CARRIER OF HOPE 1 – Zero Waste in Chicago

Category: Garbage – Trash – Rubbish – Waste 

As mentioned at the beginning of 2016, I like to present different people, projects and ideas during this year. Projects, that inspire me. These stories are my personal reasons to hope, to hope for a better future, hope that our Mother Earth will stand a chance. As it is a personal view and thoroughly depending on my own resources, there is no guarantee of completeness.

My Motivation

In German we use often metamorphic language to express emotions, like a feeling that gets you right into your chest, or pins and needles in your fingers while dealing with a problem. Others experience upsetting situations that result in stomach-ache. What I’m talking about is my feeling of powerlessness while reading news, observing fellow human beings, or only by cycling to work. People’s behaviour can be frustrating to a point where you get so upset, that it overshadows your own thoughts. To overcome feelings like depression, aggression or fear I look for people who stand out. They step outside the comfort zone and start creating something new. They show the world, that there is a way to connect with the earth or to live a more environmental friendly life. These people give me strength. And I’m totally grateful for the spirit that enlightens them.

The upcoming posts will be categorised concerning different aspects of our daily life. I will add the categories as I go along. You’ll find this post also in German, if necessary :)

I like to begin with the Zero Waste Movement. In this text you will not find a portrait about well-known people like the lovely Lauren Singer in a single apartment or the inspiring Johnson’s family. I want to opt for more. The first story is one about a fast food Restaurant based in Chicago. Yes, correct. We are talking about one of the biggest rubbish contributors, the land with the greatest dreams. Especially here, you’ll find little shops that challenge Goliath.

I’m happy to present the chef and owner Justin Vrany and his Restaurant Sandwich Me In. Justin is not reaching for the Michelin Star (but who knows if he is not getting one anyway), but his goal is far greater, he is aiming for a 100% Zero Waste Restaurant.

All of the waste is composted or recycled. The raw vegetable and fruit compost are given to chickens to a farm nearby, in return the farm delivers the eggs. The electricity is generated from wind power and all of the used oil is recycled in bio-diesel engines. The interior and equipment are made of reused materials. He buys at local farms and uses mainly local products. Justin is preparing his meals with his own sauces, mustards and toppings, and even the beverages in his restaurant are „home-made“. In addition: You can compost or recycle all his take away materials. And you even get a vegan burger. I like that!

Justin estimates, he has lowered the restaurants carbon foot print by about 85% and he is still aiming for more. He will not stop until the Sandwich Me In is at 100%.

Watch the short video about the owner and chef, and learn the motivation behind his goals! inspiring!

If you need to know more about the restaurant click here.

(Clarification: I don’t know the owner personally, I’m sharing his story only to inspire others, not for personal gain of any kind.)


In the upcoming post we’ll aim for more. You don’t believe what’s possible if people really care about their waste.

Let me know if you like Justin’s approach, tell me if you think I am behind the times and you like to see something new instead. Even better, write me if you already had a chance to eat at Sandwich Me In. Justin, you’re also welcome to write ;)

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