Groundcover Leather Company

Curry's Post Road
KN

Groundcover Leather Company

Responsible CompanySignificant HabitatEco-ProductsLocal BusinessScenic VistaSocial EnterpriseReuseRecycling

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Groundcover Leather Company was founded in 1990 by Justin and Amanda McCarthy. A family business located on a farm in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands of South Africa, Groundcover is the expression of a lifelong passion for leatherwork and a search for a meaningful livelihood.

From small beginnings we have grown into a sensibly sized, sustainable enterprise and have become well known as makers of original, finely handcrafted leather footwear and accessories. Thanks to the quality of our product, the skills and dedication of our artisans, our old-fashioned customer service and our brand’s association with ‘goodness’ in every way, we have been able to thrive in the face of tough economic conditions and the worst effects of globalisation.

The single most important reason for our success has been the people who make up the Groundcover family. We have been working with one another for a very long time. Most of our workers have been recruited locally, and many live on our farm. Our relationships are based on respect and mutual trust, and we enjoy a very informal working environment. Over the years, we have assisted local entrepreneurs to establish leatherwork, building, maintenance, taxi, trading and music businesses. We subsidise the cost of school fees, books and extramural activities of our workers’ children, and provide them with school transportation. Amanda runs a homework and study class for 15 primary and secondary schoolchildren.

Since we arrived 22 years ago, we have been clearing our valley of alien vegetation, and have planted thousands of indigenous trees. We take an active part in our Conservancy’s efforts to keep Currys Post clean, safe and wildlife-friendly.

As a business, we have always strived to minimise our waste.
Since the beginning, we have offered our customers the opportunity to swop their shoebox’s for a free keyring, allowing us to re-use the cardboard boxes over and over again. Most people are happy with this exchange, and we send them on their way, with their shoes (and keyring) packed in a brown paper bag.
We have a shoe recycling box in our shop where you can drop off your old shoes. Where possible, these are patched up and distributed to people in need.
We have placed bins outside our shop and factory to separate glass, paper, plastic and cans. These are collected monthly by Wildlands Trust and taken away for recycling. Our organic waste is composted for our veggie garden.
We live our philosophy of “Think globally, Act locally”
With the exception of our imported Italian soles, all our raw materials are sourced from local suppliers to minimise the carbon emissions from transport.
We have recently put solar water heaters on all employees’ houses to save on electricity usage.
We have also installed a ram pump in the valley, made by local engineer Dillon Beyers from G-Force pumps, www.gforcepumps.co.za or e-mail dillon.gforcepumps@gmail.com . This is presently pumping 15000 litres a day using NO ELECTRICITY.
Our 2014 tree-planting of 100 indigenous trees has gone well, as we enter spring, so the trees are budding!
In 2010, Earth Patrol was brought in to develop Groundcovers sustainability strategy, and to perform an energy audit of the shop.
This report has given us a baseline, from which to plan our short and long term goals for the whole Groundcover farm.
The intention behind the Groundcover shop is for it to stand alone as a ‘working model’ of sustainability.
The building itself is recycled, having originally been shipped from Germany to South Africa over 100 years ago to a farm in Creighton.In 1992, it was dismantled and trucked to Groundcover where it took over a year to reconstruct.

We are beginning with the installation of rain water tanks. Harvesting rainwater lessens the burden on our natural water reserves, and will supply our shop with all its’ water requirements in the summer months. The surplus water will be used for irrigating the surrounding gardens.The grey water from the basin and bath will be fed through a pebble bed directly into the landscape.We plan to take our lighting in the shop off the grid, by placing solar panels on the roof. We will have a back up connection to Eskom for rainy days, and a meter to monitor energy use, so that we can adjust sizing of the system. The long term goal is to take the whole shop off the grid. This will be an ongoing process going forward.

Groundcover operates in a pristine environment, and we strive to compliment this environment by leaving a legacy that protects our land, water and people.

+27 (0)33 330 6092

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