Creating a Sustainable World: How One Evanstonian Makes a Difference at Home & Work

Written by Greenwise Team
Published on August 16, 2019

Two Pressing Issues of Our Times: Climate Change and Income Inequality & Job Creation

Aina Gutierrez is the executive director of Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse and a Greenwise client since 2012. Her entire career has been in the nonprofits and she wouldn’t have it any other way. If you haven’t heard about Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse, it’s a special place that cares about our environment by reusing materials, thereby reducing waste in our landfills. And, as importantly, through proceeds and donations, it supports an education, job training, and job-development program to help employ individuals who face multiple barriers to employment. “I feel like there are two pressing issues of our time: climate change (thank god that’s part of our national conversation now) and income inequality & job creation. What kind of sustainable world do we live in? The environment and employment are dual missions in creating a sustainable world and I feel fortunate to work in an organization where those two missions overlap,” says Aina.

Creating a Safe Home for Our Kids and Pets

Aina’s family moved to Evanston eight years ago, and at the time they were a family of three adults, three children aged five and younger, three dogs, and two cats. They bought their first house and so for the first time had a yard to care for. Like many of us, they view their yard as an extension of their living space. “Everything had to be incredibly safe for our pets and kids. We searched for an organic landscaper and found Greenwise. We then asked our new neighbors and quite a few of them were happy Greenwise customers, so that reinforced our decision to go with Greenwise. “I felt like I had to protect my kids’ growing immune systems and overall health. I wanted them to be able to blow bubbles, swing on the swing set, and run through the sprinkler. I wasn’t going to put any chemicals on my lawn that would prevent them from living in our yard like that,” says Aina.

Supporting Local Business

Aina and her husband also actively look for local businesses to support. “When I called Greenwise, Marc, the owner, came to my house, talked to me about my yard, and gave me an estimate. It’s really important that the owner would come out to meet with me one on one like that. I was impressed and we’ve remained loyal customers ever since. “My husband still likes to take care of the mowing. But, we use Greenwise for fertilization, weeding, pruning, and mulching. We experimented with using Greenwise eight years ago and it works. We have one of the nicest lawns in the neighborhood,” exclaims Aina.

Partnering to Save and Repurpose Plants

This summer, Greenwise and Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse partnered to host a free plant giveaway in Evanston. Our goal was to save and repurpose plants at a home that Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse was deconstructing. Aina was concerned that when they deconstruct homes, the plant material gets destroyed. So, together, we developed a plan to host plant giveaways where community members could come to the home being deconstructed and take whatever plants they wanted. Greenwise was responsible for hauling away any leftover plants. We hope to team up for several of these projects throughout the year and will keep you posted about our next plant giveaway. If you’d like to be on the mailing list for these giveaways, send us an email.

What’s Deconstruction Exactly?

Deconstruction is the selective dismantlement of building components, specifically for reuse, repurposing, recycling, and waste management. Did you know 534 million tons of construction and demolition debris were generated in the United States in 2014 (EPA)? According to the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse’s website, when heavy equipment is used to smash building materials, harmful particulate matter is released into the surrounding environment in the form of lead dust, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, and carbon monoxide. In contrast, deconstruction reduces the need for extracting raw materials for new construction, conserves the energy and natural resources used in manufacturing new building materials, prevents environmental pollution by diverting waste, and increases the longevity of landfills. Plus, deconstruction creates jobs. This is specialized work and requires more hands to dismantle a building than to swing a wrecking ball. And property owners benefit because everything removed from the house and donated to Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse can be claimed on their taxes as a donation at fair market value. If you are thinking about deconstructing your home or looking for items for your home, ranging from door knobs to front doors to kitchen stoves, don’t forget about Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse. It’s a great place to wander and you never know what gem you’ll unearth.