For loose change, check your couch cushions. But for lasting change, you’ll want to grab your wallet.
“A whole lot of businesses talked the talk for years about going ‘green,’” said Walter R. Perkins III, CEO of The Hammock Source, the world leader in hammock manufacturing and sales. “But most didn’t start walking the walk till it got to where it cost them not to.”
Perkins himself has been walking it almost since the day he started walking. He grew up routinely pitching in at the family business, which has a nearly 40-year history of operating green (the environment kind) to save a bit of green(the cash kind).
Back in 1971, when Perkins’ dad, Walter R. Perkins Jr., launched the coastal North Carolina company as Hatteras Hammocks out of the trunk of an old Toyota station wagon, no one was shouting about sustainable-business practices or carbon footprints. Perkins Jr. likely would’ve ignored them if they had been, since reusing was what he’d always done anyway, just without the fancy words to call it.
Our goal always was to prevent waste. Helping to save the world, now that was just gravy!
The company’s irrepressible founder, now its chairman, is so reuse-minded that back while he was still employed full time as a buyer for the American Tobacco Company and was hand-making his first hammocks, he’d scavenge old tobacco-curing sticks to craft into his hammock spreader bars.
“Throwing out stuff that could maybe be used some other way has always felt to me like throwing away money,” Perkins Jr. said. “That’s just how I was brought up, I guess. So when my hobby almost overnight started growing into a business, I started looking at how I could stretch my limited resources as far as they could go.”
Take rope scraps. Though few leftovers get produced due to The Hammock Source’s hand-weaving method, reclaimed strands are to this day used for crafting hammock accessories.
Fabric extras are put to good use, too. “Y’know, when we’d cut the rolls of fabric I’d buy to make our quilted ham-mocks,” Perkins Jr. said, “there’d always be scraps and trimmings. But didn’t I pay for whole rolls of fabric?”
The HammockSource now weaves many fabric items from its own cottony-soft, all-weather synthetic yarn, DuraCord – but scraps still don’t go to waste, being converted into plush batting for outdoor pillows. More than just a money-saver, this practice also makes for even more durable pillows.
“It’s a win for customers and a win for us,” CEO Perkins III said. “Not to mention a win for the environment.”
Wood, steel, cardboard and paper scraps, too, are salvaged; recycling companies take ownership of them in exchange for hauling them away. That’s another financial plus, since the local landfill sets its tipping fees based on total garbage weight. So less Hammock Source trash being dumped means fewer HammockSource dollars being dumped, too.
Profitability likewise led the Perkinses into energy conservation. Ventilator fans were installed in manufacturing areas so that high-cost air conditioning needn’t be run at night. DuraCord, though developed for its consumer-friendly qualities, is manufactured using only a fraction of the energy, and water, as is needed for such common textile synthetics as nylon or polyester.
“Our goal always was to prevent waste,” Perkins III said. “Helping to save the world, now that was just gravy!”
So the younger Perkins has to smile whenever he hears of some established company trumpeting its new “green initiative.” Yet as an avid outdoorsman, he’s thankful for any shifts to environmentally supportive practices, regardless of what inspires them.
“I’m a conservationist at heart, because I’m selfish!” he explained. “I want to preserve the places where I go fishing and hunting, and where I spend time with my sons. If we all go spoiling the environment, then I can’t do what I love anymore.”
HammockSource products are sold at specialty and home-improvement stores across the U.S. and Canada, and through a host of higher-end catalogs and online retail sites.