chicago

Back to the Beach Clean Ups

I willingly spent a Saturday morning picking up garbage.

It has gotten to the point where I will stop my run to pick up a plastic water bottle.

Other people don’t enjoy that as much as I do? Hmm.. weird!

Anyway, we are back to the beach clean up season.

Last Saturday, in honor of World Environment Day, I cleaned up Montrose Beach with members of Delta Institute (I serve on their associate board), Alliance for the Great Lakes, and Goose Island brewery.

 

 

beach clean up 1

Montrose Beach, Chicago, IL

 

Although it looked pretty clean from far away, in about an hour and a half, our group of three collected:

  • 98 cigarette butts
  • 40 food wrappers
  • 49 foam pieces
  • 110 pieces of glass
  • 108 small pieces of plastic
  • 19 popsicle sticks

beach cleanup

In total, our whole group picked up over 290 pounds of trash!!!

 

group photo

The whole crew

 

 

beach clean up 2

Some members of Delta Institute’s associate board, the Delta Emerging Leaders

 

 

Then yesterday, I met up with Alliance for the Great Lakes again and Barefoot Wine to clean up North Avenue Beach to make it barefoot friendly.

 

north ave beach

North Avenue Beach, Chicago, IL

 

It was a beautiful evening so there were still plenty of people hanging out by the water. As opposed to Montrose Beach, there was definitely garbage that you could easily see.

 

north ave beach 2

Ew.

 

I wouldn’t want to play around in that.

This time our group of three picked up:

  • 205 cigarette butts
  • 43 food wrappers
  • 15 popsicle sticks
  • 44 pieces of glass
  • A nearly full box of cookies
  • 14 total pounds

north ave beach 3

A lot of the stuff we picked up is small and doesn’t weigh a lot, but once you put all of it together it sure does seem significant.

Passing on A Traditional Florist

I like flowers.

I really do, but spending a fortune on plants that are flown in from far away and most likely going to be discarded the next day is just not my cup of tea.

So I made the easy decision that a traditional florist is not the route I will be going for my wedding.

Luckily we have a family friend who started Avium Flowers, providing fresh-cut flowers grown right here in Chicago in a sustainable and organic manner.

avium flowers

Right now I am working with them on the flowers and colors that I like. When the time comes, they can then order the appropriate seeds and specifically keep me in mind for the next growing season.

My wedding flowers are legitimately being grown just for me, right here in Chicago.

Seriously, how cool is that?

See some of their amazing work below.

All of the 💗🌸💋🎈💖 for @curtismcassell today. You're fabulous!!!

A post shared by Avium Flowers Co. (@aviumflowers) on

We flexed our design muscles this week! 💪🏼 Congrats Julia and Ryan ❤️🎉 #aviumweddings #farmerflorist

A post shared by Avium Flowers Co. (@aviumflowers) on

Remembering these bundles of joy on this brrr day 🌬 #farmerflorist #slowflowers #dahlia #heirloommums #aviumweddings

A post shared by Avium Flowers Co. (@aviumflowers) on

Your Beyond Repair Clothing Does Not Have to Be Destined for a Landfill

conservation queen text

My cousin sent me this text message the other day.

It is a good question and while there are plenty of places in the Chicagoland area where you can bring your gently used clothing, there are not so many places to drop off clothing and textiles that are longer wearable or useful.

The U.S. EPA has found that 85% of all discarded textiles (that’s 12 million tons) are sent to landfills every single year.

USAgain

usagain-logo

USAgain has drop-off collection bins all around the city. They accept clothes, shoes and household textiles (like towels, bedding, tablecloths, etc) regardless of condition.

Usagain chicago locations


Chicago Textile Recycling

CTR logo

Chicago Textile Recycling provides textile recycling outlets and fundraising opportunities for organizations, businesses, and municipalities. They collect used clothing, shoes, and household items for reuse and recycling, resulting in a diversion of over 2.5 million pounds of waste from area landfills annually.

Unfortunately, they don’t have as many drop-off options as USAgain does within Chicago and Cook County (as in they have zero). There is a drop-off box at their warehouse in Hillside just outside the city and about 20 locations within Lake County.


Patagonia Worn Wear

wornwear

Through the Patagonia Worn Wear Program, you can return Patagonia products that are well beyond repair to be recycled it into something new, or repurposed, by bringing it to a local store or mailing it in.

