Let's get rid of the trash from the Chicago River! Its days as a sewage and shipping canal are long gone. Now it's viewed as a precious natural resource shared by businesses, kayakers and anglers, and wildlife, but still needs our help. Together through our Litter Free Chicago toolkit, get inspired to start your own cleanups in your area. Find out here how to be a Friend of the River with us.
- Joanne So Young Dill, Friends of the Chicago River
Friends of the Chicago River is determined to get rid of trash. With your help. For forty years Friends has been raising awareness that the Chicago River is a precious natural resource that needs to be protected. Litter and sewage remain an issue and together we can change this. The "Litter Free Chicago River" campaign is an on-the-ground public awareness campa...
Friends of the Chicago River is determined to get rid of trash. With your help. For forty years Friends has been raising awareness that the Chicago River is a precious natural resource that needs to be protected. Litter and sewage remain an issue and together we can change this. The "Litter Free Chicago River" campaign is an on-the-ground public awareness campaign where we lead cleanups and share our Litter Free Chicago River Toolkit so that anyone can start cleanups on their own with friends, family, community, and workplace. We are here to be a resource to support more people to host their own cleanups and create a multiplier effect. So the next time you see trash in or along the river you'll know you can do something about it!
Litter is not only an eyesore, but it's the most visible sign of pollution. It has serious effects. Litter kills aquatic life, is a public health issue, and is exacerbated when there are combined sewer overflows that discharge sewage right into the river after a rainfall. Increasing development along the Chicago River could add to the problem. Despite legal requirements to protect the river from floatables and meet combined sewer overflow permit requirements, we're still not doing a good job keeping trash and sewage out of the river system.
Through the Chicago Sustainability Challenge, you can access funding to cover the costs of hosting a cleanup in your neighborhood, learn how to get started today
"This was a relatively quick cleanup and we still made a visible impact in our environment and the team really rallied around the cause. The rowers had a great time and we want to do it again, and I think we are totally prepared for another cleanup now that FCR has set us up with the resources and plan to take care of our piece of the Chicago River."
- Molly George, New Trier Rowing & Chicago River Cleanup organizer
How to get involved
You'll need 4-6 hours to organize a cleanup and then you'll need to keep the day of the cleanup free.
Organizing a cleanup in your community is a simple way to contribute to the maintenance of the Chicago River. Here you'll find all the information you need to get started.