We know that you care about leaving places better than you found them, that's why you're here! The Kalamazoo community is pretty passionate about being leaders in sustainability.
At Discover Kalamazoo, we care about eco-friendly travel and we want to make sustainable tourism a no-brainer for visitors coming from out of town to enjoy our community.
If you’ve helped lead the charge - woo hoo! If you're just starting out on your sustainable journey, here are just a few tips and super easy suggestions that you can implement today to make sure your time spent in Kalamazoo is a bit gentler on the environment.
Tip 1: Bike Around
Bike for transportation
Both the Kal-Haven Trail and the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail make up almost 60 miles of the Great Lake-to-Lake Trails Route #1 in the Western Region, both of which run directly through Kalamazoo. The trail is ultimately then connected by a signed-route throughout downtown Kalamazoo. Need a bike to get around? PEDAL has you covered with rental bikes from their downtown location including town and mountain bikes for a daily or weekly fee.
You can also rent bikes from the new BikePortage bike share program. Bikes are rented for $1 per 30 minute increments ($20 per day maximum), or rent e-bikes from Gull Lake Marine in Richland. The e-bikes can be used with low power or no power.
Tip 2: Ditch the Paper, Go Digital
We know your phone is basically attached to you at all times. Save the trees and save yourself from extra clutter by utilizing our digital resources for helping you plan your trip.
Utilize our blog and social media channels
Download a copy of our digital publications and guides
You can also access digital copies of all of our official guides here.
Sign up for your free Give a Craft Beer Trail digital passport
Our popular Give a Craft® Beer Passport is back (and expanded!) with 16 breweries in the 269 area code, and check in a digital passport, making signing up easier than ever before! (Don’t worry– no app is required.) Go here to sign up right away!
Tip 3: Shop Sustainably
When you choose to enjoy local food and merchandise, they have fewer miles to travel to get to you, making them a much more sustainable and eco-conscious decision. Not only that, Kalamazoo is home to some fantastic small businesses that are leading the charge when it comes to walking the walk and talking the talk on living a responsible and sustainable lifestyle.
First things first: Have a reusable tote on hand.
Avoid the use of plastic bags by bringing along a reusable tote! This is one of the most straightforward check indecisions check that you can commit to daily that can make a huge impact. If you don't already have a reusable tote, we included some that we're loving right now and linked below.
Featured totes from:
Sustainability, being Earth-friendly, and leaving things better than how you found them are the heart and soul of Bee Joyful, Michigan’s first Zero Waste shop.
That last quote is written in big bold and cursive letters by the front door. Bee Joyful is located in the Kalamazoo Mall and features plastic-free alternatives and eco-friendly products like beeswax wraps, wool dryer balls, wooden baby rattles, metal bento lunch boxes, laundry detergent, and so much more!
So often, living an eco-conscious lifestyle is portrayed in the media as having the means and privilege to afford expensive alternatives to plastic. Still, store owner Jessica Thompson has created an environment that is quite the opposite. As someone who was a single mom to five kids for twelve years, her story is a humbling one.
She is kind, relatable, helpful, and passionate. Ask her about how Bee Joyful came to be, and you'll quickly learn that she's just like you, except that her love for sustainable living and witty humor has made her and her little shop TikTok famous!
Damn Handsome Grooming Co
Damn Handsome Grooming Co creates all natural hop infused skin care for men. Since 2013, they've been partnering with craft breweries to re-purpose brewed ingredients into sustainable men’s goods.
All of their products are produced by hand right here in Kalamazoo. While their goal is to leave a small impact on the environment, Damn Handsome is kind of a big deal. Their products have been featured in Forbes, Urban Outfitters, Martha Stewart, The New York Times - just to name a few.
Consider thrift and vintage stores
Let's be real, the only true sustainable way to shop is to not shop at all! That's why shopping for thrift finds is not only more affordable, but significantly more sustainable. Second-hand items don't require more resources to produce- they're already made!
Luckily, Kalamazoo is home to a wide variety of thrift, vintage and consignment shops. Great Lakes Thrift, featured above, is the newest thrift shop to hit the market and they're located right downtown on the Kalamazoo Mall. The staples they carry range from graphic tees and scrunchies to cozy oversized crewnecks and cut-offs.
Their website boasts, "Nothing beats a soft vintage tee and high-waisted mom jeans. A combination made in hipster heaven. We have both. The end".
Another fun shop for used goods is Satellite Records, Kalamazoo's source for vinyl!
A paradise for casual collectors and crate diggers alike, they specialize in new and used LPs, 45s, 12”s and cassettes. Most any local will tell you that Satellite Records is a treasure trove and hidden gem of Kalamazoo.
Hit Up Local Farmers Markets
Did you know that food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate?! Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.
Many of the Kalamazoo Farmers Market growers have additional certifications that help them get into new markets, assure environmental protection, and provide customers with more information on their practices. You can enjoy the Kalamazoo Farmers Market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Want to receive a discount at the market? Get there by bike! The Kalamazoo Farmers Market participates in the Bike Benefit program, a national incentive program that allows participating small businesses to give discounts to customers that run their errands by bike. If you purchase a $5 bike benefits sticker at the market, they'll give you a $2 token each time you bike to the market.
Tip 4: Drink Sustainably
If you’re more of a beer or spirits connoisseur, Kalamazoo is home to many breweries and distilleries that practice sustainability in their brewing methods and serving in their tasting rooms.
At Bell’s Brewery, their Bio-Energy building processes more than 100,000 gallons of wastewater daily converting pollutants into renewable energy for use at the brewery, among many other efforts.
Remember Damn Handsome? The innovative makers of mens goods that we mentioned earlier? They also partnered with Green Door Distilling Co this past spring to help the local distillery shift their focus to produce emergency supplies of hand sanitizer to the community.
Green Door Distilling company is a self-proclaimed “grain to glass distillery”, also a recipient of the “Michigan Vodka Distillery of the Year Award” by the New York Spirits Competition.
When Green Door opened in 2014, it was Kalamazoo’s first distillery in nearly 200 years. . This summer they've been experimenting with the art of dehydrating some of their cocktail garnishes to cut down on their waste.
Tip 5: Volunteer
Technically, you don't actually need to take part in a formal project in order to do your part to protect the environment! Some informal examples would be picking up after your dog or picking up and properly disposing of trash that you might encounter on our popular walking and biking trails.
Speaking of trails, make sure not to invent your own. Trail erosion is a serious problem, and it gets worse each time someone wanders off established trails to forge their own path through the forest.
As for the formal projects, the Kalamazoo Nature Center has a great Citizen Science program, a collaboration between professional scientists and any member of the general public who is interested in protecting our environment.
Citizen science is not defined by age, gender, racial identity, citizenship status, education, or physical ability, and anyone who wants to become a citizen science volunteer can do so! Some of the volunteer opportunities include butterfly monitoring, river sampling, data collection for invasive species, tracking the cycle of fruits and nuts produced by Michigan trees and shrubs and much more.