You don’t often hear the phrase haute hemp. Yet as the rash of enviro-conscious ads scattered around Chicago hint, planet-friendly living now resonates with a new set of consumers. Locally, the city is officially green-leaning, joyously bridging various demographics in time for the most blatantly wasteful, err, merriest time of year. Ensuring that “giving back” takes on a whole new meaning, local eco and fair-trade advocates Jessa Brinkmeyer of Pivot and Katherine Bissell Córdova of Greenheart share their ideas for a holiday Mother Earth would love.
With a savvy selection of local and international avant-eco designers, Pivot is the best game in town for fashion-forward, Earth-friendly style. Gifts like Norman Design’s vibrant, citrus-colored clocks, made from recycled HDPE ($45), will add spark to office cubicles, while Nahui Ollin’s quirky coasters, fashioned from factory reject candy wrappers, are gender neutral and affordable ($25 for a set of four). Finally, Brooklyn-based designer Mociun’s bronze, hemp and silk-blend tie dress ($395) proves that dressing “conservatively” can still be provocative. Meanwhile, Greenheart—which recently opened in the Center for Cultural InterChange—carries a mixture of conscientious eco-fair trade gift items from around the globe; every one with its own riveting back-story. A Cambodian rice-bag tote, made from recycled rice bags, supports women rescued from brothels ($40), while a sleek leather wallet is fashioned from discarded landfill truck tubes. The shop’s essential oil-scented Lumia candle line ($2.75 per votive) is the only organic soy product of its kind.
As for those treasured traditions? Both women cite gift-wrap as a major waste culprit. As a creative alternative, Brinkmeyer suggests ditching the tube for old maps and magazines, using the black ribbon from old VHS tapes as the bow for an offbeat touch. Bissell Córdova suggests Greenheart’s eco-fair trade sheet paper ($2-$3 a sheet), made from jute and water hyacinth, and collected by Bangladeshi women to clear out the local waterways. Consider kicking the tannenbaum tradition: Brinkmeyer jury-rigged a holiday tree from a found birch branch, strung L.E.D. lights (they use ninety percent less energy) and adorned it with antique chandelier crystals. If an evergreen-less holiday is out of the question, make sure to take advantage of the citywide drop-off sites on January 12. Bissell Córdova, who warns against the concept of occasion-specific bulk spending, encourages shoppers to “buy sustainable materials and buy to last a while.”
And she adds, “Why not buy good products to last all year?” (Libby Ramer)
Pivot is located at 1101 West Fulton Market, (312)243-4754; Greenheart is at 746 North LaSalle, (312)944-2544.