Chicago’s ‘Green Pages’ offer a free guide to shopping and living more sustainably in the city

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 flowers in a sustainable way. It is reminiscent of the old yellow pages books – so the founders described it as the “green pages”.

Co-founder Katherine Tellock said the site shows neighbor sustainability is accessible and achievable in Chicago.

“Sustainability education really isn’t great in a lot of places. Even though people have educated themselves about environmental issues, they may not have understood it specifically for Chicago, Tellock said. “We know that all the information about climate change can be overwhelming, so we want to empower people to take direct action locally.”

Tellock and co-founder Miranda Carrico spent nearly two years inspecting local stores and “dumping data on their zero-waste practices into spreadsheets.” Restaurants received an 18-question survey with questions such as, “Do you use disposable containers?” Do you recycle and compost? Can I bring my own cup? said Tellock.

Ten restaurants — from Bean and Bagels in Lincoln Square to The Little Pickle in Logan Square — made the directory’s list of most sustainable restaurants, and they featured more than 100 restaurants that avoid styrofoam. Other businesses — from movers to florists and grocery stores — have created the site to source locally and properly recycle their products, Tellock said.

“The common denominator is that these companies choose sustainable practices even though they don’t have to,” Tellock said. “And we want to celebrate that.”

The repertoire 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 by talking about reusing dog poo bags,” Tellock said. “And we wanted to make a website from the beginning”

Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
The Chicago Enviromentalists website will be a centralized place for listings of sustainable businesses, said co-founder Katherine Tellock.

In April 2021, Tellock and Carrico launched the Chicago Environmentalists Facebook page, where residents share tips for sustainable city living. Members helped Tellock crowdsource companies add to the Green Pages, she said.

“This project is the culmination of people coming together who care,” Tellock said. “…There are many individuals who can create resources together.”

The site has plans for reuse and recycling across Chicago, and its pages answer common questions, like what to do with used batteries and bulbs, Tellock said.

The site will be updated with categories such as “hair salons, spas, places people wouldn’t think of,” Tellock said. They will add other companies after verifying their sustainability practices.

Organizers are trying to find more places to feature on the South Side, though many of the guide’s businesses are accessible to people across 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 the disenfranchisement of other parts of the city.”

Tellock, who works for composting service Block Bins, hopes the site can become “as many places as we can find”.

“We want sustainability to be practical for everyone in Chicago,” Tellock said. “It’s about changing the narrative so people know they have the power to protect their environment.”

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Calvin W. Soper