Hemp, Bamboo Pillows And Vegan Crackers? It Must Be The Green Festival

There’s a scene from an episode of “Mad Men” where the Draper family has a picnic in an idyllic park setting. As they’re leaving, they toss all their trash directly on the grass. It’s unsettling to watch but it also speaks volumes about how as a society we’ve become a bit more enlightened in the past 50 years.

While news of the disappearing polar ice cap is depressing, there are times when you think there may be hope for the planet. I felt that way walking through the exhibit hall at Navy Pier recently during the Chicago Green Festival.

There were lots of vegan food booths, eco-fashion exhibits and a yoga pavilion. A friendly hemp seed hawker gave me free samples. They’re crunchy but non-hallucinogenic. A serious-looking fracking educator (there were quite a few of them) asked me sternly: “What do YOU think about fracking?!”

I wisely answered that I was not a fan.

The Swheat Scoop cat litter lady clued me in to a neighboring booth selling bamboo pillows. “The softest pillow you’ve ever slept on!” the pillow man told me. I guess the only danger of owning one is if you have a pet panda who might get the munchies after eating hemp seeds and crave a midnight snack.

D.J. Widmer, vice president of Colorhouse

D.J. Widmer, vice president of Colorhouse

Then I checked out a product that will be welcome to any environmentally-conscious architect, designer or rehabber: Colorhouse Paint. The Portland-based paint manufacturer produces one of the most eco-friendly lines of paint on the market. Even the containers the paint comes in are recycled.

DJ Widmer, a Colorhouse vice president, told me why the product would be attractive to architects.

“If they’re trying for LEED certification, and they use Colorhouse for interior coating, they get a LEED point,” he said. “It’s got non-toxic fumes, zero VOC+ and restricted chemicals. But, it’s still a thick, premium paint, which architects care about. It’s acrylic, latex-based, it just doesn’t have any of the bad stuff.”

The visit to Chicago for Colorhouse was something of a coming-out party, too, Widmer explained. The paint has been available online for some time, but it’s now being carried by select Home Depot locations.

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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