Tips + Trends

Waste Not, Want Not: How to Travel Green in the Windy City

Travel green Chicago by heading to the local farmers’ market. (Photo: Monkeybusinessimages/Thinkstock)

The Midwest is called the heartland for a reason. Chicago takes sustainability to heart. While you’re here, you can lower your carbon footprint at at these environmentally friendly spots.

To Market, To Market

Since 1998, the sprawling, not-for-profit Green City Market has focused on providing sustainable, locally sourced food to the Chicago community. Local “flavor-first” blogger Janine MacLachlan says you can trust Green City because the vendors are all third-party certified for sustainable practices. Although she doesn’t want to pick favorites, MacLachlan encourages visitors to seek out the Honey Co-Op and Growing Home stand because “we need more bee-keepers and farmers to continue our Midwestern agriculture traditions.” You can sample Midwestern flavors every Wednesday and Saturday from May through October at the south end of Lincoln Park; several vendors also set up shop in Fulton on Saturdays between June and October. During the rest of the year, the market is held indoors at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Clean Water, Clean Beer

Windy City breweries take clean water seriously. According to Josh Deth, head brewer at Revolution Brewing in Chicago, “We rely on Lake Michigan for more than source water for our beer – it’s where our drinking water comes from and where our kids swim. There’s far more than beer at stake here.” You can sample the responsibly brewed beers at Revolution’s brewpub in Logan Square. Or, sip sustainable pale ales and Berliner Weiss from Marz Community Brewing at Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar in Bridgeport.

High on Sustainability

Chicago’s new 606 takes the city’s legacy of great public parks to new heights. Like New York City’s beloved High Line, the 606 features an elevated train track-turned trail — perfect for biking, jogging or just strolling — that knits together some of the city’s scenic neighborhoods and street-level parks while providing access to earth-friendly activities along the way. If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to visit during a Family Day, when you can learn about the park’s design from local sustainability experts.

Eco Rest

After a day of Michigan Avenue shopping, park your bags in peace at the Residence Inn Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile, where new showerheads conserve water, high efficiency light bulbs illuminate the halls, recycling is a priority and a laundry water recycling program and new purchase plan targeting environmentally certified paper products is in the works. You can also rest sustainably at the JW Marriott Chicago in the city’s Loop business district, where a portion of power comes from wind-generated energy. Additionally, the JW Marriott’s kitchen prepares locally sourced, sustainable organic and biodynamic meals, and all meeting rooms are stocked with recycled and recyclable paper.