Take Action To Support A Litter Free Chicago-Calumet River System
Litter is a world-wide problem which is not just an eyesore, it hurts people and wildlife, and the Chicago area is no exception. Friends and our partners on the Litter Free Taskforce are working to create resources, share information and promote events, behaviors, and policies which contribute toward a Litter Free Chicago-Calumet River system. Learn more about the Litter Free Chicago-Calumet River system program here.
Such a huge problem requires partnerships, dedication, and each one of us doing our part to reduce waste and litter. Here are some ways you can be a part of the solution.
Volunteer to help us #LoseTheLitter:
- Join Friends’ volunteer CREW to let us know your interests and receive our monthly email with the latest information on upcoming volunteer opportunities.
- Sign up for Chicago River Day. Every year Friends hosts a cleanup with over 70 locations throughout the watershed. Bring your friends and family to this beloved annual event and get to know other Chicagoans like you who are making and impact.
- Utilize the Litter Free Toolkit (or a similar toolkit in Spanish from American Rivers) to plan your own litter clean up. Scout groups, churches, and schools have all planned litter clean ups for their groups with our assistance.
- Borrow cleanup supplies from our new Litter Free Supply Stations. Go to our supply station page and follow the instructions to find a station near you and reserve garbage bags and grabbers to lead your very own cleanup.
- Help us track our collective impact by sharing your feedback on reducing litter in our Litter Free Survey and adding your cleanup experiences to our Litter Free Map.
- Join us for one of our Canoes and Cleans held throughout the watershed, check the events page for upcoming dates. This is a great way to explore different parts of the river, immerse yourself in its beauty, and make an immediate impact on the health of the river.
- Hire Friends to organize a Litter Free volunteer day for your company. Volunteering is a great way to demonstrate your company values, build teamwork and foster people’s connection to the river.
- Educators can become an Adopt-A-River School by joining our Chicago River Schools Network.
- Clean up litter with our partner organizations:
- Use the City of Chicago's 311 app or website to report a littered area, request more trash bins, or request pick up of overflowing trash bins.
- Check out #LosetheLitter, #LitterFreeChicagoCalumetRiver, and #chicagoriver; hashtags on social media to see Friends and partners in action, working to make the river and its river-edge communities litter free. Use these hashtags when posting about your efforts toward a Litter Free Lifestyle.
Time to adopt a litter free lifestyle!
Since litter is a human-made problem, it requires a human-made solution. While Friends works through partnerships to change policy on issues like single-use plastics, we also recognize the need for each of us to individually do what we can to attack this stubborn problem. Based on our research of local litter data and embracing best practices from litter free campaigns across the world, here are the most important ways you can help make a Litter Free Chicago-Calumet River:
- Be aware of your purchasing power.
- Food packaging is one of the top five things found in many litter cleanups, and we can reduce this litter by not buying individually packaged goods.
- Buy products in bulk and use reusable containers to portion food. This will likely save you money and send a message to producers you will not buy single serving packaged goods.
- Stop buying single-use plastics; many of individual water bottles, silverware, straws and cups end up in our river and lake. Creating plastic also uses an enormous amount of energy which is contributing to climate change.
- Get in the habit of bringing your own reuseable grocery bags, water bottles and coffee cups with you. Many coffee shops offer a discount if you bring your own cup.
- Follow the recycling guidelines for the Blue Bins in Chicago and up your recycling! Though recycling has increased, a majority of plastics still are not recycled.
- Place your recycling can next to your garbage can at home, work or school with simple signage to encourage and educate people about recycling.
- Close garbage can lids to keep critters and wind from spilling waste into the street, which is then only a breeze or a rainstorm away from being in the river. .
Support Policy Actions
- Call your legislative representatives and voice your support for policies that reduce plastic waste and improve water, environmental, and public health.