This spring, we welcomed over 30 small businesses to the 2022 cohort of our Circular Economy Leaders Network. Each business is based in the Chicagoland area, has fewer than 20 employees, and brings to the network a passion for circular economy work and connecting with other local small businesses. Below is Part One of a three-part series announcing CELN 2022 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 - i.e. paper suppliers, merchandise, and more - for design clients to choose from when producing materials.
Bartleby's Ice Cream Cakes is a bakery that specializes in crafting and serving gourmet ice cream cakes. They are committed to using local dairy from Kilgus Farmstead – a family-owned farm located in Fairbury, Illinois – as well as organic ingredients whenever possible. They want to increase the sustainability of their business by finding ways to share ingredients, packaging, and equipment with other local businesses. Bartleby’s also composts their food waste or redirects excess products for other uses.
Beans & Bagels is a coffee shop located in Lincoln Square that makes its coffee with directly traded, organic coffee beans as well as bagels, croissants, and other pastries! Beans & Bagels would like to work on gaining certified access to renewable energy for their location by November 2022. They would also like to confirm a partner for a reusable container system.
Beauty & Brawn is a curatorial partnership that aids in the creation and management of unforgettable art works, collaborations, and experiences. They offer services in custom art, murals, installation creations, project management, and collection building. Beauty & Brawn will develop a pilot leather Welcome Journal using locally-sourced leather by November 2022.
BLISS JOY BULL is a woman-owned and operated business that aims to create one-of-a-kind clothing and home decorations from fabric taken from landfills as well as certified organic fabrics. The company strives for a zero waste approach by recognizing that there is already more than enough fabrics that exist that can be repurposed to last multiple lifetimes. BLISS JOY BULL rescues garments that would have otherwise been thrown away and gives them a new life. As part of their circular economy goal, BLISS JOY BULL will focus on teaching more people how to mend their garments.
Bridge & Bloom Farms is an urban farm that serves a multitude of Chicago neighborhoods by offering community supported agriculture (CSA) produce boxes on a sliding scale, donating surpluses to food pantries, and selling their products wholesale to local businesses and restaurants. All of their cultivation and harvest is done organically and by hand using simple tools as well as a drip irrigation system to reduce water waste. Bridge & Bloom Farms will join efforts with a “safety valve” partner for their excess/imperfect products to divert consumables from the landfill by November 2022.
Eco & the Flamingo is Chicago’s first zero waste general store, located in Lincoln Square and Evanston. You can find skin care, bulk food & oils, cleaning products, and more - all available for purchase by using your own containers. For their circular economy goal, Eco & the Flamingo would like to work with third-party logistics companies to reduce the amount of plastic wrap used for shipping pallets.
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. For their circular economy goal work, Indigo & Violet Studio will host an “Imperfect Floral”-esque workshop featuring a BYO-Vase component, rescued flowers, and rescued foam by November 2022.
Little Bad & Co. is a queer owned and operated online vintage shop that works to highlight the value old clothing and "artifacts" while keeping them in use. They aim to incorporate more upcycling / repair to keep otherwise unwanted garments out of our landfills. Additionally, Little Bad & Co. will opt for more sustainable packaging, more in-person sales (in order to decrease dependence on shipping) and eventually add Instagram story sales with a portion of proceeds going to mutual aid.
Little Mama’s Cookies is a small bakery business founded by Tonja Diaz, who first started the company as a means to cover her son’s high school fees. Now, she sells a variety of homemade cookies made all from scratch with high quality ingredients and no preservatives. Ordering can be done online and in batches of 6, 12, or 24. Little Mama’s Cookies is also a vendor at Park Forest farmer’s market, where cookies are sold by the box. Little Mama’s Cookies will implement package-free operations for farmers markets booths by November 2022.