Exhibit gets shoppers to think about their habits

March 9, 2012 3:39:57 PM PST
The Chicago Architecture Foundation is hoping that putting a dollar value on everyday items, taking into account the way you use them, might make you think twice about your shopping habits. In other words, the thought of a $300 hair dryer might help persuade you to 'live green.'

At first glance you might think there is a new convenience store taking residence on Michigan Avenue. But on closer inspection, you'll see it's actually a creative exhibit called the "Loop Value: How Much Does It Cost? Shop."

"Whether you're picking up an orange from Walmart or buying a toilet or buying a cup of coffee from Starbucks, really looking at what's the cost of that product beyond what is actually in your glass," said Lynn Osmond, president, Chicago Architecture Foundation. "How much did it cost to get it there? How much water did it use? What are the sustainable practices behind it?"

The shop is divided into departments ranging from plumbing to pets. The goal is to get shoppers to think twice about their decisions -- like whether it's worth it to buy bottled water.

"When you buy bottled water sometimes you're paying 2000 times the price of tap water," said Osmond.

Or should you frequently upgrade your cell phone.

"Every year about 130 million cell phones are now tossed away," said Gregory Dreicer, vice president, Chicago Architecture Foundation. "That's an enormous amount of trash and often toxic trash ... It's a great deal you're getting a free phone, but is the phone really free?"

And the list goes on.

The exhibit also examines the cost of buying new shoes versus repairing old ones, consuming processed food versus growing your own gardening and buying LED versus incandescent light bulbs. There is no shortage of opportunities to find bargains.

"I hope that people look at it and get a fresh perspective on what their lifestyle is and what we can do to actually promote a more sustainable planet through the choices that we make every day," said Osmond.

The "Loop Value: How Much Does It Cost? Shop" is open daily from 9:30am to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more details, visit www.architecture.org