“What is the point of going to all the trouble of creating natural and organic foods and products if we harm the environment to bring them to market?”

Ask Yourself if Those Healthy Products Are Good for You After All

As an add-on to your “Have a Green Day” article [by Mick Dumke, April 17]:

Consumers should look at packaging and how it is manufactured. For example, SBS [solid bleached sulfate] paperboard (the carton with the white back) compared to recycled paperboard (the carton with the brown/gray back). If [just medicine and cosmetics] manufacturers switched from SBS to [35 percent] recycled paperboard it would result in the following (according to environmentaldefense.org) based on 375,000 tons manufactured annually:

156,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided (equivalent to 27,000 cars driven 200 miles a week).

Wastewater would be reduced by 2.6 billion gallons (equivalent to wastewater from 27,000 households).

510,000 fewer tons of trees would be used (equivalent to the number of trees required to make copy paper used by 11 million people).

106,000 tons of solid waste would be avoided (equivalent to trash generated by 49,000 households).

As I shop at my local Whole Foods in River Forest, I notice “all natural” and “organic” products are sold in SBS packaging. Actually quite a few brands. What is the point of going to all the trouble of creating natural and organic foods and products if we harm the environment to bring them to market? How much greater of an impact can these companies make on the environment if they just changed their paperboard packaging type? How much greater of an impact can the consumer make by contacting each of these companies and telling them to change or by not buying their product? How much greater of an impact can the retailer make by requiring their suppliers to change the packaging or they won’t carry it in their stores?

In addition to paperboard packaging, note that corn-based plastic is made from genetically modified corn and it is not determined safe to recycle. Also, those Tetra Pak containers? Do you see a recycling symbol on them?

Mike O’Keefe

Oak Park

Why Won’t the CPS Invest in the City’s High School Athletes?

Re “A City Off Track” by Ben Joravsky, The Works, April 17

First of all I applaud the efforts of [Conrad] Worrill and [Elzie] Higginbottom.

I am a Lane Tech High School graduate of 1988 where I ran track and cross country so I’m speaking with the background of having personally been on a track team for a Chicago Public League school.

As we all know the dilemma is that the Friends of Track is a monumental yet worthwhile cause. It is a complex issue. Here are just some of the things to consider.

There are about 80 Chicago public high schools, yet there are 0 indoor track facilities and only a handful of real tracks (the new Lane Stadium track, the relatively new track at Winnemac Park, Hanson Stadium, and a few at school sites). In other words, about 5-10 tracks for 80 schools, do we see a problem here?

One of the reasons why it is like that is when they designed the schools in the first place. When they built Lakeview High School, for example, they had no idea that sports like lacrosse, badminton, boys volleyball, cheerleading, etc would be sports. So they designed the schools without those sports in mind. By contrast when they built a new suburban school like Neuqua Valley in Naperville, they designed it with all of those sports in mind.

So the current CPS administration has the unenviable task of trying to sponsor more sports programs in schools that were never designed to hold those sports. So there is a lot of refixing that needs to be done.

The CPS is doing a great job closing old, worn-down, low-performance schools, but the problem is the schools that are replacing them, like the new Westinghouse school set to open around 2009 or the new UIC College Prep school, will not have an indoor or good outdoor track. That is crazy. The CPS has an opportunity to make new facilities for these schools, yet they continue to make new schools without tracks or other facilities that are basic in the suburbs.

I support the efforts of the Friends of Track and Field and hopefully, their efforts will lead to change. Even if it is small steps.

Neil Hernandez

The Reactable Within Reach

I’m Sergi Jordà, from the Reactable team in Barcelona.

I would like really to congratulate Miles Raymer. There are many articles on new controllers / new ways of making music / the Reactable / etc, but I think that this one [“New Ways to Play,” Sharp Darts, April 17] is one of the clearest, simplest, and at the same time deepest articles I’ve recently read on this topic.

It’s clear to me, that he knows what he’s talking about, and that he’s not just following the trendy buzz. Congratulations!

And BTW, there will be a permanent Reactable at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, starting May 15.

Sergi Jordà

Music Technology Group

Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona

The Formula for the Three Arts Club Budget

Since you have folks writing in [online comments] naming me as “Crazy,” with regard to my notions about the Three Arts Club [“Mission Diminished” by Deanna Isaacs, The Business, March 20], please print my letter, either as proof that I am or whatever.

The first point is that the Three Arts Club Board was never offered a single dime by the City of Chicago Department of Housing for its $24 million construction project (though some days they did say $32 million). I found this out when I called the Department of Housing to inquire about possible funding when the Friends of the Three Arts Club was placing a purchase offer on the building. The Three Arts Board did not even approach the department about funding until very late in the game, and then were told that their financial numbers and project overall was unworkable. I know the board told the press and public that it was offered all this funding, but it was never true.

As to fund-raising, the financial statements filed with the nonprofit tax forms look as if the board managed to raise about $1 million from donors. The board and Esther Grimm told potential donors that the money would be used to “continue the club’s mission for another hundred years.” This made it sound as if the women in the arts were still living in the club or that they would be back soon. In fact the women had all been kicked out, never to return, and the board planned to spend mega-millions building expensive apartments and some sort of half-baked “arts center” involving everything from a music school to an underground theater.

I came up with the estimate of $3 million needed to do repairs and get the place back up and running? The repairs were estimated from a plan prepared a while back by Holabird and updated for inflation. Our group also had an architect tour the building before it closed. We were also aware of what did and did not need repairs, because many of us lived there. Also, when the Friends group was putting in its purchase offer, I called the company handling the sale to ask about needed repairs.

Then, I added some money in for furniture, furnishings, and a beginning operating budget. I came up with $3 million. Sure, $5 million would be nice, but $3 million could get it up and running again as an international home for women in the arts.

Sue Basko