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By Lydia Krupinski


Green Genes is a refreshing eco-alternative to the budding boutiques of Andersonville’s busy shopping district. Situated just south of Foster on Clark Street, this charming shop will be celebrating its one year anniversary this coming week. In honor of their first birthday, Sprout Chicago caught up with co-owner Heather Muenstermann to talk about her little gem. Read the rest of this entry »


By Lydia Krupinski

In his book, “The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability,” author, economist, and environmentalist James Gustave Speth writes:


“There is growing strength in the worldwide social movement…From huge non-profits to home-based causes, the groups in this movement are emerging as a creative and influential global force.”

Artist and entrepeneur Dolan Geiman is one such force. Using reclaimed materials to create stunning pieces of art, Dolan is one small link in a growing chain of individuals who are at the forefront of sincere sustainability.

Living sustainably requires more than just carrying a reusable bag to the store or recycling your plastics.  A truly eco-friendly lifestyle looks beyond the greenwashed marketing of opportunitistic corporations and focuses instead on living simply. Artist and entrepreneur Dolan Geiman understands this firsthand. As the creative force behind his eco-business, Dolan goes beyond the classic rhetoric “reduce, reuse, recycle” to reclaim and reinvent discarded materials into beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Eco before eco was hip, Dolan finds that his creative and sustainable approach are extensions of his love and admiration for nature and that by using scavenged supplies he is truly reducing his environmental impact. Read the rest of this entry »

By Lydia Krupinski

tea-cup-cu3In Lewis Carroll’s classic “Alice In Wonderland,” Alice muses, “It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.” It’s strange how much I relate to this statement. I often find myself baffled when standing in grocery store aisles or shopping centers by the gratuitous waste present in products and their packaging. It is this sense of horror that initially drew me to taking the handmade pledge years ago. The pledge simply states, “I pledge to buy handmade for myself and my loved ones, and request that others do the same for me.”

Each time we trade money for goods we’re accepting the business practices of that given company. By buying handmade, people can support local artisans, fair trade, as well as the environment. Online retailer Etsy has become the Mecca for all things handmade. Etsy stores like Something Beautiful provide buyers with green goods straight from the crafters’ hands.

Marcie Schenck launched Something Beautiful two years ago on Etsy, ditching her ten year stint as an architect to pursue her crafting dreams. Marcie was first inspired to take her craft public after single-handedly making 170 candle favors for her Alice In Wonderland themed wedding. I contacted Marcie via Etsy to find out about her business, inspirations, and about living green.

Q. How did Something Beautiful first come about?
A. I had an Alice in Wonderland themed wedding and thought about how much I love candles. I decided to make teacup candles for all my guests. I made over 170 teacup candles over 6 months. Everyone loved them so much! My best friend who lived in Philadelphia moved to Chicago and told me about Etsy and how my Teacup Candles would be great for the site.This is how my Shop was born.

Q. What does sustainability mean to you?
A. To be sustainable you must give back what you take.

Q. What inspires you in your craft, life, and play?
A. I get inspiration from nature, I love taking my camera out on a Saturday walk and getting close ups of anything related to nature or building. I also get inspired by books. Books lets my imagination go wild.

Q. Why do you use soy in your candles?
A. when I first started making candles I used paraffin, so I do know the difference between soy and paraffin first hand. Besides the wonderful reasons of being a renewable and biodegradable resource, which also helps our U.S. farmers. Soy lasts longer than a paraffin candle, much much longer, soy has hardly any soot compared to the man made paraffin, and I use cotton wicks since soy burns at a lower temp than paraffin.

Q. What do you think sets Something Beautiful apart from other eco etsy sellers?
A. What sets Something Beautiful apart, is the quality of the soy candle and the interest in re-purposing a beautiful vintage teacup. It becomes something beautiful, useful, and green.

Q. What’s your favorite place to seek out materials?
A. The Brown Elephant

Q. What do you love most about Chicago?
I love never having to use my car. I walk everywhere, and I love it.

Q. If you could change one thing about the city, what would it be?
A. I really do not like the apartment recycling program, because there is none really. They recently got the blue bins for homeowners, but there [are] so many more people living in apartment buildings needing an easy way to recycle.

Q. What advice would you offer for others looking to live a greener lifestyle?
A. It is getting so easy to be green. I think we all have become more aware of our Carbon foot print. I do think we can, and many crafters do, reuse/recycle normal objects/items and give them new life or purpose. And by really trying you can do this and create something beautiful.

Q. What is your favorite local coffee shop?
A. Kopi, on Clark in Andersonville.

Q. What is you favorite piece of architecture in Chicago?
A. One old: Marina City Towers Downtown. One new: on the corner of Ansley and Ravenswood there is a house almost done being built that is a completely green home, THE YANNELL ZERO NET ENERGY HOME and it is a beautiful home!

Q. If you could be any vegetable, what would you be and why?
A. Cucumber, I just love cucumbers?

If you would like to learn more about Something Beautiful, please visit Marcie’s Etsy store:

If you would like to take the handmade pledge, do so here:


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