Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions!

2013 is quickly approaching so if you haven’t come up with your New Year’s Resolution just yet here are some “green” suggestions - some small, and some requiring a bit more commitment. Although it may be difficult to maintain the goal for the entire year it is important to at least have the mindset that you can improve something this year.

Last year HI-Chicago determined to become a more sustainable hostel and we have certainly done so with our many green initiatives. We will continue to improve in the coming year. One great way to do this is by setting green goals. With our two EZ H2O water stations (fountains) installed we hope to save at least 10,000 water bottles in 2013!
What do you plan to do in the upcoming year?

1. Purchase a Reusable Water Bottle and USE it!!!
Or if you are staying at our hostel, comment on this post or answer a question about the blog at our Info Desk and you will receive one for free! Fill it up at our newly installed EZH20 Water Stations specifically designed for filling up water bottles. Over 1000 bottles saved this past month!

2. Ride your Bicycle or Use Public Transportation!
If staying at the hostel, public transportation is easily accessible, inexpensive, and convenient! Take the CTA Bus, the “L” or the Metra.

3. Use a Reusable Bag instead of Plastic Bags!
You will save hundreds if not thousands of bags throughout the year.
4. Spend More Time Outdoors!
Enjoy the many wonderful parks that your city has to offer! If staying at HI-Chicago make sure to check out Millennium Park and Grant Park!
5. Recycle More!
Start by recycling your real Christmas tree instead of simply dumping it out!
6. Reduce Consumption!
Use less water, electricity, and containers. Use reusable products whenever available.

7. Install Energy Efficient Lighting!
Save electricity, money and the environment using CFL’s and LED light bulbs!

8. Volunteer in a Green Effort Once a month!
Plenty activities are available around the city of Chicago year round - indoor as well as outdoor.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Clean VS. Green: Finding a Happy Medium

When it comes to cleaning products it is difficult to find a good balance between a product that will perform well in a building of the scale of HI-Chicago, but one that will also be environmentally friendly. Many chemical products do a great job disinfecting and getting rid of all the dirt and grime. This is a priority for us, as we want all of our guests to feel comfortable in a clean environment. However, many chemical cleaning products often can be harsh on the environment. For example disinfectants kill virtually all bacteria, which can in fact have negative effects on the environment and arguably on our health, as we will not build immunity to many of these common bacteria. In addition some products can release chemicals that can be toxic. We have already been using multiple “green” products for a significant amount of time. However, in our pursuit of excellence, we are continually searching for something that will better fulfill all of our criteria. Currently we are completing further research and comparing products to determine which products will perform the best while also truly being “green” and safe for our environment, guests and staff.

Let us know what is a priority for you - A “clean” environment, or a “green” environment? When is clean to clean? And when is green too green?

For example, the LEED certification has the following certification for hand soap:

“No antimicrobial agents (other than as a preservative) except where required by health codes and other regulations (i.e., food service and health care requirements).”

This standard is likely an attempt to curtail the very high use and dependency of places on antimicrobial products. Do you support this standard? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Check our blog regularly to stay updated on the progress that we continue to make in finding the best eco-friendly cleaning products!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fake Tree VS. Real Tree

During this holiday season you can easily spot a Christmas tree decorated and lit just about anywhere. As Christmas trees are purchased, many people face the question of real versus fake.

Some people prefer the tradition behind going out and choosing a natural Christmas tree every year and bringing it home with the family. With it comes the wonderful pine tree scent and the aesthetic of the real tree. Others however, prefer the convenience of a fake Christmas tree. Since it is reusable, there is no need to search for the perfect tree over and over again. In addition many fake trees come pre-lit.

However, in addition to convenience, aesthetics, and tradition, one should also consider which tree is more environmentally friendly,and healthier for the family members.

Following is the most comprehensive summary of the pros and cons of both options as outlined in an article by Prevention News.

