SustainAbility: Marquette, Mich.

I recently traveled to Marquette, Mich., to visit my daughter and son-in-law. During the course of our regular outings, I stumbled across some noteworthy sustainable efforts in the Great White North.

Marquette is a community of a little more than 20,000 people tucked away on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the shores of Lake Superior. Home to Northern Michigan University, the area is traditionally known as a shipping port for the region’s iron ore and taconite deposits.

My first night in town found us in a tiny, two-story house converted into a community nano-brewery to hear some live music. Blackrocks Brewery crafts batches of liquid refreshment in quantities so small the owners don’t even classify their enterprise as a microbrewery.

My daughter explained that the unusual-looking tables were constructed from repurposed bicycle parts. Bike Furniture Design has designed and produced handcrafted contemporary furniture from recycled and reused bicycles since 1990.

Primarily using recycled steel and aluminum bike rims, handlebars and frames, Andy Gregg fashions comfortable and durable chairs, bar stools, love seats and tables. He occasionally incorporates train or car windows or seatbelt webbing into the furniture.

When you send certain bike parts for recycling, Gregg will give you a discount on his products. Several bike shops on Colorado’s Front Range exhibit samples of Gregg’s work. To learn and see amazing examples of the furniture, go to http://www.bikefurniture.com/.

Several times we shopped at the Marquette Food Co-op, the place to go for natural and local food products. The emphasis is on local, and all of the departments in the store feature items from Upper Peninsula sources. Signage displays photos of local farmers and ranchers on the land where they grew and raised the products for sale.

Chilly winter temperatures sent us on a quest for inexpensive snow pants before embarking on a sled dog tour. The mission was accomplished at the local Goodwill store where I also noticed Possibility Paper, a line of locally crafted paper products made from recycled paper.

Apparently, this project is unique to Goodwill stores in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula, but you can call Tammy Francour at 906-639-3508 to place orders including handmade Christmas cards.

On the half-day sled dog tour, about 60 miles northwest of Marquette, I was able to soak in the natural beauty of the area.

The unusual form of transportation brought me close to forests quite different from those in Colorado, allowing me to experience yet another facet of America’s great outdoors.

What fun it is to find such gems of sustainability without even trying.

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Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? E-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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