As a kid, Amy Strother would bug her parents to pull the car over at a moment’s notice. They would oblige and watch as their daughter ran to scoop up stray pieces of Styrofoam from the side of the road. When she wasn’t removing non-biodegradable materials, Strother was donating her allowance to the World Wildlife Fund and poring over copies of National Geographic, the only magazine she could find back then that discussed green problems and solutions.
“My peers thought it was strange,” Strother says. “They didn’t know what environmentalism was or what I was talking about, really.”
Last month, Strother’s environmentally conscious boutique Noelie Harmon celebrated its third anniversary and Earth Day by reopening at a new location in the eclectic shopping district near the Perkins Road Overpass. “It fits our vibe,” she says.
A year after selling United Home Care Group to Gentiva Inc., Strother is more entrenched than ever in the business of being green. She and business partner Michael Gatz recently purchased Denicola’s Furniture Upholstery in order to design and produce more sustainable furniture. Ironically, though, the boutique owner says her ultimate goal is for Baton Rougeans to consume less.
The problem is that our city does not boycott Styrofoam, but monograms it for game day tailgating. Strother must feel like that teenager, the only one looking out the window for trash and asking her parents to pull over. At least she’s doing the asking in Baton Rouge. Green consumption and construction may be an afterthought for many locals, but Strother’s enthusiasm is as uniquely palpable as the recycled glass countertops and organic, nontoxic baby clothes available at Noelie Harmon. “I decided,” Strother says, “that if I’m going to do it, I have to do it where it is needed the most.”