(Link to the full article -> )

(Real) Fresh Christmas Trees

Pros: Few Christmas trees come from forests anymore. Virtually all of them are grown on plantations, and those plantations are located in all 50 states, making fresh Christmas trees easy to find locally. Buying real trees helps support small local farmers, and at the end of the holiday season, the trees can be mulched up and used to feed plants or find some other environmentally friendly purpose.

Cons: Those real trees have real pest problems, and are usually grown with pesticides that are toxic to wildlife and, in some cases, to people. The most commonly used pesticide is Roundup, which is toxic to some birds and fish and was recently discovered to be toxic to human cells due to all the inert ingredients used. The Environmental Protection Agency has banned indoor use of some of the pesticides used on Christmas trees, such as chlorpyrifos and malathion, which damage human nervous systems.

Fake Christmas Trees

Pros: They're cheap, reusable, and may even come conveniently pre-decorated.

Cons: All that budget decorating comes at a cost to the environment. Fake trees are made from the plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and the toxic chemical dioxin is released during PVC production. (By the way, in the event of a fire, the tree will burn and emit dioxin.) PVC contains hormone-disrupting plastic softeners called phthalates. And many fake trees have been found to be contaminated with lead. In fact, many of them come with a warning label advising you to wash your hands after handling them to prevent ingestion of the brain-damaging metal. Also, the plastic tree can't be recycled, should you decide to ditch it for a newer model. So it's going to and wind up in a landfill and stay there forever, barring some intervention from St. Nick.

The “Comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Artificial VS Natural Christmas Tree” is the most thorough study completed comparing the two types of trees. It was performed in 2009 by “Ellipsos” research firm of Canada. One of the primary conclusion reached is that “ Clients who prefer using the artificial tree can reduce their impacts on all categories by increasing the life span of their tree, ideally over 20 years. (

Rarely are fake trees kept for that long. In addition, with children around the house, it is important to consider the potential negative effects to one’s health if the tree is touched often.

There may not be one clear answer to this question. The better option depends on multiple factors. Following are some questions that you can ask yourself when choosing a tree. How long do I plan on keeping the tree? What environement will it be in? Inside of a home with children? At my office?
As a hostel, we have many guests circulating through our building. Thus, we must be careful not to trigger any allergies that our guests may have.We chose to purchase fake christmas trees which we have now been using for years and will hopefully be used for many more years to come, thereby minimizing the carbon footprint.

So what will it be? Real or fake? Let us know!



Monday, December 3, 2012

To Ban, or Not to Ban?

That is the plastic bag question!

Recently a global movement is taking place to decrease the use of plastic bags. Many cities around the world have already banned plastic bags; Modbury, England; Mexico City, Mexico;  Delhi, India; San Francisco, United States; and the entire country of Rwanda.  These efforts are being made due to the many negative effects that plastic bags have on the environment. Considering the scale at which plastic bags are currently relied on, the usage and thus damage done is enormous.
Following are some statistics provided by

* According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers: $4 billion)

* Only 1-3% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide.
* Plastic bags are made of polyethylene which is a petroleum product. Production contributes to air pollution and energy consumption.

* It takes 1000 years for polyethylene bags to break down.
* Approximately 1 billion seabirds and mammals die each year by ingesting plastic bags. Not only that, these poor animals suffer a painful death. The plastic wraps around their intestines or they choke to death.

 A snapping turtle caught in plastic
According to, the solution however is not a ban. They argue that this will evoke a emotional response. Which can in turn result in opposition. This has recently been witnessed in Illinois, when a bill was proposed to prohibit the enactment of laws that would ban plastic bags. This bill was strongly supported by businesses, especially the plastic bag industry, because it would ensure that plastic bags would always be allowed to be in usage. instead proposes a tax. Click on the link below to find more information on their idea of an effective solution.

What do you think? Is it important to decrease our usage of plastic bags? Which is better according to you, a ban, a tax, or maybe another option? Is your city of permanent residence making any efforts to decrease the amount of plastic bags use annually?  

