Litter Free

Litter is a world-wide problem which is not just an eyesore, it hurts people and wildlife, and the Chicago area is no exception. Litter Free Chicago-Calumet River is a programs and policy working to reduce the amount of trash harming our rivers and waterways. Through this initiative, Friends hosts regular land and water cleanups like Chicago River Day, partners with organizations collecting data, engages companies to support trash reduction and advocates for policies to reduce single-use plastics and litter at the source.

Such a huge persistant 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.   

Get Involved in #LitterFree

Lose the Litter at Home

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:

  • Stop litter before it starts! Chicago Envrionmentalists offers a tremendous amount of information on sustainable shops, resturants, reuse, recycling, and much more. 
  • Harness your purchasing power.
    • Avoid buying individually packaged goods.
    • Buy products in bulk and use reusable containers to portion food. This saves money and sends a message to producers you will not buy single serving packaged goods.
    • Reduce your use of single-use plastics like individual water bottles, silverware, straws and cups. Plastic creation also uses an enormous amount of energy which is contributing to climate change.
  • Bring reuseable grocery bags with you to the store, use reuseable bags for gifts and promortional materials.
  • Avoid buying things in plastic! Watch the documentary “Plastic Wars,” from PBS, FRONTLINE and NPR, which reveals how plastic makers publicly promote recycling, despite privately expressing doubts that plastic recycling would ever be viable.
  • Purchase more items in paper, metals and glass which is recycleable. Follow the recycling guidelines for the Blue Bins in Chicago! 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 only a breeze or a rainstorm away from being in the river. .

Support Policy Actions 

  • Voice your support for policies that reduce plastic waste and improve water, environmental, and public health.