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Paul Hawken

Paul Hawken is an environmental entrepreneur, journalist, and author. Starting at age 20, he has dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment.

In 2002, Fortune called him “the original hippie entrepreneur, the merchant of Marin County who got turned on to business when others were still dropping out,” adding: “Today Hawken occupies a unique niche in the American landscape, combining bottom-line business credentials with credibility among environmentalists and social critics. He once wrote, and stands by, the following sentence: ‘There is no polite way to say that business is destroying the world.’ Yet he also believes, passionately, that business—with its restless energy, imagination, and creativity—will one day get us out of the mess it has made. Says Hawken: ‘I believe business is on the verge of . . . a change brought on by social and biological forces that can no longer be ignored or put aside.’”

Hawken took over a small retail store in Boston in 1966 called Erewhon (after Samuel Butler's utopian novel published anonymously in 1872) and turned it into the Erewhon Trading Company, a natural-foods wholesaler. With Dave Smith, he co-founded the Smith & Hawken garden supply company in 1979, a retail and catalog business. In 2008, he co-founded Biomimicry Technologies with biologist Janine Benyus, the author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. He presently heads OneSun, Inc., an energy company focused on ultra low-cost solar based on green chemistry and biomimicry.

He is the author of seven books, including four national bestsellers:

His books have been published in over 50 countries in 27 languages. Growing a Business became the basis of a 17-part PBS series, which Mr. Hawken hosted and produced. The program, which explored the challenges and pitfalls of starting and operating socially responsive companies, was shown on television in 115 countries and watched by over 100 million people.

Hawken was the founder of The Natural Step in the United States. He founded and directs the Natural Capital Institute (NCI) located in Sausalito, California. Its main focus is, an open source database of activists and civil society organizations focused on environmental and social justice. He has served on the boards of many organizations including the Point Foundation (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogs), Center for Plant Conservation, Conservation International, Trust for Public Land, Friends of the Earth, and the National Audubon Society.

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