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Corporations: The New Age Saviors

You don’t need to be a rock star, a Hollywood celebrity or have a billion dollars to effect positive change. You simply need to find a way to broadcast your voice and influence your communities.

My name is Lewis Perkins and I am the Director of Sustainable Strategies for The Mohawk Group, the commercial carpet division of Mohawk Industries. This blog will aim to be a reflection of the world of change I am witnessing as it pertains to Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility or sustainability.

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To lay the foundation, I pose this question, asked frequently by Al Kabus, president of The Mohawk Group: “What about today’s business practices do we really want to sustain?”  This is precisely what I aim to address and answer through this blog.

The mythology of the planet has many believing that NOW (2008) is the time when man moves away from the old model of suffering and toward a renewal or revival of the human spirit.  The new age is built around consciousness and human intelligence.  However, in order to begin talking about solutions, I want to outline the issue as I see it.When we arrived at the crest of industrialization in the late 19th century, we learned that machines assist us in doing everything much faster and more efficiently. But, did we utilize this extra time in modern society to rest or did we simply expect the output to increase? Did we do so at the expense of not only man’s resources but also at the expense of our Mother Earth’s natural resources?

We learned that ancient sunlight – or coal and oil – could help us support the rapid growth of man and heat our homes, cook our food and move our bodies rapidly across space, and we could increase the production level of …  well everything.  But something happened to this marvelous model. Burning ancient sunlight came with a price, and we began to change our ecology – polluting our water, our land and creating imbalance for feeding our children.  Do you realize that as a race, we seem to be more concerned with feeding the bellies of our fast moving machines (cars) than we are of feeding our hungry brothers and sisters? This is a major problem.  

So, in this new age, who comes to the aid of the planet? Corporations. Seriously! Innovative companies and their leaders will become the saviors who understand the problem and work rapidly to move us in the opposite direction. It reminds me of the first Superman movie when our caped crusader finds Lois Lane dead in the ground following the big earthquake. In a moment of terror and anger he flies rapidly outside of the atmosphere and through his great strength goes counter clockwise around the earth, pulling her force in the opposite direction and causing the earth not only slow to its rotations but actually move in the opposite direction – literally turning back time. In doing so, he brings us back to the moments just before Lois was to be fatally injured by the nature.  

Who and where are today’s Supermen and Wonder Women?  Who are the corporate champions who say what we have been doing is NOT good enough and where we are going must be in the exact opposite direction of today?  These Heroes of the Planet understand that we can do so and still remain profitable, if not MORE profitable, preparing the world for its rapid growth in an efficient and sustainable – there’s that word again – manner.  Growing up, Ted Turner shouted about the dangers of world population growth, and then dedicated his philanthropic interests to environmental repair.

Turner continues to do great work, and I had the benefit this week of meeting Barbara Pyle at the home of his daughter Laura.  Barbara, under the support of Turner and through her own great vision and passion, has been creating films and documentaries about our people and our planet for over 30 years.  In addition to producing the Captain Planet and The Planteers cartoon series (Go Planet!), Barbara also created dozens of films of the issues facing our world, including the Finite World series and the People Count series. 

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Who are the new Ted Turners? We have Gore and Gates, and Branson and Bono, and DiCaprio and Pitt. But you don’t have to have a rock star, Hollywood celebrity or a billion dollars to be a savior.  You simply need to find a way to change the world, find your voice and then create influence over your communities, corporations and even small businesses. 

I hope you join me in my future blog posts as I identify, highlight, celebrate and applaud our new supermen and women, while bringing their best practices to light so we can all learn, share and help turn our planet in the right direction.

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