What Does Restorative Mean to You?

Erin Meezan

“How do we leave the world better with every square meter of carpet we sell?” That was Interface Founder Ray Anderson’s response to the question, what does restorative mean to you?

The year 2014 will mark 20 years since Interface began its radical transformation, redesigning process and products in pursuit of sustainability.  Along the way, we have reimagined our business, reducing our impacts by using less energy and water and sending substantially less waste to the landfill.  We’ve also radically redesigned our products, substituting recycled for virgin materials, dematerializing and putting in place systems to harvest used carpet.

While we still have work to do to achieve our vision of zero environmental footprint, we believe we have shown the industrial world what is possible.

Considering the full impacts of what we do and how we do it has challenged us to innovate outside the walls of our business, and to be creative about how we design, source, manufacture, sell and reclaim our carpet tile at the end of its useful life.  Looking through the lens of sustainability has opened our eyes to new ways of doing things and caused us to consider nontraditional partnerships in the pursuit of this very aspirational idea of “restorative.”


Net-Works, a program in partnership with the Zoological Society of London, yarn producer, Aquafil, and villagers and fishers in the Philippine Islands, is helping us to understand the complexities of this aspiration.  In this case, we were motivated to look at how our corporate goal of increasing the availability of recycled nylon might sync up with conservation goals (cleaning up the ocean) and social goals (alleviating poverty).  As a result, we’re now sourcing a large percentage of post-consumer nylon via a project that compensates Philippine locals for gathering spent fishing nets from a threatened double barrier reef.

Net-Works is a glimpse into what restorative might mean for Interface, and as we think more about it, we’d like to know, what does it mean to you?  We’re kicking off the conversation at Greenbuild; follow #RestorativeIs to follow along and add your own insights.

I’ll kick it off by saying that to me, restorative means doing business in a way that creates both economic and social value.  What do you think?

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