Whether at home or staying at a hostel, next time you go grocery shopping, consider bringing a reusable bag instead of a plastic one. Especially since now in many cities it may not be wise to assume that you will simply be provided with bags for no extra cost.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Fill 'em Up! EZH2O Water Station Ready for Use!

The EZH2O Elkay water filling station has now been installed!!! It can be found across from the library. Get your free aluminum water bottle from the information desk by answering just one simple question about this post, and fill it up!!! This water station is designed for your convenience. All you need to do is place the bottle with one hand on the bottle holder and it will fill up 3 times as quickly as it would at a normal water fountain without any of the hassle of half the water pouring outside of your bottle.

It’s Simple! Healthy! And Free!
Campuses across the U.S. are installing water stations to allow for convenient fill up of reusable water bottles. This is done in an effort to reduce the enormous amount of plastic waste that we accumulate each year because of the amount of plastic water bottles tossed daily.
The Loyola campus serves as a great example, by saving over 370,000 plastic bottles already (2011).
Now it is time for us to bring this effort to hostels! It is time to bring tap water back into style and reduce the demand for bottled water! In just 4.5 days we have already saved 151 bottles so we are well on our way! Get your free quality water bottle today!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Story of Bottled Water - A Short Video

This short video will only take up 8 minutes of your time but can have a lasting effect on your actions. If you drink bottled water please ask yourself why it is that you prefer bottled water over tap. Does it really taste better? Is it actually safer or healthier? Is it really that convenient? Is it worth the high cost and the pollution?

In an effort to reduce the consumption of bottled water, HI-Chicago will be starting an aluminum water bottle give-away beginning this week. To participate simply stay updated on our blogs and answer one question regarding the blog posted that week. For more information please speak to our staff at the information desk located on the second floor of the hostel (Limit: 1 bottle per guest).

The Story of Bottled Water (2010)

By Annie Leonard

“ The Story of Bottled Water, released on March 22, 2010 (World Water Day) employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand—how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industry’s attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces. The film concludes with a call to take back the tap, not only by making a personal commitment to avoid bottled water, but by supporting investments in clean, available tap water for all.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Holiday Season is Here!

As the Chicago air continues to chill, the season of celebration is upon us. There are plenty of great events to attend this season and we have compiled a list to get you started!  

 November 17: Magnificent Mile Lights Parade.  Celebrate Chicago's kick-off to the holiday season.  Sample holiday treats, listen to carolers and visit with Disney characters on Pioneer Court.  Admission is free.  11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Lights Parade begins at 6 p.m.

November 19: 96th Annual City of Chicago Tree Lighting Ceremony.  Daley Plaza.  Watch as the holiday tree is illuminated and stay for free musical entertainment and holiday events.  Tree lighting takes place at 5 p.m.


At HI-Chicago!

November 22:  HI-Chicago Annual Thanksgiving Dinner  With Thanksgiving only a week away, HI-Chicago is preparing for the annual Thanksgiving Dinner at 5 p.m. Help us to make it a warm holiday by lending a helping hand or simply sharing in the meal.  Volunteers would be helpful from 2-5 and 5-7.  We hope to see you there!  

November 22: McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade.  State St. from Congress to Randolph.  Begins at 8 a.m.

November 22-December 24: Christkindlmarket.  Experience exceptional shopping opportunities and a winter wonderland as Daley Plaza is transformed into a festive meeting place for friends and family.  Admission is free.  Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Thanksgiving Day (November 22) and Christmas Eve (December 24), 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

November 23-25, 30; December 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 26-31; January 1-6.  ZooLights Festival.  This annual fun, free, family-oriented holiday celebration features luminous displays and holiday-season activities throughout zoo grounds.

November 15-December 23.  Caroling at Gloud Gate.  Every Friday night throughout the holiday season come to Cloud Gate, a.k.a. The Bean, to hear a variety of choral groups and to join in for a holiday sing-along.  6 p.m.

