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A Quick Guide to Going Green | Sustainable Fabrics Made in North Carolina

A Quick Guide to Going Green | Sustainable Fabrics Made in North Carolina

One of the most important issues facing the North Carolina Textile Industry, and manufacturing as a whole, is the impact our facilities have on the environment. If you’re a North Carolina resident, you know about the problems pollution creates for our river systems. For decades farm and manufacturing runoff has caused major issues with the quality of our drinking water, especially in our coastal communities. The proof is in the high levels of GenX and other harmful chemicals found in the Cape Fear River Basin, where all of our river systems find their way to the ocean. As you can see in the picture below, pollutants can enter our waters in several ways.

Pollution Flows Downstream

STI Fabrics has set the industry standard for sustainable fabrics with our Revolution Brand Performance Fabrics. In 2014 STI Fabrics introduced the industry’s first chemical-free, up-cycled, environmentally friendly, stain-resistant performance fabric. This fabric has inspired change in the American textile industry over the last several years, which is shown by other companies following in our footsteps. We'll take a look at some of the reasons STI Fabrics is one of the most sustainable manufacturers in American textiles.

Revolution Performance Fabric

1) We Don't Use Harmful Chemicals

What separates STI from most other fabric manufacturers, is the fact that we do not use any PFC Chemicals in our manufacturing process. PFC chemicals are used by other performance fabric brands to achieve a certain level of cleanability. If water beads on a fabric, it has probably been treated with a PFC. These substances, also known as PFOA, PFAS, and PFOS, bond Carbon with Fluorine. This bond is one of the strongest single bonds in chemistry and that’s why they work. The problem is they accumulate in the environment, and growing evidence suggests that they are even more toxic than scientists previously thought. 

2) We Use Up-Cycled Materials

Instead of using these harsh chemicals, we use up-cycled polypropylene, also known as Olefin. Olefin is a byproduct of refining petroleum. For many years, it was discarded or simply burned off. In 1963, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was won by the scientists who discovered a use for this unique polymer. All Revolution Fabrics are made from 100% pre-consumer petroleum byproducts. According to the Higg Index below, because polypropylene is produced from former waste, it has the smallest carbon footprint of any upholstery fiber. 

Higg Index for sustainability


Polypropylene scores the highest on the Higg Index

In fact, polypropylene scores the highest on the Higg Index with a score of 36.1 due to the fact that it uses little land, water, or energy and produces very little waste. For reference, silk comes in second on the index with a score of 30.7. It scores high for sustainability, but silk production emits high levels of greenhouse gasses.

Cotton comes in third with a score of 26.8.  Cotton takes a hit for heavy use of land and water, bleaches, and other chemicals used in processing, which puts it in middling rank despite its green reputation. Wool and Bamboo score even lower due to the fact that they require even more resources and heavier processing due to the scratchy fibers.

You might not necessarily picture a green product when you think of synthetic material. But as demonstrated by the Higg Index, you can see that many fibers billed as green take up loads of environmental resources like land, water, and energy while using harsh chemicals in the processing of those fibers. 

3) We Use Fewer Resources

Historically, the textile industry has used massive amounts of water in the dying process. At STI Fabrics we are committed to using water-free dying techniques. Our dying comes from melting natural pigments into our polypropylene pellets to create the yarn. We then source that yarn within 300 miles of our manufacturing facility. 

Less water use has had a profound impact on the environment. For reference, one kilo of cotton yarn requires an average of 6,000 gallons of water. Keeping that number in mind, the average sofa uses around 15 yards of fabric, and 15 yards of Revolution fabric weighs just over 8 kilos or 18 pounds. Simply put, if you purchase a sofa made with our Revolution fabric, you just saved the environment over 48,000 gallons of water. With Brentwood Textiles, STI, and Revolution Fabrics’ continued growth, you can see how this positive environmental impact will continue to grow with us. 

What Next? 

