The Top 14 Socially Responsible Businesses
In a recent #IdeasChat with Flowers for Dreams, the conversation turned to the topic of supporting all of Chicago’s socially conscious for-profits businesses. We went in search of a guide to Chicago’s businesses with a heart—the types of business we think of as the Warby Parkers of the world—but found nothing.
So, we’ve compiled our own list. Here, we’ve included some of the most interesting, socially minded and unabashedly for-profit businesses we could find. Have another socially conscious business you frequent and love? Tell us about it in the comments, tweet at us or share on Facebook!
3101 S. Morgan St.
This Bridgeport-based coffee roaster not only values sustainable coffee farming practices and healthy relationships between farmer and roaster; it is also dedicated to supporting local fundraising causes. Bridgeport Coffee’s Bubbly Creek Blend is named in honor of the Wetlands Initiative’s effort to turn the heavily polluted Bubbly Creek into the ecosystem it was before the meatpacking industry took over. Bridgeport Coffee also has a structured program to allow organizations to sell some of their roasts and blends to support their fundraising goals.
959 N. Western Ave. & 600 N. LaSalle St.
Like many up and coming restaurants, Leghorn Chicken sources its ingredients from sustainable and local sources whenever possible, but it distinguishes itself in the fried chicken world for its additional commitment to social justice for humans as well as animals. Leghorn proudly donates 2 percent of its revenue to organizations that support LGBTQ rights.
3279 W. Armitage Ave.
These custom button makers have been charming Chicagoans with their unique button designs and clever distribution methods like the Button-O-Matic, a gumball machine full of buttons. Busy Beaver utilizes solar panels and sources most of its materials from within a 100-mile radius, always striving to (as they say) reduce their “carbon pawprint.” But Busy Beaver is more than just a cheekily charming custom button company. It aims to create an an environmentally sustainable manufacturing business.
1401 W. Devon Ave. & 3800 N. Clark St.
You might know Uncommon Ground as one of the greenest restaurants in the city with its sustainable rooftop garden that uses reclaimed materials and organic farming methods. What you might not know is that its dedication to environmental sustainability extends well beyond their impressive gardens. Uncommon Ground offers 10 percent discounts to customers who reduce their carbon footprint by walking or biking to their Wrigleyville or Rogers Park location. Uncommon Ground also donates its used fryer oil to Loyola University Chicago’s biodiesel program, growing a bond founded on Rogers Park’s neighborly spirit and passion for reducing waste.
2650 N. Milwaukee Ave.
This Logan Square–based stationary company is dedicated to making sure that its boutique approach to stationary is sustainable beyond just recycling excess paper. Spilled Ink exclusively uses FSC certified paper stock, the gold standard of sustainable harvesting practices. Amanda Eich and Anthony Vassallo, the husband and wife team behind Spilled Ink helped found a non-profit group called the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance with the goal of fostering a more eco-conscious wedding industry in Chicago.
2113 W. Armitage Ave.
Founded in 2013, BFF Bikes is the brainchild of Annie Byrne and Vanessa Buccella, avid cyclists and close friends. They began BFF Bikes with the intention of creating a space for women cyclists of all skill levels in the male-dominated bike scene. BFF Bikes holds classes, clinics and group rides that support community and build competency in mechanics. On the first Wednesday of the month, BFF Bikes holds a basic maintenance class for women.
7000 N. Glenwood Ave.
Nestled in Rogers Park at the upper edge of the city lies this neighborhood mainstay. Heartland Cafe serves up a mean buffalo chili alongside its commitment to creating political dialogue and civic community. Every Saturday from 9 to 10am, the Heartland tapes “Live From the Heartland,” a social justice oriented show broadcast on 88.7 WLUW.
Named for the main street of the Boystown neighborhood, Halsted Vodka is dedicated to supporting LGBTQ issues, as well as nightlife revelry. Halsted Vodka donates 15 percent of its profits to various nonprofit organizations around the city and state including Equality Illinois, Center on Halsted, Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and Lesbian Community Cares Project at Howard Brown.
3039 W. Fullerton Ave.
Dill Pickle, owned and run by its members, offers a small but carefully curated selection of artisanal groceries. With rising concerns about where our food comes from, Dill Pickle is an example of how members of a neighborhood can work together to create and maintain a grocery store that blends sustainable food practices with sustainable operating practices.
1908 W. Chicago Ave.
Comrade Cycles, as the name implies, is a worker-owned bicycle shop. Comrade Cycles believes that businesses function better when employees are actively engaged in making business decisions and are, in fact, owners of the store at which they work. These comrades believe they can offer superior customer service if the workers have a sense of ownership over the work that they do and the store in which they do it.
5233 N. Clark St.
Since 1979, this Andersonville bookstore has been a staple for many intersecting communities in Chicago: feminists, avid readers, LGBTQ folks, young children, poets and more. Women & Children First hosts book clubs and author readings, and lists community resources for gender equality on its website. Italso established the Women’s Voices Fund in 2005 to maintain its diverse programming for children and adults alike, fusing community building with literary and political discourse.
2918 N. Milwaukee Ave.
This Avondale-based florist uses local and sustainably sourced flowers for weddings and other special events. Pollen seeks to embrace the biodiversity and seasonality of Midwestern living. Pollen founder Lynn Fosbender is, like the owners of Spilled Ink Press, a co-founder of the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance.
Local perfumers Tru Blooms use local herbs and flowers to make seasonal and limited-run fragrances. Tru Blooms partners with park districts, urban farms, museums and botanical gardens to grow its flowers and herbs, beautifying the city and providing farming experience and know-how to individuals across the city.