Bob King has always loved nature. Growing up in central New Jersey, he spent as much time as possible “fishing, trudging through the woods, swimming—anything to get closer to wild places.” The company he founded, Humanscale, is committed to environmental sustainability and continually strives to create ergonomic products that consume less of the Earth’s resources. He has been a member of WWF’s National Council since 1999 and has partnered with WWF to protect Cambodia's Eastern Plains.
You’ve devoted significant resources to preserving the Eastern Cambodian ecosystem. Why?
What drew me to the Eastern Plains was its history as an ecosystem that supported some of Asia’s most abundant populations of large mammals—leopards, elephants, wild cattle.
After 40 years of devastation at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, followed by relentless poaching, many of these species were pushed to the brink of extinction.
Humanscale partnered with WWF in 2008 to stop the destruction and protect this remarkable landscape, and today, the picture is quite different. The population of endangered species has increased and there is a new abundance of wildlife, whereas 10 year ago, you may not have seen any animals if you spent a day hiking there. It’s truly remarkable to see that kind of change—and it gives me hope that we can gain momentum and have a transformational effect on our planet.
How is Humanscale helping to protect the planet?
We’ve always worked hard to minimize our environmental impact—for example, our largest manufacturing facility in New Jersey operates on solar power. Our products use as few materials as possible and we work to ensure those materials are sustainable. We’ve reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by over 10% for the past two years.
Yet even though we have many environmental goals that we monitor closely, we understand these changes alone are not going to protect endangered species or preserve habitats that are being destroyed. With all of the devastation to the environment, having a goal of only minimizing our environmental footprint is not nearly enough. At Humanscale, we believe it is our obligation to make a significant net positive impact on the Earth. And that’s why we continue to commit substantial resources to the Cambodia project.
Did your outdoor adventures as a child contribute to your passion for conservation?
Absolutely. As a kid, I took every opportunity to get outside and explore. In the summer, I spent whole days swimming in local rivers and ponds. We got our parents to take us to the Delaware River to see the annual shad run. Today’s children have such limited exposure to nature. It’s important to me that my kids experience nature firsthand, develop a personal connection with it, and understand how crucial it is to protect it.