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Posted by Lydia Krupinski

Maybe it’s the sociologist in me, but when I think of the “gap,” I’m thinking of everything but the store. Thoughts of gender wage wars, class struggles, and even Madonna come to mind, but the retail chain is far down that list. But that will change this week.

From March 5th-14th, Gap stores around the country are partnering with Ultra Touch, collecting used denim and transforming it into sustainable home insulation for communities in need. Swing by any of the Chicagoland locations to drop off  your used jeans and in doing so, you’ll not only be conserving resources, you’ll be saving some money too! The Gap will be issuing 30% discount coupons with donations – so clear out those 80’s acid wash jeans you’ve been hiding!

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by Lydia Krupinski

I’m not one for supporting any holiday that encourages consumerism or pressured spending…but I am always looking for a great excuse to go out for a romantic dinner. So when David and I were deciding on a venue for feasting this weekend, we jumped at the chance to give the new Karyn’s on Green a try.

This serene vegan restaurant is nestled on the border of Greektown and the West Loop gallery district. Its hideaway location made our excursion that much more of a treat. We arrived on Saturday night, just in time to meet our reservation, and were quickly wooed by the friendly staff. Boasting a main dining hall, lofted party room, and food bar, Karyn’s is not just an elegant foodie escape, but also a versatile spot for casual dining. Read the rest of this entry »

Tomorrow night we will celebrate the dawning of a new decade as the clock strikes midnight around the globe, and Sprout Chicago wants to know, what will you be doing in 2010 to live a greener life?

Start making a list of those eco resolutions, and we’ll ask you to submit them early next week for a New Year Kick Off Contest!

Wishing you the very best for 2010!

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by Lydia Krupinski

As promised Sprout is bringing you the very best in conscientious consumer tips for the upcoming holiday season. One such suggestion is shopping local as much as possible! There’s no better way to cut your carbon footprint then buying directly from the maker.

megan lee designsOne way to tap local artisans is the DIY Trunk Show on Saturday November 21st. Since 2003 this unique collection of artists and entrepreneurs has been bringing their handmade goods to Chicagoans.

Swing by next weekend and pick up some fresh goodies from Edgewater Soaps, beautiful screenprinted dresses from Megan Lee Designs, or handcrafted modern kitchen ware from Circa Ceramics.

What: DIY Trunk Show

When: Saturday November 21st 10am-5pm

Where: Pulaski Fieldhouse 1419 W. Blackhawk Chicago IL

If you’ll be stopping by, make sure to bring a reusable  shopping bag.  And don’t forget to come by my Pierogi Picnic booth to say hello!

By Lydia Krupinski

bow tutorialWe’ve all been there…the clock strikes the eleventh hour and you’re running late to the next birthday, house-warming, holiday party. You’ve found the perfect gift, but you just realized that you’ve run out of wrapping materials…what do you do? Read the rest of this entry »

