We recently announced the launch of our 2021 Circular Economy Leaders Network, a group of over 20 small businesses located across the Chicagoland area committed to creating circular practices. The cohort features a variety of industries, including food manufacturing, skincare, urban farming, architecture, and more. Read on to learn about some of the specific circular economy goals the businesses are working on - stay tuned for Part 2 next month! See our Small Business page for the complete list of 2021 network members.
Andi Mints Design is a branding and design strategy firm whose work has spanned major global brands, nonprofits, startups, and more. In an effort to reduce waste and promote sustainable practices within the design field, Andi Mints Design aims to create a small database of circular economy-aligned vendors - including paper suppliers, merchandise, and web servers - for design clients to choose from when producing materials.
Closest Closet is an early-stage clothing trading platform with a mission to divert textile waste from landfills. Members earn a digital hanger for each article of gently used clothing posted to their virtual closet, and can use their hangers to "buy" other members' listed items. The team just launched their website - you can sign up for free today (and earn a free hanger) to give your unwanted clothing a new home and gain access to new-to-you pieces (either through local pick-up or paid shipping).
Dinobi Detergent is a plant-based laundry detergent company that launched after co-founders Sylvia and Augie Emuwa realized they needed a gentler and more effective option for their family. Dinobi - which is safe for babies, sensitive skin, and pet care - already comes in recyclable packaging, but the team is partnering with Plant Chicago to research more circular options as well as the possibility of rolling out a refill model at the Firehouse Market, where
Dinobi is already available to purchase.
Eco & the Flamingo is Chicago’s first zero waste general store, located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. You can find skin care, bulk food & oils, cleaning products, and more - all available for purchase by using your own containers. Customers are welcome to book an in-store shopping appointment or utilize the team’s drop-off program. For their circular economy goal, Eco & the Flamingo plans to establish a drop-off receptacle for plastic packaging, which will be available to customers and the surrounding community.
Homegrown Wrappings creates custom gift baskets using locally sourced goods and sustainable wrapping & packaging. Cass Westover, the founder of Homegrown Wrappings, is very intentional about utilizing refurbished items when crafting gifts, from picture frames to paper. To make circular practices more accessible in her community, Cass is working on developing a “hard-to-recycle” drop-off station at the Homegrown Wrappings storefront, and is currently accepting cork, #6 rigid plastics, and certain office supplies. Contact the store to make an appointment for your own drop-off, or stop by the shop on Fridays between 10am and 6pm.
Indigo & Violet Studio is an arts & crafts studio that offers creative workshops and art classes for a variety of special events, including corporate retreats, fundraisers, private parties, and more. While the brick and mortar space is currently closed due to COVID, Indigo & Violet Studio will be offering virtual “use-what-you-have” workshops as part of the business’ circular economy goal. Indigo & Violet Studio will also focus on sourcing an alternative circular option for its standard acrylic yarn.
Nowhere Collective is an early-stage creative reuse organization enabling a marketplace for makers to source reclaimed materials and sell their products. One of the team’s projects is “Nowhere Repair,” which aims to create custom embroidery patches for damaged clothing. To further align with the circular economy, Nowhere Collective will focus on reducing their use of virgin stabilizer/backing, which is a key material used during the embroidery process.
Ottilia is a skincare and home goods store, with products available online and their soon-to-open storefront in Arlington Heights! Ottilia intentionally sources from independent businesses and vendors who offer non-toxic ingredients in their products, which include candles, lotions, soaps, and oils. As part of the Circular Economy Leaders Network, Ottilia will work to develop a bulk bin and refill model for two items, Routine Deodorant and its Re-Up Refill Shop’s mouthwash at its brick-and-mortar location.
Soap Junkii offers handcrafted soaps and body butter (available at the Firehouse Market!), launched after founder Quinn Mines discovered an effective treatment for her daughter’s eczema condition. While Quinn
already strives to use minimal packaging for Soap Junkii’s products, she will zero in on finding a circular option that is compatible with her Cricut cutting machine.
That Rub is a seasoning and dry rub company committed to fostering the circular economy, diversity, and inclusion. Founded by Tony and Abbey Cannon, That Rub has grown to have a national reach and currently ships its products across the US. The team’s goal centers around finding a circular packaging option for their seasonings enclosed in stand-up pouches. You can find That Rub at the Firehouse Market.