by Anna Schwartz
Every day, LifeCity’s Business Members are making New Orleans a better, cleaner, and greener in some incredibly innovative ways. We want to recognize the many advances our members have made; the big, the small, the ridiculously simple and the artfully weird. This month we picked some of our favorite innovations LifeCity members have uniquely instituted. From hiring the homeless to rooftop beehives, these businesses are blazing new trails in social and environmental impact. So with no further ado, we give you…
LIFECITY’S TOP TEN INNOVATIONS
1. Bourbon House’s Wine Tap
Yes, the Bourbon House restaurant had made your dream of a steady stream of fine wine a reality. Cutting back on glass bottles, the restaurant innovatively installed two wine taps just like a beer taps over kegs. The green impact? The wine kegs are reused, which makes them more environmentally friendly in addition to faster accessibility, and better service.
2. NOLA Microschools’ Creative Curriculum
With a curriculum of quest-like projects with real-world applications, this member schools us in innovation. NOLA Microschools leads in New Orleans education with emphasis on learning outside the classroom via local experts in our communities. This strategy allows the students to learn in a hands-on environment. Plus students build relationships and discover interests that can turn into internships, and eventually apprenticeships.
3. Tchoup Industries’ Repurposed Fashion
According to this company, fashion accessories in Southern Louisiana should be made sturdy for adventure, but largely of all-natural materials to avoid the negative effects of biohazards on our environment. Among dozens of bags they’ve created, our personal favorite is their epically cool backpack made partially out of a repurposed auto industry nylon strap and rice bag – fashion innovation at its finest.
4. Café Carmo’s Fresher Fish
After undergoing the lengthy process of getting a Wholesale Seafood License rarely issued to singular restaurants, Café Carmo is able to buy its fish directly from New Orleans fisherman instead of going through commercialized middlemen. Not only do they support local economy, Café Carmo’s innovative investment also keeps its fish fresher and tastier. Win, win.
5. Raw Republic’s Cleaner Water
This juice bar uses an innovative water purification system that doesn’t use damaging chemicals. It’s called the Tensui System and while it reduces chlorine and metals found in water, the process concedes vital minerals and nutrients. That’s a lot to swallow but if you want to try it for yourself, bring your own reusable water bottle and they’ll fill it up for free!
6. Downtown Development District’s Hiring the Homeless
Inspiring social innovation takes form in “The New Paths Initiative,” a program unveiled by the New Orleans Downtown Development District aiming to reduce recidivism and unemployment in the homeless and ex-con population. Their innovative plan will provide incentives for companies to employ those who struggle to find their way back into the workforce, transforming their lives for the better.
7. Sheraton New Orleans’ Beehive
What’s on the roof of the New Orleans Sheraton hotel? You’ll never guess. A farmable beehive that the hotel uses to make its own honey. The result is fresh honey and a pollinating bee population for flowers in the city. Bee-yond innovative.
8. InNOLA Events and Design‘s Flower Recycling
Planning beautiful (and sustainable) events like corporate galas and luxury weddings while giving back to the community is all in a day’s work for Maria Maginnis, the owner of InNOLA. “We are launching ‘InNOLA Reuse and Recycle’ on our website,” she says, where all things that would’ve been thrown away from previous events will be available for clients to buy online. “We also have the option to donate your event flowers to non-profit organizations, nursing homes, and local businesses,” says Maginnis. Recycling flowers to beautify New Orleans and lift spirits – simple but powerful innovation.
9. Arc of Greater New Orleans’ Bead Trailer
We already knew that ARC is a leader in ‘greening’ Mardi Gras, but we didn’t know about their brilliant “Catch and Release” trailer this parade season. Giving us no excuse to condemn our beads to the garbage can, the Arc hit the streets with a bead trailer that asks parade goers to throw back their throws once the thrill of catching beads is over. This way, the plastic beads don’t overflow our landfills with toxic chemicals and plastics but are recycled for next festival season.
10. Casa Borrega’s Vintage Architecture
Combining environmental sustainability with architectural beauty is easy for Casa Borrega, an authentic Mexican restaurant with vintage charm and artistic edge. In their renovation, Casa Borrega used nearly 90% of recycled materials from previous constructions. “Stuff from Texas, Mexico, and there’s no shortage to cool stuff from old New Orleans homes,” said owner Linda Stone, “Putting it together is just like a puzzle.” Currently finishing their expansion of the patio, the architectural innovators are using vintage tiles and brick as well as repurposed cast iron gating.