Going the Extra Magnificent Mile for Sustainability
The Magnificent Mile is well-known as the downtown destination to eat, shop, and explore the best of Chicago. But did you know that one of the best highlights of The Mag Mile is all the businesses and brands you can go to that implement sustainable business practices to make the district eco-friendly and locally based?
What is sustainability and why is it so important to keep in mind – especially during a getaway, stay-cation, or shopping spree? Sustainability is the ability to maintain a balanced ecology through economic and social development and environmental protection. The goal of sustainability is to tackle poverty and hunger, mitigate different environmental factors that have an impact on health and livelihood, and so much more.
Below is a list of brands and businesses that are making The Magnificent Mile more in their daily operations and beyond.
North Shore Exchange
Give back and look great as luxury meets sustainability at North Shore Exchange! The luxury retail boutique started up in 2013 with a mission to give back to the community and 100% of profits go to children and families in need in the Chicagoland area.
Since their opening, they have sold about 100,000 fashion, home decor, and furniture pieces, keeping all those items out of landfills and giving them a new home. This sale in turn prevents thousands of pounds of textiles from being scrapped. Since North Shore Exchange reuses hangers and packing materials, it saves water and other resources used in production and packaging. Sustainable LED lighting in their shop helps showcase their stunning assortment of luxurious designer product while cutting down electricity consumption. And anything that is not sold is given to a charitable partner to use or sell.
To this day, North Shore Exchange continues to be the preferred place to shop for luxury for many people in Chicagoland, especially in a “golden age of secondhand shopping” that is dominating the retail industry as a great alternative to fast fashion. They continue to bring awareness to local causes and partner with other local organizations to give back and promote sustainable shopping and business operations.
North Shore Exchange has given $1.8 million to charities in Chicagoland since opening in 2013 and is excited to grow and share their mission of sustainability to more people every day. They are located in the 900 North Michigan Avenue Shops, so stop in and find that special piece for your home or wardrobe; or consign to make room for some more.
900 N. Michigan Avenue, 4th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60611
UNIQLO is a global company taking great steps towards sustainability. Located right on Michigan Avenue, this is the shopping destination for you, whether you are looking to step up your style or need some basic pieces to complete your wardrobe. UNIQLO boasts high quality and great prices with a good heart.
UNIQLO has partnered with the School of Art Institute of Chicago and After School Matters by featuring student designs at their Michigan Avenue location. These great partnerships foster creativity within young students and give them a platform to showcase their talents.
UNIQLO has been implementing new standards and programs to reduce their carbon-footprint and material waste, all while connecting to the Chicagoland community. They are currently running the All-Product Recycling Initiative, where gently used clothing is collected from customers and is redistributed to people in need all over the country. Everything collected goes through a sorting processing in order to organize wearable and unwearable products. Unwearable products are still taken in to be recycled into fuel, which helps keep millions of items out of landfills around the world each year. They also offer their UNIQLO eco-tote for $2 and rebate incentives when you use your eco-tote to shop in-store. UNIQLO is on the path to cut down single-use plastic by 85% by 2020.
Head into UNIQLO flagship on Michigan Avenue to learn more about their sustainability initiatives by checking out the LifeWear Lounge on the top floor. You’ll be able to see what they’re up to, from supply chain to community initiatives, and browse new collections coming in-store soon!
830 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611
Big Bowl is doing big things for sustainability. They serve Thai and Chinese cuisine, and many of their ingredients are fresh and locally sourced.
One of the employees explained that, “one of the biggest misconceptions about Big Bowl is that it’s a run of the mill place, but it isn’t. Our chefs come in at 7 AM to begin cutting fresh vegetables. Everything is made from scratch.” This also includes proteins like the sustainably sourced salmon from Atlantic Canadian farms that are never frozen and always fresh.
Big Bowl also features a great bar area with drinks that are made from fresh-squeezed juices and no artificial flavors or colors, keeping more sustainable and locally sourced ingredients on the menu. Paper straws, bamboo picks, recycled paper products and bottle-less water also contribute to less plastic in landfills and bodies of water.
It is also a great place to come in and grab a bite when you’re trying to cool down this summer and stay green since Big Bowl uses a chilled water system to keep their restaurant cool and comfortable. That means less chemicals and more energy saved!
Be on the lookout for Big Bowl’s rotating special card because their menu is always changing with great new dishes and drinks. But no matter what, they continue to implement their sustainability efforts at their amazing Downtown Chicago location.