You see them everywhere: totes at the grocery store, totes at the pharmacy, totes at fairs, totes on the beach. It seems that people can’t get enough of this affordable and  practical accessory. We’re encouraged to green bag all of our purchases in these fun quirky carriers…but how many of us stop to think where these bags are coming from? Are they themselves eco-friendly or are we just succumbing to another consumer cycle ?
For those of us wondering how to green even this small detail of our daily lives, Linda Miles offers a stylish answer. The sole owner of a whimsical and functional line of eco-friendly accessories called Fashion Green T Bags, Linda provides conscious consumers with a recycled alternative. Fashion Green T Bags specializes in what the name suggests: Tote bags made of discarded tees.
Not only does Linda Miles have an eye for design and a heart for the environment, this teaching veteran of twenty-six years has dedicated her life to helping people throughout her community. So Sprout Chicago feels honored to bring you the following interview with a woman who’s not afraid to speak out, get involved, and be heard.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself.
A. I live in Kent, Ohio in a development, but we don’t have neighbors behind us. Instead we have a gorgeous set of trees, a small lake and beautiful field. I create most of my bags in the dining area of my kitchen since I want to be near family as I work.
Helping the environment and helping local food banks have been my passions, so I started making bags and donating as much of my sales as I can to our local food banks.
Q. When did you first discover your creative potential?
A. I’ve always been a little “unconventional.” For my current store I wanted to stop using store bags and couldn’t find another tote option that I liked. I thought my totes were a totally original idea but it was someone else’s original idea somewhere.  ;) They’re so strong and hold so much that when I found out about Etsy I decided to make and sell some.
Q. What do you think sets your pieces apart from other Eco-friendly Etsy sellers?
A. My bags are extremely well made. The openings are all triple-layered and seamed and I use 2 different ultra-strong stitches to secure the bottom.  One tank shirt can carry a 5# bag of potatoes, 2 64 oz. juice jars and 2 large jars of peanut butter with room for more (if you can lift it.  These bags last forever.
All of my bags are made from shirts that are “final sale” at thrift stores because, especially in this economy, I don’t want to take something that someone else might wear. I wash all items in an HE washer using cold water and all natural soap nuts (an actual nut shell that contains soap and can be composted after use). I also reuse packaging materials whenever possible and I include little “treats” with each purchase.
Q. What does ecological “sustainablity” mean to you?
A. I have a difficult time understanding how so many people around the world believe that we can take resources, spew pollution by the tens of thousands of tons and expect there to be no negative impact. Everytime we can reuse or repurpose we give a minute fraction back to the earth, but when we act collectively, we can create a huge positive difference.  We have a duty and obligation to ourselves and our home to think and act globally.
Our home lighting is all CFL and we employ eco-friendly practices in our daily lives. We use an electric lawn mower, have our heating/cooling on timers and run them at temperatures that are not wasteful. We have energy efficient appliances and use vinegar and baking soday as our primary cleaners.  Each time we think of a new way to be more eco-friendly we incorporate that practice in our lives.
Q. Where do you find inspiration?
A. It’s distressful to see so many plastic and paper bags leaving stores every day. Each has such a negative impact on our planet.  The store totes I’ve used seem to fall apart quickly and don’t seem to be truly Earth friendly because of their short durability. If one can reuse an item longer, the positive impact is better.
Q. What advice would you offer for others looking to live a greener lifestyle?
A. Be totally aware of your practices. Look for every day activities that can be made less negatively impactful on the environment. Take reusable containers for leftovers at a restaurant or ask for reusable foil instead of plastic or styrofoam containers whenever possible.  Say “NO” to using plastic straws. Bring your reusable mug to refill instead of using disposable options. Be exceptionally aware of packaging. There are so many ways we can help.
Q. What is your favorite green website?
A.Stop junk mail for FREE!
Q. If you could be any vegetable, what would you be and why?
A. I might be corn. It’s yellow, my favorite color, spends a long time growing in the sun and is versatile.  I would lobby against my unhealthy uses however and work hard to make people realize that there are far better fuel options than I and that I’m actually more destructive as a fuel than I am helpful.

by Lydia Krupinski

sixer

You see them everywhere: totes at the grocery store, totes at the pharmacy, totes at fairs, totes on the beach. It seems that people can’t get enough of this affordable and  practical accessory. We’re encouraged to green bag all of our purchases in these fun quirky carriers…but how many of us stop to think where these bags are coming from? Are they themselves eco-friendly or are we just succumbing to another consumer cycle ?

For those of us wondering how to green even this small detail of our daily lives, Linda Miles offers a stylish answer. The sole owner of a whimsical and functional line of eco-friendly accessories called Fashion Green T Bags, Linda provides conscious consumers with a recycled alternative. Fashion Green T Bags specializes in what the name suggests: Tote bags made of discarded tees.

Not only does Linda Miles have an eye for design and a heart for the environment, this teaching veteran of twenty-six years has dedicated her life to helping people throughout her community. So Sprout Chicago feels honored to bring you the following interview with a woman who’s not afraid to speak out, get involved, and be heard. Read the rest of this entry »

by Lydia Krupinski

Lake Michigan

Greetings Sprout Followers!

We appreciate your eagerness for the latest Sprout Chicago bits, bobs, and blurbs! It has been a beautiful and busy summer for both Irena and me as we work, attend concerts, cook outs, art parties and more.

I am busy gearing up Pierogi Picnic for various street festivals around the city and working on several film and video projects … all while surviving the flu and below average temps!

Now that I’ve nursed myself back to health with the help of several bundles of garlic, chamomile tea, and sleep, I will be bringing you the latest scoop on sustainable summer events and markets.

In the coming weeks, Irena and I will also be sharing our favorite raw ravioli recipe, an easy eco-craft project, interviews with local green business owners, and a critical look at Chicago’s Public School food system.

In the meantime, get out there and explore your fair city by bike and e-mail us your urban discoveries!

apple-cider-vinegar

Summer is here! The sun is ablaze, the beaches and parks are swarming, and so are mosquitoes. If you’re looking for a safe, natural, and green alternative to traditional toxic bug sprays, look no further than Apple Cider Vinegar.

This wonderous liquid does more than add punch to a salad. When taken daily, the potent vinegar helps to repel female mosquitoes, leaving you to enjoy the beautiful summer nights bite free! It can also be added to your furry best friend’s food to keep away pests like ticks and fleas.

A teaspoon a day will keep the critters away!

Check out my favorite brand of organic Apple Cider Vinegar: Bragg’s.

To learn more about the many health benefits of ACV, like diabetes treatment, acne irridication, and weight management, check out this article.

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