Green Festival: Thinking Global, Acting Local
Patch looks at the various ‘green’ connections in the Morton Grove area after last weekend's event.
The Chicago Green Festival, held at McCormick Place last weekend, rounded up more than 300 green exhibitors and 125 speakers for two days of cutting-edge sustainable lifestyle action and information.
We stopped by on Sunday to find out what's new in the sustainability world. Here’s a look at what caught our eye in terms of cool products of note and environmentally friendly organizations with whom Morton Grove activists can partner.
Locally Sourced Food: Buying locally sourced foods goes a long way toward reducing your environmental footprint. We visited two booths featuring family-run businesses: Local Folks Foods and Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks.
Local Folks Foods, based in Indianapolis, makes and sells such products as ketchup (no corn syrup allowed), barbeque sauce (honey-based), stone-ground mustard (seedily wonderful), hot sauces and jams. It is also begun offering cheese made with raw milk. While some of the products can be purchased online, they are also sold within easy reach of Morton Grove, at the Whole Foods stores in Evanston and Northbrook.
Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks specializes in weekly home deliveries of organically produced fresh produce, meat, dairy, eggs and more. The company, based in Niles, has the mission of “making it easy to get great local food by rebuilding the connection between Chicago and surrounding farms.”
2. Nada Chair: Not a chair, but a back brace and support that helps keep your spine at optimum posture while reducing lower back pain. We were ushered into this booth to try the Nada chairs, which consisted of a wide back brace attached to a pair of straps that loop around the knees. The idea behind the product is for your knees—specifically, the shinbones—to prevent you from slouching in order to attain perfect posture. While we found the product too strappy for our taste, it felt amazingly comfortable. The company is based out of St. Paul, MN.
3. Chicago Textile Recycling: Morton Grove churches, schools or service groups looking for a green fundraising project can raise money by hosting a used clothing drive with the help of Chicago Textile Recycling (CRT). This organization keeps nonwearable clothing out of landfill by turning it into wiping cloths and fiber products. Recent clothing drives held by a group in Rockford collected a semi-trailer’s worth of used clothing (about 15,000 pounds), which netted the group roughly $1,500 for its efforts. “The key to the success of any drive is the organization’s ability to collect a large amount of clothing,” said CTR event coordinator Kim Woycke, who guides groups in their fundraising efforts. “Successful drives provide substantial funds for the organization while diverting thousands of pounds of textile waste from landfill. Even clothing that seems unwearable still has value.”
4. BPA-Free Water Bottles: Water bottles got big play at the Green Festival. One option was stainless steel bottles; another was a disposable corn-based material. Both options are free of a chemical called bisphenol-A, or BPA, found in epoxy resin and polycarbonate plastics and linked to various health issues. A couple of booths, Klean Kanteen and Stainless Cups, specialized in a rainbow of stainless steel bottles. Another booth run by Chicago-based Green Planet Bottling was passing out water in bottles made of a petroleum-free, plant-based bottle. You can buy the products online, but the stainless water bottles are also easy to find here in Morton Grove at locations including Dominick’s, Home Goods and Eddie Bauer Outlet, to name a few.
5. New Life For Old Bags: Representing another cool project for Morton Grove service groups of any age, this organization converts the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag into woven sleeping mats that are then distributed to homeless people. One mat requires anywhere from 500 to 700 bags and about 40 hours of work, we were told when we stopped by the booth. Bags are cut into strips, made into “yarn” and the crocheted into thick mats. For more information, “friend” the group on Facebook.
6. The Working Bikes Cooperative is a Chicago-based not-for-profit organization that diverts bicycles from the waste stream by repairing them for sale and charity. Refurbished bicycles are provided to charities within Chicagoland and are sent to such locations as Angola, Cuba, Ghana, Guatemala, Peru and Tanzania. Each year Working Bikes gives away more than 5,000 bicycles locally and internationally. At least 500 bicycles and wheelchairs go to Chicago-area programs, refugees and day camps. Working Bikes needs bicycles (any style or in any condition) as well as parts and tools. Drop-off areas closest to Morton Grove can be found in Glenview, Mount Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge—check the organization's website for addresses and more info.