to wear to keep the house dry, as you can see if you look carefully at the photo below. Yes, we do odd things in Los Angeles when it rains.

crowd at Ray Anderson talk

During his brief talk, Ray shared the toughest question he’s ever gotten at a Q&A session:

I got this question from way in the back — “Hey Ray, in a sustainable world, do you think that there will be a place for carpets?” I was flummoxed. I had no answer for him. I mumbled something incoherent. And then I thought later what I wish I had said…
Confessions Ray AndersonWhat was Ray’s too-late comeback? “Yes — there will be a place for Interface products (laughs) … because we are in the business of selling beauty and comfort to lift human spirits and make people happy. And if we can do that sustainably — and only, only if we can do that sustainably — then yes we have a space for us.”

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you’ll have a chance to hear from Ray at the Sustainable Business Council L.A.’s event tonight. Register now for the event, which happens Thurs., Jan. 21 from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. Cost: $25 — or $60 if you want the VIP package, which includes a pre-event reception, autographed copy of Ray’s new book and a private Q&A.

Also on MNN: Don't miss Anderson's two-part interview with Chuck Leavell.

Photos by Siel; book image courtesy of Macmillan

Interface CEO Ray Anderson's toughest question
Last night in Santa Monica, the eco-industrialist shared the hardest question he's been asked at a Q&A.