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The Green Scene

Sustainability efforts in McHenry County are gaining momentum.

Sustainability – call it a movement, but don’t call it a fad. Sustainable living, which among other positive outcomes reduces the use of Earth’s natural resources, continues to gain momentum worldwide, and McHenry County is a true leader.

Making sustainable choices is easier than you think – you might already be making them. Environmental Defenders of McHenry County suggests consumers always keep one question in mind: “Do I need this?”

“And if you don’t need it, don’t use it, don’t buy it and don’t waste resources on it,” the Defenders said. “If you do need it, then keep it, don’t throw it away and don’t buy new. If we keep this idea in mind, we can slow down our culture of waste and reduce our use of water and other natural resources so that they will still be available for us and for future generations.

We challenge you to make just one sustainable choice this spring whether it’s trying a restaurant that sources local, organic food or patronizing a business that uses Earth-friendly practices.

We’ve listed the following local businesses and organizations to help you get started:

Earth-Friendly Fare

  • 1776 Restaurant: The restaurant uses organic grains, local vegetables, wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats that were not raised with antibiotics or hormones. It also recycles everything possible from glass, metal and paper to wine corks and vegetable scraps, Crystal Lake,
  • Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters: This shop acquires economically and environmentally sustainable coffees from the world’s best small-plot and cooperative farms, Crystal Lake,
  • Crystal Lake Health Food Store: The store sells natural and organic foods, and organic, free-range meats in addition to natural supplements, downtown Crystal Lake,
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): CSA is a way for consumers to receive a weekly basket of produce from a local farm for a fee. There are a number of CSAs in McHenry County,
  • Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen: Duke’s menu features local and organic farmers’ produce, meat, poultry and fish – some fruits and vegetables are from Duke’s own farm and greenhouse. Duke’s has eliminated 99 percent of its waste by composting and recycling, and is a 3-Star Certified Green Restaurant, downtown Crystal Lake,
  • Ethereal Confections: Organic chocolates and tea, Conscious Cup coffee, craft beer, small plates featuring locally sourced ingredients and more can be found at Ethereal, Woodstock Square,
  • Farmers Markets: Shopping farmers markets means you are not only buying in-season produce at its peak flavor and nutritional value, but you’re directly contributing to your local farmers’ bottom lines. Plus, because the food is traveling a short distance from farm to plate, it requires less fossil fuel. McHenry County is home to many regular farmers markets, including the award-winning semiweekly Woodstock Farmers Market,
  • Le Petit Marché: Le Petit Marché’s coffee, teas and wines are organic, as are some of the fruits used for baking; pastries and breads are made from scratch, downtown Crystal Lake,
  • The Food Shed Co-op: The Food Shed is working toward opening a co-op in McHenry County as soon as ownership and financial requirements are met. A co-op is a member-owned and operated grocery store that is more socially responsible than corporate chains because it provides more fresh, organic and local foods, and choices are driven by members, not stockholders,
  • Quarter Circle Seven (Q7) Ranch: This family-owned and operated, all-natural, grass-fed beef cattle ranch boasts no hormone implants or additives, no antibiotics and no herbicides applied to pastures, Marengo,

Good, Green Fun

  • Bike Haven: Bicycles are the epitome of sustainable transportation – they are energy efficient, affordable and nonpolluting. Plus, cycling improves cardio-vascular fitness, among other health benefits. The Bike Haven is a family-owned shop that in addition to selling and servicing bikes, incorporates eco-friendly business practices, McHenry,
  • Green Box Boutique: The store focuses on products – from clothing to gourmet food – that are fair trade, local, organic and affordable, Woodstock Square,
  • Marvin’s Toy Store: The storesells toys and games that fall under the categories of socially responsible, fair trade, organic, recycled, parent-crafted, green and/or natural, downtown Crystal Lake,
  • McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD): Enjoying the vast recreational opportunities offered by MCCD’s 33 public sites definitely demonstrates sustainable living and celebrates our beautiful, natural county. Check out a trail, picnic shelter, campsite, fishing site and more,
  • Park Districts: Your local park district’s parks, nature centers, beaches and programs aim to preserve and protect our natural resources, and educate residents, so all can enjoy these beautiful natural areas.

   Home & Business

  • Environmental Defenders of McHenry County (EDMC): EDMC is dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the environment, and provides the community with educational programs and volunteer action on pollution prevention, sustainable land use, and energy and natural resource conservation, Woodstock,
  • Korte Architecture: This full-service architecture and engineering firm boasts sustainable design experience and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, Crystal Lake,
  • McHenry County College (MCC) Sustainability Center: MCC Sustainability Center is focused on green campus, green education and green community efforts. MCC’s Green Guide is the official recycling directory for McHenry County,
  • Midwest Homes: Midwest Homes offers home contracting and custom renovation services using the Envision. Home at Last homebuilding approach, which features industry-leading green building construction practices, McHenry,
  • The Land Conservancy (TLC): TLC has helped protect more than 1,900 acres of McHenry County’s prairies, wetlands and woodlands by working with private landowners, communities and other partners, Woodstock,

Have you incorporated sustainable practices in yoru life? Tell us about it! Share your stories and photos of sustainable living and tell us about your favorite green businesses and organizations at

Check out our Sustainable Living Ideas board on Pinterest for more ideas!

What people are saying about sustainability …

“Sustainability is [meeting] the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” – Environmental Defenders of McHenry County

“I want to help the planet and the people on it become healthier.” –Zak Dolezal, chef/owner, Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen

“Buy local. Acquire a network of food sources that respect our Earth. Visit each farm.” –Andy Andresky, owner, 1776 Restaurant

“Sustainability is all about the relationship between the choices we make and their effects on our surroundings both globally and locally.” –Pat Dieckhoff, sustainability specialist, McHenry County College.

“The choices I make in purchasing products, running my shop and disposing of waste fit into a cycle that has effects on the natural world and impacts our resources. “ –Lori McConville, owner, Marvin’s Toy Store

”One small way anyone can make their life more sustainable life right now is to invest in a bicycle … it’s a green family activity [and part of a] healthy lifestyle.” – Josh Arnow, owner, The Bike Haven

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