Published May 9, 2013 | By Bret and Mary
We didn’t know much about Asheville, North Carolina– much less its Green Restaurants– despite it being just a 3-hour drive from our hometown of Atlanta. But when we decided to stop there to visit our friends Cristina and Hal of Travel For Wildlife en route to the Outer Banks last month, the folks at Explore Asheville were delighted to educate us about the mountain town’s eco-friendly awesomeness. In retrospect, we’re glad they did.
As it turns out, Asheville is the greenest dining destination in America. Out of 80 members in theAsheville Independent Restaurant Association, 17 are certified as green restaurants by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), the nation’s leading authority on the subject. Their certification standards for green restaurants are pretty intense, grading them on everything from energy consumption and chemical pollution reduction, to water efficiency and waste reduction, to sustainable food and furnishings. In order to maintain their ranking, green restaurants must continually improve sustainability year after year.
The Green Sage • 5 Broadway Street • 828-252-4450
With two locations in Asheville (one downtown, one in the southern suburbs), The Green Sage Coffeehouse & Café is one of only seven GRA 4-star rated green restaurants in the United States. As you might expect, their sustainable approach covers every aspect of their business: all food scraps are composted, used vegetable oil is picked up for conversion to bio-fuel, to-go containers and straws are compostable (the former made from sugar cane, the latter from potatoes), a bicycle is used for food delivery from the downtown location, and all interior elements were made locally (much of it from reclaimed wood and metals).
The southern location even FEELS fresh and clean from the moment you walk in the door, with sage green and sienna orange walls lined with nature/wildlife photos (taken by a local photographer, naturally), plank wooden tables, lime green lamps, and big comfy easy chairs by a big bay window. And of course everything on the menu is made fresh from scratch, using locally sourced organic ingredients whenever possible, with coffee from Fair Trade companies.