In 2021 California passed legislation to begin banning the use of PFC chemicals in manufacturing processes. With this trend expected to continue, other manufacturers are scrambling to incorporate PFC-free alternatives like polypropylene in their manufacturing processes. STI Fabrics has positioned itself as the leader in creating environmentally friendly, chemical-free performance fabrics. We are also proudly Greenguard Gold Certified and a leading member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council. 

Greenguard certified fabrics

Community Outreach | Prison to Community Simulation

Community Outreach | Prison to Community Simulation
STI Fabrics has been an integral part of the Kings Mountain, NC, community for nearly 6 decades. As the business grows, our impact on the community grows with it, and we are determined to make that impact a positive one for generations to come. Our latest Community Outreach Initiative has been highlighted by our involvement with Gaston County Corrections and their Work Release Program. 
Since the start of the partnership in 2019, about 40 inmates have come to work at our plant, weaving and warping yarn, cleaning facilities, preparing the fabric, and performing other duties needed around the business. The program's success is due in large part to our existing workforce giving it a chance to grow. 
At this time, offenders are only permitted by the prison to work the first shift.  STI hopes they will be permitted back on third shift shortly. While here, the inmates have to follow strict rules set by Gaston Correctional Center to remain employed. A single infraction can take an inmate out of the program, and it can take years to get back in. 

Work Release by the Numbers

Of the 30 inmates sent to work at STI in the last year, 12 are still employed through the Work Release Program, 18 have been released and returned to their homes, and 10 have come back to work full time at the plant. That means 56% of work-released inmates come back to work at STI. A recent study by Northwestern University found that employees with records had a 13% lower turnover rate, saving the company $1,000 per year for each hired inmate and increasing our overall retention rate. Because felons have such a difficult time finding jobs, when they do, they tend to keep them longer.
Another reason our retention rate is so high with the Work Release offenders is that we start them at $15/hour. According to Zip Recruiter, North Carolina ranks lowest nationwide for felony job salaries with a state average of only $11.08/hour. 
By offering offenders a livable wage, we allow them to make (and save) enough money while incarcerated so that when they are finally released, they will have the ability to pay for basic things like transportation, food, and housing. Once they are released, they have other opportunities to increase their pay by working different shifts and applying for other positions in the company while also qualifying for healthcare and retirement benefits.  
Officer Jennell McCorkle, Recent Hire Nathan Hopper, HR Manager Sandra Jenkins

Challenges Upon Re-entry

Kevin Young, one of the first inmates to work at STI in 2019, returned to the plant last year after leaving prison, in part due to the relationships he made with our HR team and his co-workers. Life in prison is extremely difficult but getting out also brings challenges. In 2020 the N.C. Department of Public Corrections nixed a program that allowed inmates to get an ID while in prison. This has left many offenders in a catch-22 when trying to find a place to live or a way to work.
“It’s been progressive. They have helped me advance, STI has. They’ve cross-trained me on just about every job in the weaving department. Sandra has tried to help me get a license and a place to live. Hotels are expensive,” said Young. “All of the people I work with are all reasonable about it. There are some that don’t want anything to do with (inmates), but you have that everywhere you go. But the rest of the people, they’ve all been helpful. They’ve helped me advance even when I was still incarcerated.” 
-Kevin Young
For example, to get a drivers license in North Carolina you need two verifiable forms of address. You have to show proof of residency in the form of a utility bill, so hotels do not count. The catch-22 is that you cannot get a lease to rent without a driver’s license. 
*Update* Kevin has secured a license, a car, and permanent housing in Kings Mountain thanks to a relationship built between Sandra and a local property owner.  This would not be successful without these types of community partners.
Since our involvement with the Work Release Program, STI has become hyperaware of these issues and has sponsored and supported causes related to solving the problems facing re-entry. One of those causes has been a newly added men’s shelter in Shelby, NC. We recently donated $1000 to Trailhead Men’s Shelter and equipped them with the furniture they need to house and help men in Cleveland County get back on their feet. Shelters like these become instrumental in providing a temporary place to live once released from incarceration. 