Winter WonderFest.  Navy Pier.  The Chicago holiday tradition delights both young and old with a breathtaking winter wonderland of hundreds of trees and thousands of holiday lights, as well as rides and an indoor ice skating rink.

December 31, 7 p.m. and midnight.  New Year's Eve Family and Midnight Fireworks. 

 Stay tuned for additional Chicago fun here:

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Story of Bottled Water - A Short Video

This short video will only take up 8 minutes of your time but can have a lasting effect on your actions. If you drink bottled water please ask yourself why it is that you prefer bottled water over tap. Does it really taste better? Is it actually safer or healthier? Is it really that convenient? Is it worth the high cost and the pollution?

In an effort to reduce the consumption of bottled water, HI-Chicago will be starting an aluminum water bottle give-away beginning this week.  To participate simply stay updated on our blogs and answer one question regarding the blog posted that week. For more information please speak to our staff at the information desk located on the second floor of the hostel (Limit: 1 bottle per guest).

The Story of Bottled Water (2010)

By Annie Leonard

“ The Story of Bottled Water, released on March 22, 2010 (World Water Day) employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand—how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industry’s attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces. The film concludes with a call to take back the tap, not only by making a personal commitment to avoid bottled water, but by supporting investments in clean, available tap water for all.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Take the CTA!

Your destination may just be one bus ride or “L” ride away. With our extensive public transportation system, moving around the city of Chicago can be easy. Just visit the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) website to plan your trip
With the daily and weekly passes, choosing the public transportation option can save you a lot of money during your travels. Following are the costs for popular passes:
1 Day Pass: $5.75
3 Day Pass: $14.00
7 Day Pass: $23.00

The ridership amount has certainly increased in the past few years. With the high gas prices and the convenience of the public transportation system, why not join the growing trend?
  • In 2011, CTA provided roughly 532 million rides on buses and trains compared to 440 Million in 1997.
  • 2011 marked a 2.9% ridership increase over 2010, and the highest CTA ridership level since 1991.

In addition, it allows you to reduce your carbon footprint by preventing additional pollution produced by taxis which you would otherwise be producing a demand for. So become a green traveler and learn the facts that will allow you to become more aware of the contributions that you are making through your decisions.

The CTA replaces the equivalent of about 400,000 vehicles on regional roads each weekday. A full eight-car CTA train replaces more than 600 cars, and a full 60-foot articulated CTA bus replaces more than 70 cars.
Switching from driving to public transit can reduce an individual's carbon emissions by about 4,800 pounds per year. 
For more information regarding Ridership and emissions visit:

For more information about the CTA that is “Going Green” visit

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hostelling International Chicago 2012 Peace Conference: Disruptive Thinking

Save the Date!  

Hostelling International Chicago will be hosting its annual Peace Conference:

Saturday, October 27th from 8am-7pm and Sunday, October 28th, 9am-6pm. 

In the past, Hostelling International-USA has hosted Peace Conferences bringing together diverse groups in their city’s communities.  This year, both Hostelling International-San Diego and Hostelling International-Washington, DC have successfully brought together community members to promote the idea of peace and to empower young adults to make a positive impact on their local and global communities alike.  Each highlighted a certain theme, yet the goal remained the same—to work toward a more peaceful world.  HI-San Diego’s conference took place in April and focused on creating peace by addressing systems of oppression, and in September, HI-DC’s conference encouraged its attendees to fight for human rights.  Each conference featured international cuisine, keynote speeches and panel discussions, as well as other exciting activities!

Similarly, HI-Chicago's two day conference was created with the intent to promote peace by thinking innovatively, pushing traditional boundaries, and participating actively in our communities.  At the conference you will have the opportunity to do all three and more by attending round-table discussions and workshops with diverse local experts and community leaders.

That’s not all! Here are some more great activities at a glance:

  •  cultivate inner peace with a certified yoga instructor
  • visit a local art gallery
  • attend the Peace on Earth Film Festival film and discussion segment
  • enjoy an interactive, multicultural music and dance showcase presented by Old Town School of Folk Music
  • and, of course, networking!

