A Greener Field

Edible Treasures Garden, Summer 2015

Illustration by Emily Woodworth

The Field Museum’s Green Team

A Greener Field (the Museum’s “green team”) began as a grassroots recycling effort in 1989, and now has over 40 members representing every area of the Museum.  Staff members who share the Museum’s commitment to improving sustainability attend monthly meetings which provide an outlet for them to share successes and challenges in terms of greening their departments, as well as a vehicle to initiate and help implement institution-wide programs.  From bike sharing programs to recycling and composting endeavors, A Greener Field helps integrate the ethos of environmentalism, conservation and sustainability into the Museum's operations.  You can learn more about one of the Green Team's most prolific projects, a staff-maintained community garden, at the Edible Treasures Garden page.

RU Sustainability Studies Major Laura Miller Hill describes the Field’s sustainability efforts in her October 8, 2015 blog: Greening the Field Museum: SUST Major Laura Miller Hill Reports on Her Summer Sustainability Internship.

A November 20, 2015 blog piece from the Delta Institute, Testing Waste Diversion Design Strategies at The Field Museum, describes the scientific approach the Museum is taking as it continues to look for opportunities to expand its composting operations.


Restaurants & Special Events: The Field Museum as a Green Venue

In 2013, The Field Museum introduced two new restaurants, the Field Bistro and the Explorer Cafe, managed by Aramark Parks & Destinations.  In preparation, the Museum worked closely with Greg Christian and Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners for several years to craft a sustainable food operator program, designed to help the restaurants put the Museum's mission of conservation into practice within its walls and to educate the public while doing so.

Focusing on fresh, locally and sustainably sourced food for the public as well as waste and energy reduction, the restaurants put the sustainability mantra of "what gets measured gets done" into action, weighing all waste leaving the restaurants and employing back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house recycling and composting.  The restaurants are externally audited every quarter, and they are on (or well above) target for over 50 separate goals that get deep into the supply chain and day-to-day operations, with increasing sliding-scale metrics over a 10-year time span.

After their first full year of operation, the Museum restaurants achieved the following:

  • 18% of all food purchases met one or more sustainable standards (USDA organic, Fair Trade, sustainable seafood, etc)
  • 5% of all food purchases are locally sourced
  • 44% of the menu is vegetarian friendly
  • 74% waste diversion rate - we're serious! 

See menus and learn more by visiting the Restaurants webpage.

Additionally, in 2015 the Museum received LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance.  The Museum is not just a beautiful and unique location to hold a special event; revenue from events supports conservation and educational activities both here in the building as well as across the Chicago region and all seven continents.