1920x1080_BlackFriday-Radical


The North Face Clothes the Loop

clothes-the-loop-video

The North Face Clothes the Loop allows you to bring in used apparel and footwear of any condition or brand and receive a $10 reward towards your next purchase of $100 or more. Items are repurposed for reuse to extend their life or recycled into raw materials for use in products like insulation, carpet padding, stuffing for toys, and fibers for new clothing.

clothes-the-loop-hero


Other Options:

 

So now you know that your stained and ripped clothing can be used again!

Starting Tomorrow: Local Food Only

Since making the decision to purchase a CSA share this summer, K and I also decided to take it up a notch.

We figured we were already devoting ourselves to local produce, why not add in locally sourced dairy, meat, and other staples? Since I will have to walk over to the farmers market every week to pick up our share, we might as well grab some eggs and meat too.

How we are defining local:

350 miles from Chicago

local foods map

(Basically, it is about how far a truck can travel in a single day)

What is included:

  • Produce
  • Meat
  • Dairy products & eggs

What is not included:

  • Going out to eat
  • Eating at other people’s homes

Potential Benefits:

  • An increase in vegetable intake
  • A decrease in meat intake
  • A decrease in processed foods
  • A decrease in food packaging, so less waste
  • A decrease in GHG used to transport our food around
  • A decrease in our  waistlines

Potential Costs:

  • $$$$

While our CSA share does not start until June, we are starting when our local farmers market returns outside tomorrow.

HRC telling us how it is on Sesame Street 1993.

 

An Ode to That One Planet We Can Live On

Earth Day had always been my favorite “holiday” as a child. I am not even kidding.

I have vivid memories of my elementary school class going outside and planting a tree. We could buy t-shirts with endangered whales, swirling clouds, and towering trees on them.

Our planet Earth provides us with so much that no blog post could ever cover it all.

So instead of writing over and over again of how important this Earth Day is, I am just going to show you its beauty and just some of what it has provided, for me personally, in pictures from my everyday life.

Hey Planet Earth, you provide me with:

A place to play softball.

BE4

National Mall, Washington DC

A forest to ride through.

fall ride3

Cal-Sag Trail, Palos Park, IL

A place to take it all in.

Grand_Canyon_031

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

The opportunity to enhance it.

treeplanting2

Casey Tree planting, Washington DC

Fond family memories. 

countryhouse4

Lake Wandawega, Elkhorn, WI

Somewhere to splash my toes in. 

lake front

Lake Michigan, Chicago, IL

The reminder of nature in a concrete jungle.

lincoln park zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL

How amazing the tide is. 

boston9

Sand flats, Duxbury, MA

Sunsets that are top notch. 

newbuffaloMI9

New Buffalo, MI

And sunrises that are equally fantastic.

NP 4-2-14 1

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

Fall colors make my heart melt. 

bloomington6

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

And breathtaking ocean views.

audrey wedding1

Big Sur, CA

The power of water.

niagara falls2

Niagara Falls, NY

Planet Earth, you remind us of just how tiny we are.

kalies wedding30

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

 

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Cubs Win Leaves A Mess

Now that baseball is back and the Chicago Cubs have raised their banner and presented their World Series Championship rings, I want to bring you back to November of 2016.

No, I am not talking about the election.

It’s the aftermath of the well-attended Cub’s World Series Championship parade and rally.

While total attendance estimates are not clear, there were certainly a lot of people out to celebrate the Cub’s first World Series win since 1908.

I, though, was not one of them. #GoWhiteSox

cubsparade3

But I did happen to be downtown that day along the parade route and saw what was left behind.

It was gross.

cubsparade2

Garbage everywhere.

cubsparade

They won! How exciting!

But it is no excuse for fans to trash our beautiful city.

How To Be A Craigslist Boss: Part 1

I have bought and sold a ton of stuff on Craigslist.

Past roommates have even been found with it and that is a whole different story.

In fact, I furnished my entire dining and living room in DC with Craigslist items for under $400.

Below are two Craigslist tables currently hanging in our living room.

You can even find love on Craigslist and not in the Missed Connections section. My cousin met his now-wife through it because he bought her couch. Crazy, right?

Right now, I am searching Craigslist for a TV stand and dining table, but seriously you never know what you might find, which I think is the most fun part!

craigslist

Since I do most of my shopping lately on Craigslist, I thought I would put together a handy little list of tips for those who are new to finding and snatching deals on the platform.

1. How to Search Through Craigslist Crap Like a Boss

Search Terms

As I said before, I am looking for a TV stand, but I pretty much never just search “TV stand.”

So many different items can hold your TV. Some of the search terms I use include: “buffet,” “credenza,” “sideboard,” “dresser,”  and “media console.”

When looking for my kitchen table I either use just “table” to capture every kind or “kitchen table” and “dining table.”

