Sometimes to move forward, you need to go out and meet people. In my experience, taking the initiative to meet new people and try new things is the best way to get involved - it was how I got started in my own eco-conscious career. It’s overwhelming if you don’t know where to look or how to get started, which is why today I’m highlighting what sustainable efforts my home city has to offer, Chicago.
Have you ever considered having your wedding in Chicago? Because I kid you not, Chicago has a Green Wedding Alliance, providing everything from food vendors to DJ’s to venues. Using a network of responsible event vendors, everything they offer is environmentally and socially approved. It hadn’t even crossed my mind, but considering all the resources, money, and effort already put into a wedding, it’s definitely a plus to make it sustainable. My favorite venue of theirs has to be the Greenhouse Loft, platinum LEED-certified, green roof, and uses solar panels for hot water and air conditioning.
For anyone who is an entrepreneur at heart, and eager to share their ideas and develop them into a reality, Chicago offers this wonderful place called the Green Exchange. Housing over 20 different green businesses, the Green Exchange is the perfect hub for sustainable innovation. Funny enough, one of those green businesses happens to be the Greenhouse Loft. They also advertise a variety of events such as cooking classes, art shows, and panels. You can find all their events listed here.
If you’re passionate about the sustainability of architecture and LEED certifications, then USGBC’s Illinois Chapter is a great organization for you. Located at the awesome and massive Merchandise Mart, this organization is an excellent resource for anything green building related. Being a local affiliate to the national United States Green Buildings Council (USGBC), the Illinois Chapter provides a variety of programs, events, educational and research initiatives, advocacy campaigns, and informative resources to help push the Green Building initiative. Anyone is welcome to become a member, and in doing so, you get discounts to programs and events, as well as staying in touch with every resource and program available, thanks to their handy newsletter.
Need an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city? While Chicago offers countless options, I’d suggest the Garfield Park Conservatory. Housing approximately two acres inside, filled with thousands of different plant species and 12 acres of lovely outdoor flower gardens, this a must for nature lovers and shutterbugs alike! The conservatory provides more than just its lovely flora, as it also offers unique lectures, yoga classes, and fun activities for kids, such as Wild Wednesdays, where children can get their hands dirty and learn more about nature.
Any animal lover can appreciate Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, free to the public and one of the largest zoo-based conservation programs in the country. The zoo has several different initiatives for wildlife conservation, while also providing educational programs for kids of all ages. Did I mention this zoo is FREE? Definitely a perk.
The last thing I wanted to mention deals with food. We all eat, and Chicago surprises me once again that it’s sustainable initiatives involves dining too. Next Bites helps Chicago’s food industry to be sustainable. The non-profit organization helps restaurants become Green-Certified with their three month Sustainability Assistance Program. They also provide restaurateurs and food industry members alike, a Resource Kit, providing the most up-to-date information on everything from food, to waste management, to furnishings. Next Bites provides everything the food industry needs to be green, but I also wanted to mention something for the people who just want to sit down and eat. Lula Cafe provides an interesting concept, admittedly one I haven’t heard of before, but are happy to finally acknowledge it. Being a “farm to table” restaurant, means exactly that- all their ingredients come directly from local farms. Lula cafe not only gets their meat and fish from sustainable sources, they provide a unique menu that you can’t get anywhere else, which even includes adventurous vegetarian dishes.
So there you have it! Out of writing this blog, I’m actually even more proud of the city of Chicago. It has plenty to offer its residents and visitors, and it makes me even more proud that some of those venues happen to be very green.