Businesses Going for the Green

Article from Natural Awakenings Magazine  November 2012 Issue 

By Colleen Morgan 

real oneBusinesses are already gearing up for the  2012-13  Gumbo Green Games     sustainable business competition, which will officially launch at the monthly Green Drinks event taking place on November 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Icehouse, located at 2803 St. Phillip Street in New Orleans. Green Drinks events are open to all who are interested in creating a sustainable world.

The Gumbo Green Games, a partnership of Natural Awakenings Magazine and LifeCity, is a competition among businesses who are seeking to improve their environmental performance. Businesses in the categories of retail, restaurant, office, nonprofit, or manufacturing can participate. LifeCity will conduct assessments to help the contestants develop sustainability goals, make recommendations, and provide resources to help them achieve their goals.

As the contestants for the second year of Gumbo Green Games were lining up to the starting gate, Natural Awakenings got a chance to chat with a few about how they are gearing up for the Games. Here is what some of them had to say about it.


C4 Tech and Design signed up for the Games because the business, which is a worker co-op, has a staff of “progressive and socially conscious folks” who want the company to be as environmentally sustainable as possible, said web designer Drew Stephan. “We want to be a good community member and a good member of the global community of businesses,” he said.

In addition to recycling and using environmentally friendly office supplies, this computer repair and web design company encourages its clients to go paperless. He encourages other businesses to consider signing up for the Games also. “It’s a great idea to have a central organization that can prescribe a punch list of what to do.  Visit C4Tech and Design at

Vance Levesque of the Arc of Greater New Orleans also stayed in the Games to connect with other participating businesses to learn new strategies. This nonprofit, more than 60 years old, serves intellectually disabled citizens with a variety of programs, including several enterprises that allow the clients to make a living wage. Levesque said last year’s Green Games gave the Arc the motivation to expand the Mardi Gras Bead Recycling Program.

“We were able to initiate our “catch & release” bead recycling trailer-float after winning the Green the Gras competition from LifeCity, which won rave reviews from everyone,” he said. “It would not have been possible without that boost from the Green Games!” More on Arc’s programs at

Rosalie Torres participated last year by helping to organize the Green Natties and was one of the first to sign up for round two. Her company, New Orleans Green LLC, creates all-natural flower arrangements, indoor and outdoor potted plants, accessories, gifts and household items crafted out of repurposed materials. Her goal is to have a “very small carbon footprint” by using recycled pots and packaging, locally-grown plants, composted soil, and harvested rain water.

In addition to improving her business’ environmental performance and networking with “like-minded” business owners, Torres hopes to “contribute to the green economy in New Orleans and help raise local awareness about sustainability.” Visit New Orleans Green at

Cake-Cafe-BakeryCake Café, a bakery and cafe in the Marigny, is a new participant in the Green Games. Steve Himelfarb, the head baker and owner, said he hopes the Games will help him find new ways to be green.

“That is a life decision – one that I pursued from the time I opened the place” five years ago, he said. “We have been progressively moving toward totally sustainable products since the beginning – all compostable, recyclable, biodegradable – as much as we can.” He added that 70 to 85 percent of the waste the café generates can be reused in some way.

The café specializes in cakes and pastries, but also serves a full breakfast and lunch, uses only the freshest ingredients. All the bread, fillings and accoutrements are made from scratch. “We do more baking than most bakeries,” Himelfarb said. He said joining the contest has energized his staff of 16. “We are going to win it all, man!” he said. “We are up at 5 a.m. every morning, training for the Games.”  More about Cake Café at

The competition will last for six months and culminate in the Green Natties awards event where the highest achievers will receive awards and all contestants will be recognized and celebrated for their part in the sustainable business community.

Learn more about the Gumbo Green Games and how to sign up at

Colleen Morgan is a free-lance writer and environmental editor for Natural Awakenings magazine. She may be reached at