Additionally, you can use the pipe key “|” to include an “or” in your search.

The Map Function

I find this most useful when looking for apartments, or when I am feeling particularly lazy and am wondering what people nearby me are selling.

craigslist3

Check “Posted Today”

If you are looking for something common, such as the kitchen table I am looking for, Craigslist is inundated with these items all day long.

And if you spend any significant amount of time searching for something, you will notice the same posts you saw yesterday after a couple pages. To see what is newest, you can check the box for what was posted today.

craigslist1

 

Knowing How to Filter

I also like to filter my results by newest posts instead of by relevance and price. The faster you can reply to a new post, the more chance you have to score that deal.

craiglist2

There are a couple other ways to filter out unrelated posts too. To remove spam, you can filter the price to a minimum of $2.00. I also like to only search posts that have images and to bundle duplicate posts.

2. Timing Is Everything: When to Search

Obviously, you can check Craigslist anytime you want, but there are certain times of the year that will yield more results.

  • When people move: at the end of the school year or the end of the month
  • After holidays: people get new stuff and need to make room for it
  • Weekends: for when people need to sell stuff ASAP

3. Location Matters

Some geographic areas are just going to have better goods than others.

Chicago being a major metropolitan area provides a lot more opportunities for there to be a bedroom set you are into and a lot more people to buy that weird coffee table you have been trying to get rid of.

For instance, I have a friend who was in the market for a vintage Coleman cooler like ours below.

cooler

He lives in Michigan and Craigslist did not have any listings for these type of coolers, but when I searched in Chicago, there were at least 5 available. I ended up getting the cooler for him here in Chicago and he picked it up the next time they were in town.

Stay tuned for my next post on selling on Craigslist!

Additional Resources:

Finally Found Our Venue: UPDATED

A bit ago, I posted that we finally found our venue.

That was premature, my apologies.

While we really loved that venue, communication-wise things were just not working out, and we decided to continue looking for other options.

Before I even had the chance to seriously look, I was suddenly making an appointment to view The Joinery, a new event space transformed from a millwork shop.

joinery2

It has the old, vintage, repurposed feel that I love, yet has all the amenities necessary for a wedding reception (brand new bathrooms, bride’s room, catering set-up space, blah blah blah).

joinery3

Besides the skylight, the coolest part is the woodworking machinery. It was kept purposefully and will be used as a bar! So neat!

the joinery4

What do you think? Well it really does not matter what you think because we put the deposit down yesterday, so this is happening for real!

Finally Found Our Venue

It’s been a journey so far, but our venue and date have finally been decided on.

We looked far and wide, from suburban to urban options.

Should we go farther out into the suburbs for a better price, but more complicated transportation for everyone?

Or stay in the City with easy access to transportation, hotels and other things to do?

In the end, we decided to stay in the City, but still make the budget work for us.

The venue is an operating dance studio (which I love because I danced all they way through college). It is not a super common venue for a wedding, which I also love. When I mentioned it to a few other vendors, they had not heard of it as an event space (which can be good or bad, I guess).

We can choose any vendors we want and it is BYOB!

 

latin rhythms

The location in dance studio mode

 

It is an intimate timber loft with string lights already strung across the ceiling and wrapped around the beams. The hardwood floor and exposed brick complete the look I was going for, without the large price tag attached.

There won’t be much to decorate, just a bit here and there.

We just need our long banquet tables for our family style dinner (either BBQ or tacos) and I think it will be gorgeous!

Chicago Recycling Round-Up (Hint: It’s Not Good)

My experience recycling in Chicago has not been easy, and I have written about it every step of the way.

Just getting a blue cart for our building was a challenge. I mean, it took 79 days, and numerous follow ups for it to arrive on our curb.

bluecart3

But once the blue cart arrived, it was not smooth sailing.

For a while, I was placated by the multiple notes I noticed taped to the carts, to serve as a reminder that they are for recycling only. I was comforted that someone cared enough to write the note but also annoyed that they were necessary in the first place.

 

After that, the city-wide recycling drop-off centers began to be phased out and the City released a video showing why plastic grocery bags do not go into your blue cart (Spoiler Alert: It seriously messes up the machinery.)

recycling drop off

Goodbye my dear friend

 

A few months went by without too much excitement, but that must have been the calm before the storm. Our maintenance has had trouble understanding how recycling works, making it even more frustrating, thus why so many blog posts were necessary.

 

trash-can3

Caught our recyclables being moved from the blue cart to the trash cart

 

Hopefully, now that we are nearing the anniversary of the beginning of this struggle, I the next year should be less eventful.

I promise to keep you updated.