Shop, eat and drink with a green mindset

Making an impact in Madison is easier than you think.
A plant design tote bag slug over a woman's shoulder and the woman is wearing an embroidered jean jacket and is standing in front of a lot of big potted plants
(Photo courtesy of Hailee Von Haden)
Take a reusable tote with you to avoid single-use plastic bags.

How, you might ask, can you make an individual effort to protect our planet? Well, it starts with the decisions you make. Small choices and minor tweaks in our consumerism might not feel like much, but making habits out of these changes will produce change in return. It doesn’t have to be hard, and in Madison, there are plenty of ways to start.

Buy Used. In normal circumstances, we would suggest you take the afternoon and go garage sale shopping, or stop by one of the many thrift stores downtown and around the Madison area to seek out used clothing. But, in order to keep yourself and others healthy and safe, it is necessary to practice social distancing at this time. Yet, there are still ways to browse used outfits from your own home. ReFind Style, a thrift and consignment store on Monroe Street, has an online catalog on its website, as well as items for purchase on its Facebook page. Buying used means you are reusing a product, which saves on production, packaging and transportation. Take a few tips from local blogger @sunsetsaraid, who recently put together three impressive 1920s-inspired looks using thrifted items.

Bring your own shopping bag. By having a reusable shopping bag, you are reducing the amount of waste that plastic and paper bags produce. It’s that simple. Pick one a custom tote from Wildewood, the plant shop owned by Kate Holl. This custom canvas bag was designed by local artist Hailee Von Haden (pictured above holding the tote), who is the store manager at Wildewood. The $10 totes are available at store on 702 E. Johnson St. and Wildewood’s pop-up shop at 733 Hilldale Way. Editor’s Note: Both Wildewood storefronts are currently closed, but you can purchase a gift card here to use later when the shops reopen. Also, some shopping establishments are not allowing the use of brought-from-home bags while we continue to fight COVID-19.

Shop for natural clothing. Fair Indigo, an e-commerce business based in Madison, produces clothing to change the way we think about what we wear. The company’s sustainable clothing starts with the materials used, with cotton grown on small family farms in Peru. Not only is it natural, it also grows organically, meaning it’s pesticide and fertilizer free. Dyes that are used to color clothes are earth-friendly and the gentlest available, and products from Fair Indigo come without tags, meaning less waste. Most of Fair Indigo’s spring collection is in stock for online ordering, but be aware that there might be temporary delays with some of the remaining spring styles, as the company (including its Peru partners) tries to stay safe during this pandemic.

Buy Local. Buying products from local vendors – like the ones around Capitol Square at the Dane County Farmers’ Market — not only supports your local economy but cuts down on transportation and packaging. The Late Winter Market, which runs from January to April, is closed indefinitely for health and safety, but you can now buy directly from your favorite vendors at this time. Check out this list of vendors that the DCFM put together, and support your community!

Support restaurants that use local foods. Eating at restaurants that buy local ingredients supports the Madison economy, but also reduces the adverse effects of packaging and transportation. Many restaurants in the Madison area pride themselves on incorporating local ingredients into menu items. Restaurants like Harvest and Graze both serve meals farm-to-table, and of course, L’Etoile, which helped start the local food movement more than 40 years ago. Delivery and curbside pickup are now available at all three and many more restaurants. Find other takeout options here.

Eat Vegetarian/Vegan. Make a vegetarian meal once a week. Processing animals for consumption uses a lot of energy and releases a large amount of greenhouse gases. Restaurants like The Green Owl Café, which is also offering delivery and pickup, aim to please by offering vegetarian and vegan twists on classic meals.

Eat food that supports the community. Willy Street Co-op stocks shelves with organic and local ingredients while also serving the Madison community. As a co-op, Willy Street strives to uphold owner values in everything including sustainable living and social responsibility through actions.

Drink local. We consider this one a no-brainer. Drinking beer produced locally reduces the amount of fossil fuel used in transportation, but also: Wisconsin-brewed beer is some of the best. What’s the name of our state’s MLB team again? Most local brewing companies brew beer on site, dramatically reducing the adverse environmental impact of packaging and transportation. And honestly, the local brewery scene in Madison is exploding, so locating where to get your next drink from should in no way be a difficult task, even amid storefront closures. Many currently offer to-go orders. Here is a good place to start: Breweries, Wineries & Distilleries in the Madison Area

It doesn’t just have to be beer, though. There is a plethora of wineries and distilleries in and around Madison that produce similarly exceptional beverages. Check out these 17 Madison-area taprooms new beers, spirits and small-batch ciders.

Invest in a water bottle. Having a water bottle that can be reused cuts down on the amount of waste that plastic bottles produce. Note, though, that buying an aluminum water bottle is preferred to plastic, because its production is the most earth-friendly. Take a look at all of these options from the UW Bookstore!

Hannah Twietmeyer is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.

Editor’s Note: This article has been adapted and updated from a previously published article from Madison Magazine’s archives.

To read more stories from Madison Magazine’s Beyond Earth Day section, click here.