Erin Meezan is a sustainability creative and innovator who is the Chief Sustainability Officer at Interface. With a career focused on leading sustainability initiatives at one of the world's pioneering companies. We are going to examine the key marketing takeaways from her career at Interface.
Interface are leaders in the flooring industry and offer an eco-friendly range of carpet tiles, LVT, and Nora rubber. The founder, Ray C Anderson, aimed to build a company that reduced the negative impact on the environment and made sustainability a key part of the company's strategy in 1994 when the company was created.
Interface has created a new mission named the Climate Take Back strategy. This is their commitment to running a business that creates a climate solution and overcomes the biggest challenges facing humanity. Their goal is to restore the planet and leave a positive impact. Continue to read about how Erin applied her creativity and passion for sustainability to this unique industry.
Letting Nature Guide Decision Making
Throughout her TED talk, Erin Meezan explains the power of looking to nature and harnessing what we know works to provide solutions for businesses to be more sustainable. In the manufacturing, building, and construction industry, flooring are key components in this sector. As Interface moved their business in a more sustainable route, they took their product design team out into the forest and asked them, "how would nature design a floor?"
They allowed nature to provide the lessons and this unique form of education encouraged the designers to move away from using harmful adhesives. This led to an incredible innovation that allowed them to study gecko feet and the natural ways that they climb surfaces.
Through the inspiration that nature provided them, they were able to innovate in ways that they didn't originally think were possible. This meant that they grew to become a uniquely sustainable company in ways that people didn't originally see as possible. As Erin reiterated in her TED Talk, "Nature has the ability to do things that us humans cannot, and we need to learn from the lessons that nature provides us."
Over 20 years, they have been able to create a flooring product that stores more carbon than it emits. This product has a net benefit to the environment and challenges both the company and its competitors to say, "what is beyond this?"
Interface has revolutionized factories, and they were inspired to create a factory that has a positive impact. When studying nature, they realized that it collects and purifies rainwater. This inspired Interface to do the same action in their factories. They installed rainwater tanks and started collecting rainwater to be utilized in their manufacturing process. This reduces the factory's overall carbon footprint and reduces the impact that the process is having on the planet. Green roofs have been implemented on factory roofs to store carbon on-site and create a biodiverse area on previously not utilized company space.
These green initiatives are not only good for Interface's reputation but are also good for the earth. It is important to communicate these developments with their audience and to use these initiatives as part of their marketing strategy. This builds trust and shows that Interface truly cares about sustainability and is not partaking in greenwashing.
Sharing Is Powerful
Other companies started to hear Interface discuss their sustainability innovations and learned about what had worked for their company, and started to embed these initiatives in their businesses.
Other companies were able to fast-track their sustainability practices. This means that the green sector is progressing faster than originally thought. These organizations shared their sustainability learnings and innovations, so they committed to sharing what they learned. This process of knowledge sharing will assist all companies in different industries to innovate and progress into sustainable manufacturing faster than originally thought.
The question that Erin Meezan asks during her TED talk is, "what is your carbon-negative carpet tile?"
Every company has a product or service that they are able to innovate to create a more sustainable item or service. For Interface, a carbon-negative carpet tile will lead to a more sustainable building which in turn leads to a more sustainable city and then the world.
By sharing Interface's learnings and knowledge about sustainability innovations, they were able to showcase the positive changes to their audiences. This showcases Interface in a positive light to its customers as well as assisting other businesses to achieve their environmental goals faster. This can be used effectively in conjunction with their marketing and communications strategy to promote their learnings and educate their audience of the positive impact that Interface is making.
Tackling The Problem Together
Erin Meezan believes that if we are going to meaningfully address and tackle the climate crisis, we need to make a collective effort of what we can all do together to make a positive impact on the environment.
Erin, as the Chief Sustainability Officer and with the support of her global team, provides the technical support to achieve the ambitious sustainability goals established by the company. This includes addressing sustainability at all levels of the organization. From management to operations, customers, and employees, and in their policies that dictate how the company operates.
Together the team created an industry-leading way of measuring, providing transparency and innovation in the field of sustainability. This is all in conjunction with the company's goal of reaching its ambitious goals, which are outlined in their Climate Take Back Strategy.
Look to nature for the answers. If you are struggling with a sustainability innovation, investigate how nature operates, and this will hopefully provide the inspiration that is required.
Share your sustainability innovations with other businesses. We all need to tackle the climate crisis collectively, so by sharing your knowledge; we can move towards the goal together. By being public about these innovations, this can be harnessed as a marketing tool and used throughout your communications strategy.
The whole organization needs to be involved in sustainability decision-making. To make serious innovations, the company needs to tackle the problem as a united force.