Posted in Ecological Endeavors, Free Time Fun, Picture Posts

Get Your Green On!

I grew up as a city girl. We lived at the Oak Park stop on the “L” so we felt were close enough to the city to consider ourselves “Chicagoans.” I’d prefer laying inside basking in the A/C watching TV to hanging out at the small parks close by or trekking a few miles away to a lackluster forest preserve. I quietly consented to being an “indoor” person.

No more! When I moved back to Chicago a few years ago my first apartment was a few blocks from Lake Michigan. At the time my frustration with my body was at a high and I decided to start utilizing the lakefront path to learn how to run.

It was those hot summer afternoons slow jogging from Bryn Mawr down to Irving Park and back that ignited my need for nature. The running part sucked, but I loved the feeling of the sun on my skin and the smell of the water. For once in my life I wanted to spend more time outside.

Since then, I have discovered that there are so many beautiful green spaces in this concrete jungle of ours! Before we know it we will be shivering and shuffling through the frozen tundra, so enjoy summer’s bounty while you still can. Here are a few of my favorite naturescapes:

Lincoln Park Conservatory – I list this first because it is FREE and you don’t need to leave the city to go here! There are beautiful green fields and some flowered sections leading up to the conservatory itself. Inside you will be wowed by exotics from around the world and you’ll also get to meet the friendly staff. They are passionate and love talking about this treasure. When you’re done head over to the zoo or walk south for even more green space.

Chicago Botanic Garden – If you don’t want to have to travel far, but want to be surrounded by spectacular gardens this is the place for you. It’s less than an hour away from downtown and the cost is $25 per car ($30 on the weekend). Bring a few friends with you and that’s nothing!


Morton Arboretum – Although a bit pricier at $14 per person, this one is more than worth it. You’ll want to dedicate a whole day to exploring it because it has at least double if not triple the space of Chicago Botanic Garden! These pictures are from our most recent visit where we got the chance to view Origami in the Garden which runs through October 22nd.


Starved Rock – I feel like this is a frequent escape for city dwellers. The paths are paved, the views are nice, and there are waterfalls! This is also the furthest from the city at almost 2 hours, so perhaps it feels like a more authentic “get-away.” We made the mistake of visiting last year during Labor Day and the lot was full, but luckily there are a few other parks nearby and we had an equally great time navigating Matthiessen State Park.

Honorable mentions that were cut from my list because at this point I’m losing your attention: Moraine Hills State Park, Beverly Lake, Independence Grove, 606, Lake Geneva.

If you have a nature spot that I haven’t referenced please comment, I want to see them all!

Posted in Backwards is Better, Ecological Endeavors

Ethical Consumption on a Budget?

We are constantly bombarded with tempting advertisements and so familiar with instant gratification that we often do not take the step to consider where the product comes from, how it is made, and what it is made of.

At this point, we know that labor and parts for items that are mass produced are outsourced to other countries leaving those who’ve lost jobs feeling hopeless. Even worse, often those jobs are outsourced to areas where workers are making well below a living wage, working in dangerous conditions, overworked or all three. We know that a lot of the beauty products we use are tested on animals. We know when we pick up meat from the market that factory farming is a reality we now live with.

Trust me, I am equally as guilty as any other American. I will do research on these awful circumstances of consumption and only minimally alter my lifestyle if even that. While we know about these things, we don’t directly see them and it makes it easy for us to move those thoughts to the back of our mind.

A topic of debate between friends and myself is whether or not it is possible to ethically consume in our society. I personally think that there is a possibility for ethical consumption, but almost exclusively for the rich. Most Americans cannot afford to spend $220 on a sustainable dress like the ones that Nikki Reed’s Bayou With Love offers. Organic produce and products are often out of price range, but I’ve found if I were strong enough to give up eating out Aldi and Costco have a wide variety of relatively reasonably priced natural products.

Cosmetics seems to be an area that surprisingly offers a lot of natural ethical products that can fit any budget. A classmate of mine Jocelyn did a presentation for class and it blew my mind that affordable brands like Nyx and Wet & Wild are cruelty-free, but it is still something you need to be mindful of when perusing the cosmetics aisle. Look for the bunnies!

Change is hard and since we’re so used to grabbing and going it is hard to get used to the label lingo. We can make the effort though, if not every time at least on occasion. I am going to challenge myself to be a more mindful consumer and I hope you do the same.

I’ve included some articles if you want to read more into these topics:

  • Click here to check out this great NY Times opinion piece about the World Health Organization’s director general selection this week. It highlights the health and environmental consequences of factory farming.
  • This ABC article goes over the complicating process Australia is going through to ban cosmetics that are tested on animals. A loophole is that while the final product is not tested on animals, ingredients still could be.
  • Read about AT&T outsourcing customer service to the Dominican Republic and the thousands of American workers this would displace.