Asheville is known as one of the healthiest and greenest cities in America. Whether it’s for their progressive green initiatives, selection of organic food coops and vegan restaurants, or their educational resources on sustainable living, it’s not difficult to see why people are moving to the area in search of a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. Let’s explore why Asheville is a city at the forefront of environmental change and some of the local resources available to help you live better and more sustainably.
Asheville NC: Leading the Green Initiative
What makes Asheville so healthy and green? What’s the secret to a happier, more fulfilling, sustainable lifestyle? Residents of Asheville NC practice healthy and green habits by centering their lives around the outdoors. Exercise and other wellness activities outside work to foster a deep connection with nature. A shared appreciation for the outdoors helps people focus on and hold each other accountable for their healthy activities and food choices. They continually look for ways to give back to the spaces where they work, live, and grow.
Healthy Living in Asheville NC
Outdoor wellness and activity are built into the city’s culture. Residents opt for walking, biking, and hiking over vehicular transportation. The city itself is designed to facilitate activity that saves energy and takes advantage of the outdoors. Whether they’re walking through parks in town or hiking in the preserved land around Asheville, outside is usually where residents want to be. Why? Maybe it’s something in that fresh mountain air.
In addition to making healthy exercise choices, Asheville NC residents make responsible decisions with their food. From shopping local and supporting small farms to eating in-season produce that’s grown with organic practices, this community cares where its food comes from, and works to make sure all have access to healthy, nutritional options. Also, the growing popularity of veganism for the many environmental and health benefits has led to the appearance of more vegan dining options as well as health food stores and co-ops across the area.
Residents also take time to participate in extracurricular activities to support the community through volunteering to plant trees, growing their own organic produce, or even living in small sustainable communities built around environmentalist ideals. Here are a few popular, environmentally-focused volunteering opportunities in Asheville NC:
Equal parts street fair, farmers market, and festival, Organicfest is a regularly scheduled staple in the Asheville NC community. This event hosts workshops for green projects and crafts, features rotating food vendors, live music, and family activities like a parade and kid-friendly projects to celebrate health and wellness, organic produce and sustainable living.
Organic Growers School
This nonprofit was established in 1993 to assist farmers, home growers, and community activists in empowering people to learn to grow their own food successfully and sustainably. They host conferences, publish gardening guides, offer consultations for home growers, and have a very informative blog on their website.
Sustainable Living in Asheville NC
It’s not easy being green. It takes a lot of work on the individual level as well as community-wide efforts to push forward environmental change. Ordinary residents, local farmers, and environmental activists share a grassroots connection and incorporate green decisions into every part of their community: where they live, where they grow their food, and where they do business.
From shopping for in-season produce, to green-building homes, to powering the city with clean energy, Asheville residents influence the city’s efforts with their buying decisions and their votes. Two Asheville-founded organizations involved in home building and environmental policy in the city of Asheville are the Green Built Homes Program, and Asheville GreenWorks.
Green Built Homes Program
The Green Built Homes program, started by the Green Built Alliance, provides certifications for homes built with sustainable practices, such as the preservation of existing trees to limit possible runoff, the implementation of water and energy efficient fixtures including lighting, plumbing and irrigation, as well as efficient and sealed heating and cooling systems, the improvement indoor air quality, and the use of building materials that are recycled and locally-sourced.
Asheville Greenworks started the Cool Green Asheville campaign, which, in partnership with Asheville Climate Action Initiative (ACAI), studied the effects of climate change on a growing city and formulated a plan to combat climate problems with green solutions. Some of the problem areas they focus on are: the urban heat island effect, excessive stormwater runoff, decreased air and water quality, more energy consumption, and decreased biodiversity. Proposed solutions include initiatives such as: urban canopy enhancement, green roofs, and local forest conservation education and advocacy.
Asheville NC’s Goals for Sustainability
Already in Asheville NC there are existing sustainability movements with big goals to move the area to
100 percent renewable energy city-wide. To encourage residents to pursue clean energy in their own homes, the city of Asheville NC is setting the example.
With annual benchmarks of 4% reductions of reliance on nonrenewable energy sources, the city plans to reduce the carbon footprint of municipal utilities by 80 percent by 2050. The city has been working toward this goal since 2008, and hopes to see municipal operations powered by 100 percent renewables in 2030.
The city’s efforts are paired with education for citizens about energy-saving practices, and the development of groups to identify the areas with the highest energy usage to find ways to reduce consumption. Asheville is investing in its own sustainable future by pursuing new avenues of energy creation from renewable sources, while involving the community in decisions to not only include them in the initiative’s efforts but to hold the city and participating organizations accountable.
Getting Involved with Sustainable Living
Want to be part of the green initiative? Whether you live in Asheville NC or want to reap the benefits of an eco-conscious lifestyle, you can be a part of the effort for living a mindful, more sustainable life. Whether you cast your vote in the polls or through your organic buying decisions, you can have an impact on the sustainable living movement in your community. Some ways you can help are:
- Build a garden and raise your own food.
- Contribute to local pollinator populations.
- Reduce your carbon footprint by decreasing energy usage, avoiding single use plastic, or going vegan.
- Support local green organizations through donations, volunteering, or buying choices.
- Live in a sustainable community centered around energy efficiency, outdoor appreciation, and environmental practices.
If you want to pursue sustainable living in the Asheville NC community, you’ll love living at Couch Mountain. Here, we value sustainability and strive for environmentally-conscious building practices. To learn more about life in our community, reach out to us online.
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