   Workshop topics will include peace through travel, sustainable agriculture, gun violence in Chicago, women's empowerment and peace; art and social justice; Israeli-Palestinian peace; and innovative international connections.

The keynote presentation is by disruptive thinker 
Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein: What Gandhi Said.

Dr. Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University.  For many years, he taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict, and is a sharp critic of American-Israeli relations.  You may know him as the professor who was denied tenure at DePaul for his controversial research, and whose students conducted a sit-in and hunger strike following the university's decision.  

Also, Sunday, October 28, from 2:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m will begin the the mini film festival presented by Peace on Earth Film Festival!


Living for 32 (USA/2010 -- 40 min) - Short Doc.  Director: Kevin Breslin.  Theme: Gun Control and the struggle for survival and understanding.  The inspirational story of Colin Goddard, a survivor of the tragic Virginia Tech campus shooting massacre, April 16, 2007. In Living for 32, Colin shares an intimate account of the terror he and his classmates endured and the courageous journey of renewal and hope he chose to pursue.

PAPIROFLEXIA (USA/ 2007 -- 3 min) – Animation.  2008 POEFF Winner - Best Animation.  Director: Joaquin Baldwin.  Theme: Transforming the world, is a metamorphosis of the self.  Winner of numerous film festival awards, Papiroflexia (Spanish for “Origami”) is the animated tale of Fred, a skillful paper folder who could shape the world with his hands.

Angela's Garden  (USA/2011 -- 16 min) - Short Doc (Student).  Director(s): Chris Bentley, Kristofor Husted & Matthew O’Connor.  Theme: transformation of a neighborhood through gardening (Chicago).  Angela Taylor turns to her community garden on Chicago’s west side to help deal with the loss of her father, fight drug dealing and crime in her neighborhood, and foster a sense of pride on her block.

FRIDAY  (UK/ 2011 -- 17 min) -- Short Narrative.  Director: Sebastian Rice-Edwards.  Theme: Revenge cannot mend a broken heart.  The story of a teenager struggling to come to terms with the death of his mother on the one-year anniversary of the tragic event that took her life.

Faith in Common (US / 2010 -- 29 min) - Short Narrative/Comedy.  2012 POEFF Student Voices for Peace Award (grades 6 - 8) Most Inspiring Story.  Director: Andrew Newell.  Theme: Let the children lead you to compassion, understanding and tolerance.  Agnes Goins she is worried for her son's spiritual well-being because his father, David, isn't much of a believer. This worry comes to the surface when an Iranian Muslim family, the Alizadehs, move in next door. The Goins want nothing to do with their new Muslim neighbors. Mr. Alizadeh responds in kind to his Christian neighbors. Only Matthew and his counterpart in the Alizadeh family, Anisa, seem to find a connection.

Things to know:

  • Once you register, you are registered for all activities for both days.
  • There will be workshops on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, followed by interactive activities.
  • General Admission is $15.00
  • Students, $10.00
  • STUDENTS! You must present valid, current student ID upon arrival

Here is a detailed schedule of events:

Ticket Sales end October 27th—Space is limited!

Secure your ticket today by registering here. See you there!

(For more information or any questions about the conference, contact HI-Chicago Community Liaison 
Sharday El-Assar at or 312-583-2227.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Last Daley Plaza Farmers Market of the Season! Thursday, Oct 18

The LAST Daley Plaza Farmers Market of the season will be taking place tomorrow, October 18th! Conveniently located at the Daley Plaza, it is just a few short steps from the hostel (50 W. Washington. - Corner of Washington and Dearborn). In addition to the large variety of fresh veggies, fruits and flowers, for the first time you will also be able to buy fresh meats! So if you're hungry stop by the market and grab some delicious fresh food, listen to guest speakers and meet some chefs! It's a great way to meet some Chicagoans and support the local economy!
Listed By Day of the Week
Market hours: 7am - 3pm.

