According to Stephen Morales, Oak Park's Environment and Energy Commission chair, the Plastic Free July Program went very well. The campaign received attention in the community and boosted awareness about the importance of eliminating single use plastics throughout the village of Oak Park and beyond.
"In general, we feel that the Plastic Free July program shows that the village wants to do more for our environment," said Morales via email. "Going forward, we would like to expand on the success of Plastic Free July through other community and village-level activities."
In the end, Oak Park and Forest Park combined had about a dozen restaurants officially participating in the program throughout July, but the League of Women Voters identified several more restaurants that were simply trying to be more plastic free.
"We were happy to see many local restaurants are eager to do as much as possible to go green in their restaurants," said Beverly Graham, president of the League of Women Voters of Oak Park-River Forest. "We hope their considerable efforts will inspire others to follow suit."
As part of the Plastic Free July campaign the League's Environment Committee contacted local restaurants asking them about their use of disposable plastics. Over the course of July the committee continued their effort and expanded the "best of the best list" to include five new restaurants and three honorable mentions. The committee is working to create window decal to honor the restaurants listed.
The committee was particularly pleased with the environmentally friendly practices at Small Batch Barbecue in Forest Park. The food-scene newcomer opened on Madison Street on July 6. The barbecue joint is designed to avoid food waste food waste by controlling quantities and also limits the use of single use plastics throughout their operation.
Graham also shared that Spilt Milk staff members were quick to praise their eco-conscious customers for bringing their own bags and containers to transport their bakery purchases.
"Little things like that make a big difference to our local restaurants," says Graham, "and I feel like this effort is really taking off in our community."
Plastic Free July's Best
Beverly Graham, president of the League of Women Voters of Oak Park-River Forest, says the restaurants included on this list have already taken strides to eliminate single-use plastics in their establishment and have embraced environmentally friendly practices from the front to the back of the house.
Honorable mentions are making considerable efforts to green their businesses and have concrete plans implemented.