We recently spoke with Susan Farris, vice president, sustainability and corporate communications at Shaw Industries, about why she entered the sustainability space and what she’s excited about now.
Keep reading to learn how Shaw, who developed the world’s Cradle-to-Cradle Certified carpet tile, continues to evolve to address sustainability challenges in the built environment, especially material health, and how Susan’s passion for learning through adventure will soon lead her to Machu Picchu!
SB: What project are you most excited about right now?
Susan: Like many companies, we’re seeing a growing focus on human health in the built environment, which aligns with our focus on Cradle-to-Cradle design protocols that began 20 years ago.
Everyone deserves access to safe, sustainable products. We’re proud that almost 90 percent of our products are Cradle-to-Cradle Certified, that our supply chain is increasingly transparent and that no matter where or by whom an ingredient or product is made, it’s held to the same high standards.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m constantly asking, “What’s next?”. With this solid foundation, we’re eager to continue to work across our enterprise to see how we can have the greatest positive impact on human and environmental health.
We spend 90 percent of our time indoors, so it’s important that the places where we live, work, learn, heal and spend the vast majority of our time are safe and healthy – even as we all seek to spend more time in nature.
SB: How is social or environmental innovation driving value for your business?
Susan: The business value of sustainability as well as diversity and inclusion efforts at Shaw is innovation – ensuring that we’re constantly bringing forth new solutions.
From EcoWorx carpet tile introduced almost two decades ago to non-vinyl PET, resilient flooring today, Shaw continually creates value for our customers – and, in turn, our company – by solving sustainability challenges with innovative solutions.
SB: What inspires and drives you to work on sustainability?
Susan: I’ve always wanted to make a difference – to have an impact in whatever I do.
Shaw Industries has grown globally from our founding in north Georgia more than half a century ago. Generations of our associates have invented, innovated and designed products for evolving tastes and needs.
The world in which we operate today is unrecognizable from the one in which we were established. But one thing has never changed: our commitment to integrity is unwavering. So I am energized by the opportunity we have to focus on the long-term, to pursue continuous improvement and disruptive innovation -- and to ultimately make a difference.
SB: Can you share something about yourself that would surprise us? Any hidden talents?
Susan: I have a personal passion for adventure through learning, exploring and trying new things. My favorite approach to adventure is through travel.
In the past few years, I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to explore nature and/or other cultures in Costa Rica, Aruba, South Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii and the Grand Canyon. I’m already planning and getting excited about my next adventure in Machu Picchu!
SB: If you had unlimited time and resources, on what type of work would you want to collaborate with fellow SB Members?
Susan: Human impact. No one entity can tackle the global challenges we each face. Collaboration is vital to identifying solutions.
Diverse companies from home improvement and outdoor retailers to clothing manufacturers and cosmetic marketers are making strides in the material health space. We’re always seeking opportunities to share our experiences and more importantly to learn from others as we continually look at material chemistry, supply chain transparency and how to best communicate about this complex topic.
SB: Why is your participation in the SB Member Network important?
Susan: We value the opportunity the SB Member Network provides for us to collaborate and learn from peers in sustainability and marketing that operate in what on the surface may seem like very different industries.
The involvement of nonprofits, NGOs, government officials and others round out the perspective. At the end of the day, we’re all passionate about making a difference, have much in common and can learn from each other in so many ways.
SB: Anything else you'd like to share with fellow SB Members?
Susan: The definition of sustainability and the priorities within that ever-growing umbrella is constantly evolving. It’s critical that we constantly keep a pulse on technical advancements, the latest science and stakeholder expectations and evolve our actions accordingly to have significant impact.