See below for our listing of select organizations, businesses and projects that we think you should know about. They are all thriving examples of how sustainability works!
FEATURED ORGANIZATIONS & PROJECTS FOR 2014
Casa Couture is a boutique furniture shop in Roscoe Village specializing in redesigning antique furniture to create fresh new looks and, at times, new purposes. If you've ever happened to pass by this cozy little shop, you'd be hard pressed not to notice the pops of color that line your path not to mention good energy oozing from within (on weekends new pieces are often displayed along the curbside). Of course new inventory doesn't last long, as storeowner and designer Julie Gathman travels the midwest throughout each week hand selecting quality used furniture and almost immediately upcycles it in a most unique, beautiful way. Each and every piece is given the utmost attention to detail, that of which only a true artist can appreciate. Known for her exquisite color choices and finishes, Gathman draws inspiration from her Chicago surroundings. She is one sustainable shop owner we can't get enough of!
Modern Fabrics is not your typical fabric shop. They offer a huge selection of brand new, quality, fabrics in breathtakingly beautiful patterns – and by countless sought-after designers, but all have been recovered from cutting rooms across the country. These fabrics would be considered highly valuable by any designer, yet by the large companies that toss them, they are considered post-industrial waste generated during the manufacture of new upholstered luxury furniture. These fabrics are in new condition, immediately ready to be upcycled and reused on your furniture, cushions, craft or interior design projects at 50-75% off the list price. The owners – husband and wife team Ewa and James Powell – are passionate about their efforts to change the way we treat our planet. They have seen firsthand the vast amount of waste of textile fabrics – an overwhelming majority ending up in the landfills, and their dedication is making a difference, one roll at a time. Committed to building a larger market for these discarded fabrics while ensuring an ecological textile life-cycle is what this sustainable company is about.
Plant Chicago is located within The Plant, which is a new kind of organization in a very old building. It's part vertical farm, part food-business incubator, part research and part education space. Plant Chicago is the non-profit organization with a mission to promote closed-loop food production and sustainable economic development through education and research. It has taken a former meat packing plant in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood and repurposed it into a net-zero energy vertical farm and business incubator that will eventually divert over 10,000 tons of food waste from landfills each year to meet all of its heat and power needs. Not only does Plant Chicago operate several demonstration farms that feature the closed-loop model, but it operates educational programming on topics such as urban space reuse, local and sustainable food production, waste resuse and energy creation and conservation.
1400 W. 46th St.
Chicago, IL 60609
City Farm and the Square Mile of Sustainability
(Projects of The Resource Center)
Visit their FB Page to get news and updates!
Square Mile of Sustainability is an initiative of the Resource Center in collaboration with local organizations in Englewood to transform neglected and vacant land into productive sites for urban agriculture and community gardens - with the goal of creating new economies based on local resources and healthy food. By improving the appearance and productivity of these neglected properties through urban agriculture, Square Mile of Sustainability is creating safe and well-respected places for all members of the community. The Resource Center collects compostable waste from schools and restaurants in Chicago to recycle resources and create soil for growing organic edible crops. Based on the working City Farm model, local resources are integrated into the food cycle to provide jobs and affordable fresh produce for the neighborhoods.
City Farm transforms vacant city land into fertile, productive farmland, integrating education, land reuse, local investment, jobs, community beautification and healthier eating, City Farm's method is successful, replicable and sustainable, and the benefits are tangible. Instead of an acre of crumbling cement and overgrown weeds, a viable farm that produces 20,000 pounds of heirloom tomatoes, arugula, beets, carrots, kale, collards, herbs and more per acre is created. As for jobs, City Farm creates 3-4 full-time jobs per acre, plus seasonal work. The benefits are of course also environmental, since they pursue full-cycle chemical-free farming - from food scrap composting to small plot intensive production. With every parcel of land farmed, the "old’ Chicago is sealed off, and in its place is fertile compost. It is an efficient, cost-effective way that allows productivity and portability. When land that has been farmed becomes valuable for other purposes, all growing materials can simply be transported - the compost, hoop houses, chicken coop and beehives to the next location.
The Resource Center began as a recycling operation over 35 years ago, as it found value in overlooked resources - both in material as well as people looking for work. As Chicago’s first and largest non-profit recycler, the Resource Center operates community drop-off sites and recycling services throughout the city. With The Resource Center and the Clean Stream Recycling Program, there is a difference in recycling options and a difference in commitment. The Resource Center guarantees that they will recycle 99% of the materials picked up - the only recycler working in Chicago who offers that service.
The 606 was formed by Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, and is transforming nearly three miles of unused rail line on the city's northwest side into an elevated trail. This trail will link up five ground-level neighborhood parks, as well as various art installations and other amenities. The park and trail system is named for the 606 zip code prefix all Chicagoans share. Set above city streets, it will serve as both an urban oasis and a new way to explore Chicago on trails for biking, running and strolling. The 606 also connects parks, people, and communities; what once physically separated four neighborhoods now will knit them together and attract visitors from throughout Chicago and beyond. It is yet another Chicago icon that brings together innovative urban planning, green space, and the arts. The project connects four ethnically and economically diverse Chicago neighborhoods: Wicker Park, Bucktown, Humboldt Park and Logan Square.