Its the first red meats market!
Last market day of the season!
Catch it before it's gone!!!

Downtown Markets

For more details visit:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fun Fact! A single wind turbine can power 500 homes!

As a Green Power Partner of the EPA we are utilizing REC’s, or Renewable Energy Certificates, to offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with purchased electricity.

With over 500 beds and over 80,000 overnights provided to travelers from all around the world the amount of energy consumed is undeniably large. At this scale, the implementation of 100% wind energy credits over the past two years is very significant and exemplifies an active role in how we affect our surroundings.

Fun Fact! Wind energy was used in ancient times (5000 BC), some 7000 years ago, to propel boats in the Nile river. Reed boats were used in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Amazon.


If people could see the benefits of wind energy millennia ago, we must not ignore them now! With wind energy now more efficient than ever, why not use it?

Fun Fact! As of 2010 wind energy was over 2.5% of total worldwide electricity usage, and is now growing at more than 25% per annum. Lets help it grow even further!

We are proud to say that we are part of the EPA Green Power Partnership!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Buy a Bottle and Fill it Up!

Why is it that when thirsty and wanting water, people do not simply drink free tap water, but instead choose to pay unnecessarily much for a plastic bottle which will get thrown out within hours, and to pay for water which can easily be obtained at no cost?

With the HZH20 water fountain currently in the process of installation at our hostel, filling up a bottle with water will soon be more convenient than ever! It is crucial that our guests and staff learn about the many benefits of tap water.

Take a look at this!


Tap water is unhealthy for you. MYTH! In contrast, most sources state that in the U.S. tap water is actually in many aspects healthier than bottled water because tap water is more closely controlled and tested than tap water. 

Bottled water always comes from natural sources such as natural springs in the mountains. MYTH! Many companies that sell bottled water are in fact selling you tap water! Which you can easily get for free! The concept of bottled water is not too far from the idea of capturing air off of the streets in bottles and selling it to people. Would you pay for air when you can easily breathe it at no cost at all?

In addition, the production of bottles is a huge waste of resources and creates literally TONS of WASTE!

So purchase a reusable bottle once, and fill it up as many times as you like!
Save your self some money, and save the environment in the process!
To make it even easier for our guests and staff, we expect to soon have bottles available.

And if you manage to find a reason to refuse to drink tap water, than please remember to at least RECYCLE!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Green Events taking place this Weekend! 09/28 - 09/29

Here are some fun Green events that you can take part in this last weekend of September! Don't Miss Out!!!

Ride a bike with hundreds of other Chicagoans!

Next Ride: 5:30pm Friday, September 28
Chicago Critical Mass bike rides start from Daley Plaza, Dearborn & Washington at 5:30 pm on the last Friday of each month, regardless of season or weather. They are free and fun. All you have to do is show up with your bike. Visit the website for more details!

Saturday, September 29, 2012.  9am to 3pm
An annual event presented by the Evanston Environmental Association (EEA) and the City of Evanston.The festival is held at the Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd, Evanston, and is designed to provide a venue where organizations can present green products, services and ideas to help attendees lower their carbon footprint. The festival features many attractions including the Green Market, a sustainably house built by students, alternative transportation demos, and an auction! Visit this site for more details!

Here is a link to a video about the festival from a previous year. Check it out!

Go to the Green City Market!

Please join us for our Market on Wednesday and Saturday!  

7am-1pm in the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton DriveChef Demonstrations:Wednesday, September 26th, Patrick Sheerin, TrenchermenSaturday, September 29th, Daven Wardynski, 676 Restaurant at the Omni

Or learn how to grow your own organic garden at this wonderful event!

UHCi 102: Intro to Organic Farming Workshops

Saturday, September 29, 2012 · 9:30 AM
For more details visit:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sustainability Efforts - Help us stay Green!