Cleveland Community College has been instrumental in providing a facility to educate offenders.

Although several local correctional facilities do not offer a work-release program, they do offer educational programs through higher learning. Cleveland Community College has been instrumental in providing a facility to educate those offenders. They recently inherited a prison that closed in 2008 on adjacent property and repurposed it into an educational facility for offenders. Here they can learn trades that are in high demand such as Plumbing, Electrical, Carpentry, and Welding. 
More often than not, many offenders who have completed their courses have already acquired trade skills and the education needed to perform the jobs we are hiring for while in jail or prison. By establishing these relationships in the community, STI is seeking to create a pipeline of qualified individuals looking to begin a career in textile manufacturing upon their release. We understand the valuable skills that many of these folks possess and the confidence they gain in knowing they have an occupation after their release.

Prison to Community Simulation

Last week, STI Fabrics sponsored an event dedicated to bringing awareness to the problems surrounding re-entry in Shelby, North Carolina. We teamed up with Officer Jennell McCorkle who runs a Prison 2 Community (P2C) Simulation titled, "In Their Shoes."  
In Their Shoes is designed to show the general public exactly how difficult it is to navigate society upon release from jail or prison. In this simulation, you are assigned a new identity and given different paths to take upon your release from prison.

For an in-depth recap of the event, visit EdNC's article by clicking here.

CCC Prison 2 Community Simulation
The simulation is not only designed to bring attention to this issue, but also to provide the necessary resources offenders need after being released. The simulation provides an opportunity for community leaders to network and share their resources. In Their Shoes has garnered the attention of many high-ranking state officials including NC Governor Roy Cooper, House Speaker Tim Moore, along with community leaders on the local level. 
               Dr. Jason Hurst, President of CCC 

“The partnership between Cleveland Community College and STI has been developed over the past several years and has positively impacted both students and adults.  I have always been impressed with the vision and leadership of STI in looking for opportunities to improve the awareness, training, and community impact of manufacturing in Cleveland County.  STI continues to be innovative through apprenticeship and inmate re-entry programs that change the lives of people.  STI has become a valuable business leader in our county whether it is with the K-12 school system, CCC, Economic Development, or the Chamber of Commerce.  I can say that we are stronger as a community because of the partnership and leadership of STI.”

-Tony Fogleman, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development for CCC

This initiative not only has a positive impact on STI by creating a pipeline of qualified job candidates but also has a profound impact on our surrounding communities by providing jobs to people who previously may not have been hired due to social stigmas. These jobs create an opportunity to pay taxes and child support while creating a residual economic impact on surrounding area businesses. STI Fabrics is proud of the work we’ve done and the work we continue to do to bring new opportunities to underrepresented people in our community.

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Things to do in Kings Mountain, NC | STI Fabrics

Things to do in Kings Mountain, NC | STI Fabrics

Quick Answer: Kings Mountain North Carolina is filled with many great physical and healthy activities to enjoy with your family, friends, and co-workers. Read more to see our five favorite things to do in Kings Mountain.


February is American Heart Health Month and with the current Covid crisis there has never been a better time to focus on your physical well-being. The statistics are staggering when it comes to heart disease. Nearly 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths according to the CDC.  Heart disease costs the United States over $363 billion each year. This includes the cost of health care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death.

Common causes of heart disease include, 

There are no magic pills you can take to avoid heart disease. Believe it or not, if you simply apply a few healthy habits to your routine, you can dramatically lower your risk of heart disease. Simple habits like eating healthy foods and exercising daily can not only improve your heart health, but also improve your overall happiness and wellbeing.  

At STI, we understand the importance of a healthy work/life balance. That’s why we want to highlight some healthy benefits of living and working at STI Fabrics in King’s Mountain, North Carolina. So, let's get to it!

