Paul Hawken founded his first business in 1966—one of the country’s first natural foods company—and has founded or co-founded several companies and organizations since.
Project Drawdown is a unique coalition of researchers, policy makers, business leaders, and activists who are researching, assembling, and modeling the best available information on solutions to global warming. Our aim is to describe the beneficial financial, social and environmental impact of existing solutions when scaled over the next thirty years. The overarching goal of the research is to determine if it is possible to achieve drawdown, the reversal of the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. All solutions that have been modeled are in place, available, understood, scaling around the world, and are analyzed based on peer-reviewed science. To achieve widest impact, we create tools and content designed to make this research accessible and useful to many different audiences.
2013 - 2017
2009 - 2012
OneSun is a thin film manufacturing company commercializing an ultra low-cost next generation dye-sensitized solar cell. This patented photovoltaic technology is a novel cell design that a can produce an inexpensive energy source that can be printed in situ around the world.
2000 – 2012
Natural Capital Institute
The Natural Capital Institute was on offshoot of Paul’s ground breaking article Natural Capitalism published in 1997 in Mother Jones. NCI was a research group working with institutions that wanted to better understand principles and practices leading to sustainability, social justice and environmental restoration. Research dealt with environmental funding, water resources, policy innovation, and an-depth study of Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
1994 – 2000
Metacode was a content management and knowledge synthesis company in the business of creating information productivity software. Metacode’s unique MetaData Modeling Language (MDML) linked databases to a proprietary resource integration systems model giving users the ability to create real-time models of any natural or human system. Metacode’s language and associated products, including 3D Navigators, Filters, Circuit Viewers and Infoware, filled this gap. Metacode had 40 employees, with offices in San Francisco. In November 2000, Metacode was sold to Interwoven (IWOV).
1995 – Present
Mr. Hawken was retained in 1995 by Interface as part of a group of outside consultants responsible to help make Interface the world’s leading company in industrial ecology. Team members included Amory Lovins (Rocky Mountain Institute), Janine Benyus (author of Biomimicry), Bill Browning (Terrapin), and John Picard. The group worked to move the company to completely closed-loop manufacturing processes so that all product and waste is returned and remanufactured into new product, a 2020 goal the company called Mission Zero. The incoming CEO (2017), Jay Gould, has since created a new 20-year mission for the company based on Project Drawdown called Climate Take Back. Interface’s founder, Ray Anderson, often cited The Ecology of Commerce as the reason for his decision to make Interface the world’s leader in industrial ecology.
1998 – Present
Global Business Network
The Global Business Network was founded by Peter Schwartz, Stewart Brand, and three other colleagues in 1987. It was a consulting firm linking corporations and governments with leading thinkers in order to understand major changes in the business environment, addressing existing and future world issues. Among its 100 network members were Lynn Margulis, Mary Catherine Bateson, Brian Eno, Daniel Yergin, Peter Gabriel, Esther Dyson, Kevin Kelly, Peter Calthorpe, Peter Coyote, Laurie Anderson, Clay Shirky, James Hillman, William Calvin, and Amory Lovins. GBN became a part of the Monitor Group and was sold to Deloitte in 2013.
1979 – 1991
Smith & Hawken
Mr. Hawken created Smith & Hawken in 1979, a $75 million catalog and retail company, specializing in garden and horticultural products. It began as a non-profit offshoot of Ecology Action, specializing in hand tools used specifically in French-intensive/biodynamic gardening, and later branched off into several other horticultural areas. It is credited with changing the “landscape” of gardening in America by introducing European tools, techniques, varieties, and literature. After twelve years, there were four retail stores, 600,000 yearly catalog customers, armfuls of awards for graphic design, and five distinct catalogs: furniture, tools, bulbs, work clothing, and general merchandise. Smith & Hawken was cited as one of the most environmentally innovative companies in the US, and was the first company to participate in a debt-for-nature swap in partnership with Conservation International. It won numerous awards for its environmental work including the Council on Economic Priority’s Environmental Excellence award in 1990, the first time a small company had been so honored.
1966 – 1973
Erewhon Trading Company
Mr. Hawken created one of the first natural foods company in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1966. Prior to Erewhon, “health food” stores offered limited food options focusing primarily on supplements and personal care products. Erewhon focused exclusively on organically produced fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, eggs, juices, and condiments. It was the first US company to produce organically grown rice, grains, and seeds for oils, pasta, nut butters, cereals, and dozens of other products. By 1973, Erewhon had two mills, two rail cars, warehouses on both coasts, and contracts with farmers in 37 states on 36,000 acres to supply its four stores and more than 3,000 wholesale accounts. It exists today in Southern California as the best natural food store in the Los Angeles area.
Congress on Racial Equality
Mr. Hawken worked in New Orleans as a staff photographer focusing on campaigns in Bogalusa, Louisiana, the Florida panhandle, and Meridien, Mississippi after the three civil rights workers were tortured and killed. His photographs were published throughout the world.
March on Montgomery
Mr. Hawken worked as press coordinator with Martin Luther King’s staff in Selma, Alabama prior to the historic march on the capitol of Alabama. He registered press, issued credentials, gave updates and interviews on national radio, and acted as marshal for the final march. Along with security, he was responsible for several entertainers on the eve of the march including Leonard Bernstein, Joan Baez, Sammy Davis Jr., and Ella Fitzgerald.