Living Roofs, Asheville [caption id="attachment_126066" align="alignright" width="397"] The AC Hotel by Marriott in Chapel Hill.[/caption] Nearly 20 years ago, Kate and Emilio Ancaya noticed a trend emerging in other parts
Nearly 20 years ago, Kate and Emilio Ancaya noticed a trend emerging in other parts of the country: rooftops covered in brushy grasses and colorful perennials. They were intrigued by these “green roofs” and the environmental and economic benefits they provided: reduced stormwater runoff, lower air-conditioning costs, and longer lifespans than other roofs. So the couple decided to try it out on their garden shed. In 2006, they founded Living Roofs, and now their designs can be seen throughout the Southeast, from a tropical living wall at Cúrate Bar de Tapas in Asheville to the grassy meadow roof of the AC Hotel by Marriott in Chapel Hill. “We liked the idea of experimenting with a new concept,” Emilio says, “and finding our own way to make a positive impact.”
If a T-shirt from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. or the U.S. National Whitewater Center is sitting in your dresser, there’s a good chance that it’s made, in part, from recycled plastic. Both companies are partners with Recover Brands, a sustainable apparel company that blends recycled plastic and upcycled cotton to make shirts, pullovers, socks, and more. Many first-time customers are shocked at how soft the material is, says cofounder Bill Johnston: “I think people are astonished that you can make something so nice from a recycled product.” He and John Riddle, a family friend with 30 years of experience in the textile industry, founded Recover Brands in 2010, and since then, the company has diverted nearly 11 million plastic bottles from the landfill.
1518 Bryant Street
Charlotte, NC 28208
Yarn and fabric, frames and vases, cookie cutters and Legos: Reconsidered Goods is filled with a colorful collection of donated objects. Teachers, crafters, and kids come to the store to repurpose those unwanted items for both practical and creative endeavors — like when Executive Director Paige Cox used materials in the store to build a wheelchair for a customer’s disabled baby goat. In 2015, Cox attended a boot camp at The Scrap Exchange in Durham to learn how to operate a “creative reuse” business. She brought the concept to Greensboro, and today, the shop is many things: An antiques store. A workshop. A classroom. “It’s retail therapy,” Cox says, “but it’s good for the environment at the same time.”
2805 Patterson Street, No. 2318
Greensboro, NC 27407
While Alyssa Cherry was out shopping one day, she picked up a bottle of soap and thought, Why can’t I just refill this? In 2014, after her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her newborn son developed a benign tumor on his head, Cherry decided to pursue a nontoxic, zero-waste lifestyle. Fortunately, Cherry’s mother and son both recovered, but the experience motivated her to found Fillaree, a soap refill service, in an effort to help the environment and introduce more natural products into her community. Today, Fillaree’s 500 subscribers — individuals as well as companies like The Durham Hotel, Cocoa Cinnamon coffee shop, and Trophy Brewing Co. — can refill hand and body soap, plant-based dish soap, and all-purpose cleaner in scents like lemon-lavender and tangerine-clove through the mail or at one of 32 stations across the country. “Refilling in a way that truly creates little to no waste makes people feel really good,” Cherry says.
“I think it’s important to feel good about our choices.”
3117 Guess Road, Suite A
Durham, NC 27705
In 2005, Dillsboro’s old landfill was sitting idle, creating methane gas that could, officials feared, cause lasting environmental damage if left unchecked. Knowing that a number of professional artists lived nearby, a group of locals decided to implement a gas collection system that would turn the methane into energy to fuel art studios. Today, the Jackson County Green Energy Park features a glass studio and a blacksmith and metal shop powered by methane, as well as a sculpture garden, an art gallery, and a Japanese-style kiln that runs on wood and vegetable oil. “There are a lot of different opportunities out there for discovering and utilizing these nontraditional resources,” says Timm Muth, director of the park. “We’re opening minds up to that fact.”
100 Green Energy Park Road
Dillsboro, NC 28725
Epoch Rain Barrels started in Mark Ray’s garage when he began fitting plastic barrels with spigots to collect rainwater runoff to water his plants. These days, the 50- to 55-gallon barrels — most of which once held pickles and peppers from Mt. Olive Pickle Company — are watering plants across the country. In addition to providing highly oxygenated water for the plants, rain barrels conserve water and decrease erosion from storm surges. And Epoch supports the community, too: In its manufacturing plants in Greenville and Roxboro, about 75 percent of employees have disabilities, says Brooks Dixon, director of sales and marketing. Plus, 5 percent were formerly incarcerated. “We have a very giving heart as a company,” Dixon says. “We give barrels second chances and people second chances.”