NORTH CENTER — Two friends who met cleaning up trash in North Center’s Clark Park have created a yellow-pages-like guide to help Chicagoans live more sustainably.
The online guide, called Chicago Environmentalists, is a directory of local resources where people can shop, eat, recycle, get around town and even pick up flowers sustainably. It’s reminiscent of the old yellow pages books — so the founders have described it as the “green pages.”
Co-founder Katherine Tellock said the site shows neighbors sustainability is accessible and achievable in Chicago.
“The education on sustainability is really not great in a lot of places. Even if people did learn about environmental issues, they may have not gotten it for Chicago specifically,” Tellock said. “We know all the information about climate change may be overwhelming, so we want to empower people to take direct action locally.”
Tellock and co-founder Miranda Carrico spent almost two years inspecting local shops and “dumping data about their zero-waste practices into spreadsheets.” Restaurants were given an 18-question survey with questions including, “Do you use disposable containers? Do you recycle and compost? Can I bring my own mug?” Tellock said.
Ten eateries — from Bean and Bagels in Lincoln Square to The Little Pickle in Logan Square — were put on the directory’s Most Sustainable Restaurants list, and they have featured more than 100 restaurants that avoid styrofoam. Other businesses — from movers to florists and grocery stores — made the site for locally sourcing their products and recycling well, Tellock said.
“The common denominator is these businesses are choosing sustainable practices even though they don’t have to,” Tellock said. “And we want to celebrate that.”
The directory became a passion project after Tellock met Carrico at a cleanup event in Clark Park in June 2020. The duo shared a love for eliminating plastic.
“We started our conversation talking about repurposing dog poop bags,” Tellock said. “And we wanted to do a website from the beginning”
In April 2021, Tellock and Carrico started the Chicago Environmentalists Facebook page, where locals share tips for sustainable city living. The members helped Tellock crowdsource businesses to add to the green pages, she said.
“This project is the culmination of bringing people together who care about this,” Tellock said. “… There are a lot of individuals who can create resources together.”
The site has blueprints for reuse and recycling across Chicago, and its pages answer common questions, like what to do with used batteries and lightbulbs, Tellock said.
The site will be updated with categories like “hair salons, spas, places people wouldn’t think of,” Tellock said. They’ll add more businesses after checking out their sustainability practices.
The organizers are trying to find more spots to feature on the South Side, though many of the businesses in the guide are available to people all over the city, Tellock said.
“More physical resources are available on the North Side, that’s something we recognize,” Tellock said. “It’s the result of historical inequity and disenfranchisement of other parts of the city.”
Tellock, who works for composting service Block Bins, hopes the site can grow to “as many places that we can find.”
“We want sustainability to be convenient for all Chicagoans,” Tellock said. “This is about changing the narrative so people know they have the power to protect their environment.”
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