60 E. Ohio Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611
Chef Gastón Acurio serves Peruvian flavor to Chicago in a sustainable way at Tanta Chicago.
The menu offers numerous dishes rooted in Peruvian culture, along with inspiration from Japanese and Chinese culture from those who have migrated to Peru. Many of the dishes are based around seafood. Tanta makes sure that the fresh fish served is sourced sustainably. Chef Gastón and Tanta Chicago recognize that overfishing is an issue, so fish are sourced in season at the term that they populate naturally.
Tanta also sources their cocktail garnishes from local farms and uses every part of their produce as a zero-waste initiative. Left over parts from preparing dishes are used to add flavor to stocks and sauces. The Chaufa Aeropuerto is a delicious example of this practice! This dish features exquisite flavors of spicy garlic, peppers, shrimp, and pork fried rice.
Not only does the restaurant promote zero-waste in the kitchen, but they are also implementing new bamboo straws and recyclable to-go containers to make the entire dining experience as green as possible.
Tanta works with local charities to help promote food education and provide meals in underserved communities. They continually partner with Meals on Wheels and FLAP (Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project of Illinois) and will be helping at more events throughout the year, like their 6th anniversary celebration. Check out Tanta’s amazing menu full of flavor and their beautiful rooftop area for happy hour, lunch with coworkers, or an evening with friends!
118 W. Grand Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60654
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Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile
Ensuring that the outdoors flourish indoors in a sustainable way is something that Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile takes pride in, and rightfully so!
Take a seat and relax in Chicago’s largest indoor commercial greenhouse, the Sky Garden Atrium. The idea for the Sky Garden came about in 2016 from a management team that sought to create a space that aligned with their values of fostering positive social and environmental change throughout their operations, supply chain and communities. DIRTT Environmental Solutions installed this great indoor greenhouse that would help guests connect with the sustainable practices of the hotel.
Cooked-to-order breakfast and the evening reception included in your stay will take place down at the atrium, where the herbs growing in the garden add some extra flavor. Along with sourcing from their own indoor garden, the hotel also partners with local farms to source ingredients. They call it the “direct-to-fork” approach.
The atrium also features a great bar area that features cocktails with a dash of refreshing herbs. There are over 1,000 pots of herbs rotating seasonally within The Sky Garden Atrium. It is truly a place to connect with one another and with nature. And if you look up at the 18th floor, you’ll see additional space where more herbs are growing!
Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown Mag Mile also partners with Ronald McDonald house charities, donates food to local food pantries, and kits with necessities for people in need.
511 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611
Chicago Fair Trade
Fair trade is a big part of sustainability, and vice versa. Fair trade organizations have various goals, including promoting fair and livable wages and good working conditions, working to end forced and child labor, and respecting the environment. One of the national leaders in Fair Trade is located right here in Chicago and continues making an impact in fostering sustainability along The Magnificent Mile.
Chicago Fair Trade began in 2006 with 3 initial members. They are now the “largest fair-trade coalition” in the United States, with over 90 members, 60 of which are businesses, that aim to educate, activate, and celebrate Fair Trade across Chicagoland and around the world. Many of these members are small women-owned businesses, local farmers, and artisans.
One of the biggest events the organization introduces is The Magnificent Mile of Fair Trade to celebrate World Fair Trade Day. Make sure to mark your calendars because this special event takes place at the beginning of May and you won't want to miss it! It is a marketplace filled with hundreds of fair-trade products and vendors and different activities to raise the visibility of Fair Trade. They also do the Fair Trade Pop-up and Fair Trade Fashion Show to fundraise, promote their mission and create opportunities for fair trade vendors.
The organization worked closely with the City of Chicago to become an anti-sweatshop city and with Cook County to become the largest Sweatfree municipality. Transparency is required to spend tax money on uniforms and other apparel. This leads to the promotion of fair-trade standards to be implemented within the government supply chain in the City of Chicago and Cook County.
Chicago Fair Trade has also promoted Fair Trade’s mission at schools around the Chicagoland area. Not only have they visited classrooms to spread the word, but they have helped implement fair trade throughout Chicago’s first “Fair Trade School,” Whitney Young High School, which has made a commitment to educate their students on the importance of fair trade.
Not only are businesses and organizations a part of Chicago Fair Trade, but individuals can be members as well. Check out Chicago Fair Trade to learn more on how you can be a part of this great mission taking place right in our neighborhoods and across the world.
637 S. Dearborn Street, 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL 60605