1) Boulder Access at Crowders Mountain State Park

Only a 10 minute drive from STI Fabrics, our employees are able to quickly access one of the most underrated state parks this side of the Mississippi River- Crowders Mountain State Park. From your casual hikers to your serious climbers, Crowders has a little bit of everything for any level outdoor enthusiast. 

After a long day of work, there’s no healthier way to unwind than to hit the trail for a run/hike or a climb. Not only are you rewarded with all of those healthy endorphins from the exercise, the views aren’t so bad either. On a clear day, you can see the Charlotte skyline and even all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. Trust us, you’ll be happy just knowing you’re not one of the poor folks sitting in that Charlotte 5 o’clock traffic.

2)   Kings Mountain YMCA 

 “It’s fun to stay at the YMCA.” 

It’s also fun to work out at the Y! Our very own fabric designer Glen Read has a membership to the Kings Mountain YMCA. When he’s not using his home gym or working out at “The Office” in Lake Wylie where he lives, he enjoys lifting free weights at the King’s Mountain YMCA. 

“It’s nice to have a gym so close to work. If I missed my morning workout and want to hit the gym on my lunch break or after work, the Y is always there- it’s also nice that STI employees receive 10% off their membership.”

-Glen Read

That’s right, STI employees receive 10% off their membership. To find out more information about The Kings Mountain Family YMCA simply visit the link in the above paragraph. 


3)   Kings Mountain Gateway Trail

 Another beautiful running and walking trail is the historic Kings Mountain Gateway Trail.  The mostly flat, crushed gravel trail begins in a nice wooded area and winds along the edge of a mica mine and a drive-in theater. 10 miles in total length, Runners, walkers and cyclists enjoy a mixture of wildlife including birds of prey and beaver dams along the creek.

 “The Gateway Trail is a great place to run” according to STI’s very own Bobbie Morrow. Bobbie and co-worker Stacey Bolin are known to run several 5k’s every year and they use the Gateway trail for training purposes. They even ran an STI sponsored Warrior Dash with several other STI co-workers. 

Pictured: STI Chaplain Tim Cochran, Accountant Stacey Bolin, and IT Bobbie Daggerhart 

For more information about the trail’s access points, reviews and pictures of the trail, visit the All Trails link below!

4)   Pinnacle Trail Hike 

The Gateway Trail is nice, but for those runners and hikers seeking more elevation, the trail to the top of King’s Pinnacle will make you feel the burn. One of two peaks on Crowders, the Pinnacle Trail climbs up to 1,706 feet and is one of the best views of the Carolinas. On one side, you can see the entire Charlotte skyline and on a clear day you can even see the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina- One of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. 

This trail can be busy on the weekends but quiet on weekdays before or after work. Pinnacle Trail is a 4.2 mile out and back trail located near Kings Mountain, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and rock climbing and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Hiking this trail is one of the best ways to unwind, destress, and decompress after a long day. For more info about the Pinnacle Trail and other trail systems in Crowders Mountain State Park, simply visit the link below.


5)  Disc Golf at East Gold Street Wesleyan Church

Within walking distance from STI is East Gold Street Wesleyan Church. Pastor Scott Whitney has served the East Gold Street Wesleyan Church congregation, since July 2011. After graduating from high school in Birch Run, Michigan he moved to Central, South Carolina to pursue his Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion at Southern Wesleyan University.

It’s clear that Pastor Scott understands the importance of having an active spirit and treating the body like the temple it is with the amount of activities his church offers. One of them being FREE disc golf open to the general public and the Kings Mountain Community. There’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors and get your steps in than a beautiful disc golf course located in the heart of Kings Mountain. Furthermore, Pastor Scott just opened his basketball courts up to the YMCA for use as well. For more info about Pastor Scott and the wonderful things his congregation is doing for the community please visit:


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