When Garden & Gun added the first-ever Sustainability category to the magazine’s thirteenth annual Made in the South Awards, presented in partnership with Explore Asheville, applications rolled in by the dozens. The small batch North Carolina rug maker Installments eventually took top honors, but selecting just one Sustainability Award winner proved to be an even more difficult task than we expected.
To honor other forward-thinking Southern decision makers who have committed to the environment by incorporating eco-friendly practices into their processes, we rounded up seven more companies that put sustainability at the heart of their business—all while being best in class. Products.
Most of the coffee and tea you start your morning with is imported, and while some producers make their home in the United States, yaupon is the only caffeinated plant native to North America—Native American tribes harvested and brewed the hardy species that thrive even in drought conditions for thousands of years. A decade ago, Abianne Falla discovered yaupon growing wild on her family ranch and eventually turned the tasty untapped resource into beverage company CatSpring Yaupon. Today, CatSpring sustainably wild harvests its yaupon across Texas, meaning they use no excess water in growing their plants and adhere to the highest organic standards, which has earned them a prestigious regenerative organic certification.
Sustainability isn’t just at the heart of this Nashville-based home brand, it’s literally in the name. Cleo – which stands for clean, local, ethical, organic – was founded by three friends after years of struggling to find household products that checked these boxes, but were also beautifully packaged and, most importantly, effective . Today, their collection of sustainably produced cleaning products includes a dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, hand soap, universal cleaning spray and room spray. Each product comes in sleek (refillable!) glass bottles that you don’t have to hide under the sink.
For Emma Allen, founder of Everyday Oil, less is more. It turns out that when you cut out synthetic ingredients and swap in high-quality, organic and wild-harvested botanical oils that naturally moisturize, cleanse and nourish, you don’t need a dozen skin care and beauty products. Instead, a small bottle of Everyday Oil, made in small batches in Black Mountain, North Carolina, can be used as a cleanser, makeup remover and moisturizer for your face, body and hair. The simple, super clean formula starts with a base of organic jojoba, olive, argon, castor and coconut oils before being subtly scented with herbal notes of either wild-harvested or organic palo santo, lavender, blood orange, sage, bergamot and patchouli . The unisex oil comes in a reusable glass bottle, and the company is currently expanding their refill program.
Alex K. Mason, the founder and director of Kentucky-based textile studio Ferrick Mason, looks to the natural world for inspiration for the bulk of the designs she creates for her line of wall coverings and fabrics. So from her perspective, it only makes sense to protect the fragile resource by incorporating as many sustainable materials and eco-friendly practices as she can into the production process. To that end, 100 percent of Ferrick Mason’s fabrics and wall coverings, including a new patterned grasscloth, are biodegradable—printed to order on natural, sustainably grown materials like linen, cotton, and sisal to reduce waste. In addition, the company digitally prints more than 75 percent of its stock, which uses less water than traditional printing methods and non-toxic dyes.
Moore and Giles
Virginia leathergoods luminary Moore & Giles has relied on sustainable practices since its founding in 1933, but three recent collections – Reclaimed, Seven Hills and Olive Tanned – take their commitment to eco-friendly production to a new level. The Reclaimed series features a capsule collection of utilitarian bags made from slightly imperfect leather that had been left to languish in the warehouses of the company’s tannery partners and recycled for new uses. Seven Hills, on the other hand, is the result of a local partnership with Lynchburg, Virginia’s Seven Hills Food Company; Moore & Giles use the cattle farm’s leftover hides that would otherwise be heading for landfill. But the Olive Tanned collection is perhaps the most innovative of the bunch: Moore & Giles collects olive leaves – a by-product of the olive oil industry that is typically burnt – and brews them to create a natural non-toxic tanning agent that is 100 percent organic and mineral-free.
Founded by Gina Wicker in 2019, this North Carolina textile company uses recycled materials wherever possible, but places extra emphasis on the other two R’s, working to reduce waste and reusing tools like the vintage looms they salvaged and recycled from a now closed mill. Their small batch weaving process also allows them to use small amounts of leftover yarn that would be discarded at a larger mill. The remaining yarn is a blend of natural fibers grown by local farmers using regenerative farming methods and eco-friendly options such as alpaca wool, among others. Additionally, the resulting quality heirlooms, encompassing all three of Native Spun’s unique collections, are designed to outlast you – further minimizing industry waste.
Every year, the global fashion industry generates more than 92 million tons of textile waste and is among the world’s most environmentally friendly industries. But slowly, a growing number of fashion insiders, like the founders of Raleigh, North Carolina’s Pamut Apparel, are switching to slow fashion, which focuses on minimizing waste by creating classic designs thoughtfully crafted to transcend trends that last more years than seasons . At Pamut, each of their all-natural fabrics is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified, recycled and/or low-impact, which means they require less water and dye to produce. Garments are made to order, which results in zero excess inventory, but also allows the team to customize the size for individual customers and create a custom fit. Even scrap fabric scraps are turned into smaller items or sold as craft bundles – a quilter’s dream.