Rio+20: Carbon War Room, Virgin Unite Bestow “Screw Business as Usual” Awards

richard branson, Virgin United, Carbon War Room, Screw business as usual, screw business as usual awards
Photo courtesy LineUp Media

Never one to mince words, Richard Branson is continuing his work via his non profit Virgin Unite. The NGO has partnered with Carbon War Room, another Branson venture, to award five business leaders what it calls the “Screw Business as Usual Awards.”

The SBAU awards were announced earlier this week at the Rio+Social gathering, part of the many concurrent events going on this week at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Virgin Unite asked a group of partners, which included the pan-European charity United Postcode Lotteries, to identify leaders who put both planet and the people at the heart of how they conduct business. And so the winners, who should not be of any surprise, are:

richard branson, Virgin United, Carbon War Room, Screw business as usual, screw business as usual awards, ray anderson, interfaceThe late Ray Anderson, Interface: Anderson (pictured right), founder and chairman of Interface, passed away last August, but his legacy as an unrelenting champion of the environment will not be forgotten anytime soon. In 1994, before many people even uttered the word “sustainability,” Anderson insisted that environmental stewardship be at the core of Interface’s business.

Segun Saxena, Clean Star Mozambique: This ethanol cookstove venture is helping farmers earn a solid living, freeing families from charcoal independence and is snapping the vicious cycle of deforestation, food insecurity and harm to the public’s health in Mozambique.

Eben Bayer, Ecovative: Polystyrene, or Styrofoam as it is known, is still not recycled in many municipalities and has its own detrimental effects on the environment. Bayer and Ecovative have completely disrupted the packaging industry with a mushroom-based alternative that companies including Dell now use.

Jochen Zeitz, PUMA and PPR Group: Few would have thought a decade ago that sporting apparel companies would lead the charge towards more sustainable practices, but PUMA has been a leader. From its environmental P&L statement to working with its supply chain on transparency issues, PUMA pushes the envelope. And then you have the return of those retro sneakers, only with less toxins and more responsibly sourced textiles.

Dennis Hunter, Ygrene: Retrofitting buildings is not cheap but pays environmental and financial dividends in the long run. To that end, Hunter and Ygrene is financing such projects across the United States, allowing property owners to do their part to build a cleaner local environment with minimal hassle from banks.

Do you have someone who should be on the “Screw Business as Usual” award list or should receive an honorable mention? Share them with us.

Leon Kaye, based in California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo of Ray Anderson courtesy Interface.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

3 responses

  1. Great post, thank you! I’d nominate J. Lyell Clarke of Clarke as someone to watch! Through product innovation and a company-wide culture shift, he’s led the effort to transform the toxic, old mosquito spray company to a safer, healthier one that makes “communities around the world more livable, safe, and comfortable.” 

  2. I’d nominate Arthur Attwell of Paperight as one to watch. Paperight “turns any copy shop into a bookshop”. In Africa, where not everyone can afford, access or maintain electronic devices, printing is still an important technology for knowledge dissemination. Lack of bookshop and distribution infrastructure make a licensed, distributed print-on-demand system an exciting gamechanger. Remember, South Africa is a country that cannot deliver school textbooks six months after schools started their year, even under court order:  

    Paperight Explainer video:; “Why I’m pushing paper”:

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