Zero Waste Chicago + BarnRaise

Our daily choices have a major impact on how much waste we create. Barnraise partner, Zero Waste Chicago is a nonprofit environmental organization working to reduce waste in Chicago through education and resource distribution. Jointly founded by Moira Kelley, Celia Ristow, and Bailey Warren, Zero Waste collaborates with individuals, communities, and businesses to support their efforts to reduce waste.

The organization is less than a year old, but has already taken steps to help consumers make habitual changes that divert waste away from landfills. Zero Waste hosts workshops, meetups, and community events, and their website offers lists of places to buy waste-free goods from bulk olive oil to bamboo toothbrushes.

Many businesses do not offer consumers the option to purchase food in quantities they will actually consume, creating significant food waste. The Zero Waste team hopes to see more bulk food shopping options around the city, and expansion of the types of products sold in bulk.

Chicago health code prohibits consumers from bringing their own containers when they shop in the bulk section (BYOC shopping). If BYOC shopping were allowed, consumers would better be able to portion out their foods to the exact amounts they need rather than relying on disposable packaging and guessing how much weight of a certain food they require. Kelley, Ristow, and Warren aim to create solutions that would make zero waste a possibility for Chicago.

Zero Waste is currently pursuing 501(c)(3) status, and hopes to continue growing as an organization so they can reach a wider audience and take on larger projects. They are excited to collaborate with other passionate people working to reduce food waste at Barnraise, and connect with partners who can help them realize their vision.

Meet the Zero Waste team at BarnRaise.

Written by Maia Welbel, an MSJ candidate at the Medill School of Journalism. She writes about sustainability and food systems.