Getting Green With French Paper

Lately we’ve been getting in an eco groovy mood and have been looking through our ingredients and supplies to see if we can get a little greener.  This is a fun exercise we do several times a year because we just don’t think its a good idea to rest on our environmentally conscientious laurels.

So, you may be wondering what little gem our search uncovered?  Only a sixth-generation, family owned paper company that has been making paper in the USA for 140 years.  Hold on, it gets better!  In 1922 the French Paper company installed hydroelectric generators on the St. Joseph River which flows by their mills in Niles, Michigan.  Since that year, they have been generating all the power they needed, and a little extra for the rest of us!

Here is an old school post card with a pic of the French Paper mills next to the river


The environmental impact of producing all that power on site is huge.  They have saved the equivalent of one million barrels of fossil fuel and have avoided the release of more than 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere (the equivalent to the use of over 4,878,049 lbs of coal).  While we are big fans of carbon credits and support companies buying these to offset their carbon footprint, credits just can’t beat this type of onsite, renewable energy!  Way to go French Paper!


So you are probably reading this thinking, Wayne, this is really cool but what does a paper mill in Michigan have to do with  Whispering Willow , a little soap company in North Carolina. Well, it just so happens that we use thousands of sheets of paper annually labeling bar soap, neck & eye pillows and more.  So, in the coming weeks you will notice that the labels will look a little different.  We are transitioning to French Paper’s Speckletone kraft paper.   Speckletone is French Paper’s line of recycled paper which they have been making since 1955 (talk about being ahead of the trend)! Our labels will be a little lighter in color and you will see more natural flecks and shives.    We will also eventually start using French’s standard copy paper for our office use and are working on some ideas that may be perfect for some of French Paper’s other lines of great paper.

So this is how I (known for being a little wordy) like to announce that we are changing our paper supplier.  Whoever said ‘brevity is the soul of wit’, just didn’t get it!

Be Well,

The Bearded Soap Guy

Local Eats: Fosters

Foster's Durham

A few weekends ago, Wayne and I headed to Raleigh for the Handmade Market.  We lived in Durham for a short period, so the area is fairly familiar to us.  When it came time to choose where to eat breakfast, there was no arguing – we went to Foster’s Market in Durham. Continue reading

Wrap-up: The Handmade Market

Handmade Market Banner

In April this year I headed to Raleigh for The Handmade Market.  I had such a great time, we decided to try their holiday show as well.  Both markets are put on by the Handmaidens – a group of wonderfully talented women who strive to bring attention to handmade artists. I know putting on a market like this is no small undertaking and I salute them. Continue reading

Wrap Up: LAAFF

LAAFF 2011

And so, our love affair with Asheville continues.  This weekend we had the pleasure of vending at the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF).  It was the first time for us, and the 10th year for them. I must say that it was the most fun we’ve had in quite some time.   As usual, I made the rounds and took tons of pictures to share. Continue reading

Wrap-up: Atherton Market

Last weekend was our very first Saturday at Atherton Mill & Market.  Wayne and I both adore this market and we had a fantastic time.  I, of course, ran around with my camera a bit, but I didn’t get a good picture of the entrance.  Thankfully another blogger came to my rescue.  You can even see Wayne and I in the picture below (a rarity since I’m always behind the camera!).

Atherton Mill & Market(photo borrowed from Life Undeveloped)

Saturdays at Atherton are quite a bit busier than the weekdays.  There are more vendors, more visitors, and some entertainment.  We had a fantastic time listening to Mike Bustin for a good portion of the morning.  He had everyone singing along or (at least) tapping their feet.

We spent the day outside under one of the orange tents.  The weather cooperated and it was quite pleasant.  There were four or five of the vendors outside.  We tried a slightly different setup and were quite happy with the result:

Belle Terre at Atherton

Next to us was Round Table.  Lots of sweets and breads. Yum!  She had quite the following and sold out early.

Round Table

And beside that was Red Dirt Ranch.  Wayne has spent a bit of time talking to them other days.  We were excited to learn that they are off grid!

Red Dirt Ranch

The other side of us was a pasta vendor – Rio Bertolini’s – selling pasta made in Charleston.  I pre-ordered a mess of stuff for Wayne to bring home including a beet and goat cheese ravioli.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Heading inside, the building itself is absolutely gorgeous.  It’s an old mill that was converted into areas for several businesses.  The market portion was left open with high ceilings.  It retains that industrial/rustic charm that is so appealing.

Inside Atheron

More Atherton

And oh the produce….everywhere I looked it was so colorful.   There’s a wide selection of farms to choose from including JW’s, Coldwater Creek, Houston, Lomax, and Windy Hill.




Although Atherton is a comparatively small market (for Charlotte at least), it has everything you can imagine.  Literally.  Seafood, meat, cheese, veggies, fruit, honey, even pickles:


Simply Local offers a fantastic selection of local cheese, butter, eggs, and milk.  It’s like a mini grocery store.

Simply Local

There is also no shortage of sweets.  There’s a chocolate vendor and Wayne is particularily fond of the cookies at Cardais Gourmet.

Cardais Gourmet

And Dukes bread is amazing.  That’s Ellen, one of the owners, hiding behind the sign.  Not only do I love their bread, but I tried their tomato oil for the first time on Saturday and left Wayne very specific instructions to bring some home on Tuesday.  So yummy.

Duke's Bread

There’s also a chocolate vendor, roasted nuts, and several other non-food vendors.

All that, and this little food truck was the highlight of my day.  I’ve read quite a bit about the food at Roots, but had not yet had the opportunity to try it.  What a surprise to see them pull up!  I wandered over early and ordered a breakfast burrito.  It was amazing.  I saved a bite for Wayne who headed over for the breakfast hash – it was even better (if that’s possible).   I would have taken pictures, but the food honestly didn’t last long enough.


If I lived in the area, I would definitely be doing my Saturday shopping at Atherton.  I’m excited to bring my mother & sister along next time we head this way to spoil them with the selection.

Wayne will be at Atherton most Tuesdays and Wednesdays and we hope to join our fellow vendors for more Saturdays soon.