Phoenix 101: Staying Green in the City During the Summer

Courtesy of Loyola University ChicagoThe Loyola Farmers’ Market operates each Monday from June 4 to Oct. 15 outside the Loyola Red Line CTA station. The food is locally sourced and fresh.

Since the Chicago Climate Action Plan was adopted in 2008, the city has worked to motivate its residents to commit to a sustainable lifestyle. Changes have included the construction of energy efficient buildings, the promotion of clean and renewable energy sources, the improvement of transportation, the reduction of waste and pollution and the movement toward adapting to climate change.

Loyola is home to seven Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings. These buildings are highly efficient and cut costs. The university also uses locally-sourced food in its dining halls, encourages recycling and composting, manages and conserves water and promotes biodiversity, the variety of life, within ecosystems around campus. While Loyola takes steps to be sustainable, its students, and Rogers Park residents, can do things on their own time.

The Phoenix provides strategies for Loyola students and Rogers Park residents to live sustainably and remain environmentally conscious during the summer months.

How can I get around the city while being environmentally conscious?

With over 130 bus routes and eight train lines, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) makes Chicago one of the most accessible U.S. cities by public transportation. From the Loyola station, the Red Line to 95th heads directly into the Loop at the heart of downtown connecting dozens of buses and a handful of trains which provide access to numerous parts of Chicago. A single person who swaps a 20-mile round-trip commute by car to public transportation can reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 4,800 pounds, according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association.

Chicago also offers 200 miles of protected on-street bike paths, and has an 18.5 mile lakefront path, according to the City of Chicago. If your destination is too far, numerous CTA stations have bike racks. However, a study done by PeopleForBikes showed  48 percent of all trips Americans make by car are less than four miles, a reasonable biking distance. Riding a bike instead of driving a car can reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

What small changes can I make to reduce plastic waste?

Rogers Park is home to many restaurants which offer late-night delivery options. As a way to reduce the use of paper and plastic, ask restaurants to exclude plastic utensils if you plan to eat at home and have metal utensils available. According to One Green Planet, six million tons of plastic forks are thrown out each year globally.

I’m craving fresh food. Where can i find this nearby?

From June 4 to Oct. 15, Loyola will open up their annual farmers market on Monday evenings in the Loyola Plaza near the entrance to the Loyola CTA station. The farmers market offers fresh fruits and vegetables from local growers practicing sustainable agriculture and land conservation. Support for small farms which use sustainable agriculture is a win-win. People in the community pay for fresh, organic food, which in turn pays for farms to continue practicing sustainable agriculture against larger corporate supermarket competitors. Farmers market foods are sold in minimal packaging, also reducing the use of paper and plastic.

Other farmers markets in Chicago and out of state can be found by visiting and entering a zip code.

I have so many clothes I don’t wear … what should I do with them?

Textiles account for 5 percent of municipal waste each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is because only 15 percent of textiles are recycled. Instead of letting clothing go to waste, opt to buy and sell items. Many consignment and thrift stores in Chicago accept donations and buy clothing in good condition. These items are then resold at affordable prices. Unique pieces can be found just blocks away from the Lake Shore Campus at Green Element Resale on North Broadway Avenue, and at thrift stores off of the Belmont Red Line stop.

What temperature should I turn my thermostat to in the summer?

Even the smallest change in indoor temperature can save extraordinary amounts of carbon dioxide. According to an article from World Wildlife Fund, turning your thermostat up just two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter has the potential to save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

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