Life & Business

A Ray of Sunshine And Hope

Ray C. Anderson’s Legacy Lives On On The Environment.

What is your company doing for the environment? This was the question that changed Ray C. Anderson’s life in 1994, in what he calls his “spear in the chest” epiphany. He’d read Paul Hawken’s book “The Ecology of Commerce” and thought about the damaging effect his business could have on the environment. Ray wrote his own book, “Mid-Course Correction,” to tell the world about what he’d realized. It was the beginning of his journey to show that sustainability was not only the right thing to do, but also a smart business move.

Nearly 30 years later, his legacy has done quite a bit for the environment. First is Interface, the company he founded, which is the world’s largest producer of modular commercial floor coverings. It is more than halfway towards his vision of “Mission Zero™”, which is the company’s promise to eliminate any negative impact Interface has on the environment through redesign of processes and products, the pioneering of new technologies and efforts to reduce or eliminate waste and harmful emissions while increasing the use of renewable materials and sources of energy.

The next part of Ray’s legacy is The Ray, an 18-mile stretch of Georgia’s Interstate-85 that operates as a proving ground for the evolving ideas and technologies that will transform the transportation infrastructure of the future. Highways are one of the most environmentally-damaging and dangerous infrastructure systems in the world, according to executive director of The Ray and Serenbe resident Allie Kelly, and there has been zero innovation to roads since President Eisenhower built the system in the 1950’s. The Ray is setting out to change that with new ideas and pilot projects already underway along the West Georgia highway, which Allie outlines in her 2019 TEDxAtlanta Talk. It was even named a 2019 Groundbreaking Environmental Champion by Atlanta Magazine (alongside Steve Nygren, Serenbe’s founder and CEO!). 

The third part of Ray C. Anderson’s legacy is the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, which was created in his honor by his family to build a better world for future generations. The Foundation funds innovative ideas and projects that promote visionary change in society; educates the public and business leaders; and connects thinkers, builders, innovators and idealists to a shared, ethical responsibility to the environment in the hopes that they will inspire a new generation of leaders and consumers to be good stewards of the planet’s resources and ignite action that radically impacts the way we live, work and play.  

Ray’s 1994 book was recently re-published as “Mid-Course Correction, Revisited,” with a new forward by Paul Hawken, new interviews with change makers in the green business sector and a perspective written by his grandson and Ray C. Anderson Foundation Executive Direction John Lanier. The updates show how ahead of his time Ray was, and how his vision is being continued.

Serenbe Fellows has invited John Lanier to speak about Ray and The Foundation on Saturday, November 2, 2019. John’s lecture, “From the Prototypical Company to the Prototypical Economy of the 21st Century,” will delve into the importance of combining business and technology with environmentalism. After the lecture, John will sign copies of “Mid-Course Correction, Revisited,” courtesy of Hills & Hamlets Bookshop.

Learn more about the Ray C. Anderson Foundation on their website, more about The Ray at, and get details about the Serenbe Fellows event at

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