Although the temperatures in Chicago may quickly be dropping our sustainability efforts certainly are not. HI-Chicago is running in full gear when it comes to making this an eco-friendly hostel.  Our goals are to “be ecological, be economical, and to be social” as established in the 2010 HI Sustainability Charter. Thus, we are making a conscious effort to implement strategies that will aid in the preservation of our natural environment not only in a cost effective manner but also in one that will allow for community participation. Autumn is now officially here and leaves will soon change into many beautiful vibrant colors. The change in season however, is no reason for us to become any less eco-friendly! We need YOUR help to continue becoming increasingly GREEN!

We will now be posting blogs regularly regarding our sustainability efforts. To start of, this week you can find an overview of what we have accomplished thus far. Our sustainability strategies include an effort to:

  • Reduce Solid Waste
    • Reduce consumption - Paper usage reduced
    • Reuse - Re-usable products available in the kitchen and for breakfast
    • Recycle - We recycle aluminum, glass, paper, plastic and cardboard
  • Conserve Water
    • Low flow faucets/aerators and low flow shower heads have been installed
    • Repair all leaks and drips immediately
  • Conserve Energy
    • A variety of energy efficient appliances are used
    • Energy efficient lighting has been installed
      • CFL Lightbulbs
      • LED lights
      • Light sensors
  • Use Environmentally Friendly Products/Habits
    • All purpose, non toxic household cleaning products are used
    • Eco-friendly maintenance products are used such as Low VOC paint
    • Use paper products made from post-consumer recycled paper
  • Reach out to the Community
    • Provide hostellers with information regarding the local environment and environmentally friendly activities around the city

Our next project includes the installation of the EZH2O water fountain which will allow guests to easily refill reusable water bottles instead of purchasing bottled water. This is being done in an effort to encourage our guests and staff to use reusable water bottles, thereby aiding them in saving money, and reducing the production of additional unnecessary waste. This effort will hopefully be accompanied by the availability of new reusable water bottles for our guests! Please let us know if you would use a plastic water bottle or an aluminum canteen water bottle! Would $5 be a price that you would be willing to pay considering that you would receive your money’s worth back after filling it only 5 times (a bottle of water costs about $1).

Although the progress made is already very significant, there remains much room for improvement! As we develop sustainability programs and train staff on how to assist in the sustainability efforts by doing their part, we ask that you do YOUR part as well!

In particular, we are curious regarding recycling efforts! Do you recycle regularly? Did you continue these habits while staying at the hostel? Let us know why or why not!

Please provide us with feedback on what we have accomplished thus far! We are excited to hear about any ideas that you may have on additional sustainability strategies that we can implement.

Go to for current updates on sustainability efforts made by Hostelling International.

For more specific updates on HI-Chicago check this blog every Monday! Or go to

Friday, June 8, 2012

Traveler Spotlight

I had the pleasure of meeting Hirotaka at the information desk this morning while he was seeking advice on where to eat the best BBQ in Chicago. In my opinion, trying new food is half the fun of traveling, and judging by the conversation we had, I think Hirotaka feels the same way.

Originally from Tokyo, Japan, he spent this past school year as an exchange student in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. After school ended, he decided to spend about two months travelling throughout the United States by Amtrak. Before Chicago, he visited New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, New Orleans, and many more places. That‘s a lot to see in two months!

When asked about Chicago, Hirotaka only had wonderful things to say. He said that he loves the architecture and the vibrant atmosphere of the city. But more than anything, he has really enjoyed the food! His favorite experience so far was eating deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s. According to him, it was the most delicious pizza he has ever eaten! He also had great things to say about the hostel. He has met some great people and had a great time at our “Boom Boom Blues” night.

Good luck with the rest or your travels Hirotaka and I hope you loved the BBQ!

written by intern Maggie Flynn

Resource links:
Chicago Architecture Foundation: CAF offers in-depth architecture tours & hostel guests receive $3 off walking tours.
Lou Malnati’s Pizza: