Earth Day is coming up on April 22 with the theme “Invest In Our Planet.” Spring is also the time when we see the Earth renewing itself all around us. So this month, we’re showcasing ways to make our lives and homes a bit more Earth-friendly. From places to eat and shop to things we do around the house, there are many ways to reduce our carbon footprint. These may be small steps, but taken collectively, we can make a difference.
April is also National Volunteer Month, so we’ve included a couple non-profit organizations where you can volunteer your time or make a donation to support their Earth-friendly work and initiatives.
The Urban Canopy Compost Club
theurbancanopy.org | 2550 S Leavitt St, Chicago
Residents from Rogers Park to Evergreen Park can join this pioneering community effort organized by The Urban Canopy, a local business working to create a more sustainable and equitable food system in Chicago. With dues starting at just $15 per month, they provide a large bucket along with pick-up service to turn your kitchen waste into needed compost for their farm in Englewood.
Sugar Beet Food Co-Op
sugarbeetcoop.squarespace.com | 812 W Madison St, Oak Park
Open to all, this community-owned grocery store provides local, sustainable, healthy foods and a way for customers to connect with regional farmers and producers. Their comprehensive, carefully crafted, product-sourcing guidelines emphasize the humane treatment of animals, minimally processed whole ingredients, and sustainable low-impact production methods from ground to delivery and packaging.
Chicago Tool Library | Volunteer or Donate!
chicagotoollibrary.org | 1048 W 37th St, #102, Chicago
This non-profit organization offers over 2,500 tools you can borrow – from table saws to sewing machines and camping tents. Its mission is simple: To provide equitable access to tools, equipment and information to allow all Chicagoans to learn, share and create. In addition to promoting equity, sharing tools reduces the carbon footprint of manufacturing and shipping new tools—and diverts unwanted tools from landfills.
Chicago Green Box
thechicagogreenbox.com | 3918 N Western Ave, Suite 2A, Chicago
For your next move, consider renting reusable plastic containers from this locally-owned business. Made from recycled materials, their sturdy green boxes are stackable, easy to carry and maneuver, resistant to water and dust—and they’re much more eco-friendly than cardboard moving boxes! Green Box will even drop off your boxes before your move and pick them up when you’re all unpacked!
whinerbeer.com | 1400 W 46th St, Chicago
Founded by Chicago residents Brian Taylor and Ria Nerl, Whiner Beer’s brewery, store and taproom are housed inside The Plant, a net-zero business incubator. With their emphasis on premium barrel-aged beers, innovation and environmentally responsible brewing, Whiner will play a major role in the operations of The Plant’s anaerobic digester that will ultimately produce enough energy for all of the resident businesses.
From an urban rooftop oasis to a suburban backyard retreat, this locally-owned boutique firm creates and maintains landscapes that are green – in every sense of the word! Committed to making the world a better place “through ecologically conscious environments in step with nature™“ their projects are designed for the lowest possible impact—to minimize strain on the environment and to require minimum inputs over time.
Eco & The Flamingo
ecoandtheflamingo.com | 4750 N Rockwell St, Chicago & 1551 Sherman Ave, Evanston
With locations in Lincoln Square and the North Shore, this women-owned business is Chicago’s first zero-waste general store. With their commitment to sustainable, reusable and cruelty-free products and practices, their extensive inventory includes pantry items; health, beauty and bath products; home goods; herbal remedies; and laundry and cleaning supplies.
The Turtle Stop
insidetheplant.com | 1400 W 46th St, Chicago
The Turtle Stop is the tiny but mighty retail shop where you can buy the cheeses, sweets, beverages and other food products produced, grown and gathered at The Plant. Founded in 2010, The Plant is a business incubator that is helping local entrepreneurs to create replicable production models that close loops of waste and energy—and encourage others to implement these techniques to combat climate change.
uncommonground.com | 3800 N Clark St, Chicago & 1401 W Devon Ave, Chicago
Founded in 1991 by Helen and Michael Cameron with a mission to “Nurture Nature and Nourish Community,” both the Lakeview and Uptown locations have become neighborhood icons. In addition to eclectic menus featuring produce from their organic rooftop garden and the first certified-organic brewery in Illinois, they host regular events including live music, installations by local artists, and their weekly Trivia Nights.
Heritage Trail Mercantile
heritagetrailmercantile.com | 190-B Northfield Rd, Northfield
Buying vintage furniture not only diverts items from landfills, it also decreases demand for the myriad resources needed to manufacture and ship new items. And with 42 different local vendors, this family-owned antique mall offers a huge selection of vintage furniture along with wall art, decorative pieces and tableware.
rickbayless.com | 449 N Clark St, Chicago
From Chicago restauranteurs Rick and Deann Bayless, this quick-service café offers a bold menu featuring their contemporary take on traditional Mexican street food and snacks including empanadas, meal-in-a-bowl caldos, and tortas. In addition to sourcing much of their produce from local sustainable farmers, XOCO has LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Openlands | Volunteer or Donate!
openlands.org | 25 E Washington St, Chicago
Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the oldest metropolitan conservation organizations in the nation. Through their efforts to preserve the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois, they have helped to protect more than 55,000 acres of land for public parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, greenway corridors and urban farms. They have a perfect-100 Finance and Accountability Rating from Charity Navigator and offer myriad volunteer opportunities. You can also shop their online Native Tree and Plant Sale!