Eco-friendly one-stop online shopping

October 22, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Whether you're shopping for organic snacks or all-natural furniture polish, sometimes the hunt requires more time and energy than you have to give. Now you can find those and many other green products all in one local spot -- Abe's Market.

That includes items from Bean Products on the city's West Side where seamstresses are hard at work creating a variety of eco-lifestyle items. Massage pillows and bean bag chairs are among their most popular items. Most of the covers are made from hemp or organic cotton.

"We use hemp fabrics which is very environmentally-friendly in the sense that it doesn't require pesticide use and it grows really fast," said Chuck Blumenthal, Bean Products Inc. "Regular cotton uses enormous amounts of pesticides to grow and also to finish."

The products are stuffed with a mix of scrap latex foam and polyfiber that was once plastic bottles.

"A typical pillow or a pound of polyfiber saves ten two-liter soda bottles from the landfill," said Blumenthal.

They also use buckwheat hulls. "It's natural and can be cleaned easy, just strain it with screens and so forth and it makes a real lightweight stuffing for pillows," said Blumenthal.

Bean Products has been in business for nearly 20 years, but has never had a retail store. They have moved from catalog sales to online e-tailers. You can now get products ranging from their meditation mats to their hemp shower curtains on the Chicago-based website,

"Abe's Market is a destination for natural and organic products. We've seen a lot of demand from people who are looking for products they can be comfortable with, something they can believe in, understand the ingredients, make sure those ingredients are all-natural and organic," said Richard Demb.

Abe's Market cofoundDemb said his goal is to give eco-conscious entrepreneurs a platform for consumers to get to know them -- while offering thoughtful shoppers more planet-friendly options.

"We've put a lot of companies in one place. That's the idea behind Abe's Market," said Demb. Abe's Market features more than 150 small businesses -- several of them are based in Chicago.

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