Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Morning at Interface

Today's field trip was my favorite field trip that we have taken so far. We visited Interface which is a carpet tile company. To get there, we had to take the train downtown and there we would meet our teacher to walk to the building. We had to rely on ourselves to get us downtown in one piece. In my opinion, nothing brings a class of 14 together like trying to figure out directions.
Interface Office
Interface is a company that produces carpet tiles so naturally, their office had some really intricate carpet designs. After passing through the reception room, we went into a conference room where we would be having our presentation given by Steve Arbaugh. Steve is currently the VP of Creative Strategy & Planning. He opened up his presentation by talking about the creator of Interface, Ray Anderson. Ray had become enlightened about climate change one day so he created a plan for the carpet company he worked for before but they said that they wouldn't put into action because it was too expensive. Ray then decided that he would do it himself and that was how Interface was born.
Interface Presentation Room
Steve went on to talk about the ways that the company remains sustainable and how their carpet tiles are made. The explanation of how the carpet tiles are made was really fascinating because he actually had the materials in front of him and he walked us through the process. The carpet tiles are 100% recyclable and Interface asks that its customers return their carpet tiles to them when they get it replaced. Although only 5% of their customers take them up on that offer, all of the parts that make up the carpet tile are then taken apart, revamped, and reused for another carpet tile. Nylon is a component that is apart of the carpet tile making process and Interface gets some of its nylon from recycled fishnets from the Philippines. Another component that is part of the making of carpet tiles is oil. Oil is a finite resource that we have and Steve told us that they working on finding a a replacement .

Lunch With Interface
Once our meeting at Interface was over, we walked back to the UChicago Business School downtown to have the afternoon portion of class. We reflected on our day's visit and then we were given a lecture on the role that the media plays on educating the public on sustainable practices and about any environmental problems that we are having. After we all shared our opinions, we came to the conclusion that the media could do a better job but along with them having to change their mindsets, we as the consumer need to be more open to environmental issues.

Today was probably the most fun class day that I have had so far. Interface really surprised me at how genuine and transparent they were. Interface is one of the few companies out there that became sustainable based purely on the fact that it is the right thing to do. When Interface started up, Ray wasn't doing this because he figured in a few years his company would turn a profit, he did this because it is the right thing to do for the environment and I really respect him for that.

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