Green Plus: Sustainability for All

9 Nov

Green Plus is a bit of a hidden gem in the Durham community. Tucked back on Gilbert Street is one of the most innovative sustainability programs in the area, if not the country.

Sure, huge corporations like Walmart and Target grab the headlines for their efforts to be green, but just as it’s the small and medium-sized businesses that drive the economy; they’re also the ones that need to lead the charge for a cleaner tomorrow.

The small, tight-knit team of Sarah Kate Fishback, Kirsten Hausman, and Chris Carmody, the director, help business owners find the sustainability practices that keep them competitive while doing some good. As Sarah Kate and Kirsten put it, their goal is “Democratizing sustainability. To help small businesses get the information they need to make sustainable changes.”

Sarah Kate oversees the operations of the Green Plus program. She covers everything from customer service to technology to working with the student interns. Chances are if you’ve called or emailed Green Plus, you’ve talked Sarah Kate.

Kirsten’s the Director of Communications and Client Services for the program. She makes sure the tools are available for businesses to use and works with Chambers of Commerce to recruit more companies to the program.  In addition she helps with events and works to keep up with Green Plus members to check in on their progress.

Their Commitment to Sustainability Runs Deep

The issue of sustainability runs deep in K

risten’s family. “I got into sustainability because I grew up overseas, in Africa. In Niger is where it started to happen.  My mom worked with Peace Corps volunteers and with the Agency for International Development and basically her focus was sustainable development. I moved from the states at the age of 8 or 9 to go to a place where clean water is an issue for a lot of people. It blew my mind!” She brought those profound experiences back with her and that has powered her passion ever since.

Sara Kate’s history started in college in Business School where she saw business separating itself from the community and environment. After college she worked at Google, where she experienced a very different model. “People were passionate about not only the business, but also about sustainable practices. Café 150 was one of my favorite examples; all of the food in the café was from within 150 miles of the campus. From planting a garden on campus to installing solar panels to encouraging volunteerism it was just a different way of thinking about business.  I think we’re missing out by looking at business so narrowly; we could have happier employees, healthier environments, and more just environments.”

To Sara Kate and Kirsten the stories are the most rewarding part of the job. It’s the stories that show how Green Plus brings real change to businesses.  They had some great stories about small businesses that have gone through the program with unbelievable results. I want to do those stories justice, so they’ll go in their own post.

This is the $100 question I ask to every non-profit I interview. “What would a gift of $100 mean to the organization?”

Kirsten and Sarah Kate: “It’ll help us do more outreach and events so we can spread the word about Green Plus.”

How You Can Get Involved

“We would love and encourage your financial donations. We could use some help funding our marketing efforts and technology to reach even more businesses.

Also, we love to see champions in the public. If you’re passionate about this program, we’d love to hear from you. We’d love for self-motivated people to help us get the message out.”

Here’s how you can contact them:





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