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A few ways to give back to Chicago on Earth Day

Readers suggest simple ideas like not buying bottled water to complex ones like reversing the Chicago River

Curbed Chicago Flickr pool/Nitram242

Earth Day is a day that encourages people around the world to stop and think about the impact we’re making on the earth’s environment. And in a city like Chicago, there are many opportunities for individuals to pitch in to make their community a little cleaner and greener. Being the largest metro area located along the Great Lakes, Chicago is dependent on its source of freshwater and the rivers that run through it, but the city also has a very visible role in helping to maintain these important natural resources.

Yesterday, we asked readers for suggestions on easy ways that regular Chicagoans can pitch in for Earth Day. The suggestions ranged from simple tasks like refraining from buying bottled water to picking up trash on the city’s beaches. But there were some other, more complicated ideas floated, such as reversing the Chicago River.

Here’s a quick recap of some ways that we can help pitch in to make our city a cleaner place. And for those looking to get involved in their neighborhood, many community groups, ward offices, and churches organize weekend “Clean and Green” events where neighbors meet up to pick up trash around their block. To find one, it’s best to dig around on Facebook or do a Google search for your neighborhood.

Commenter TG Crewe suggests that the city expand bus rapid transit for residents:

Work on BRT and other transit opportunities for the citizens.

The fact we had an increase of only 1,500 people but 56,000 cars last year is alarming.

WoodinWoman says that the city really needs to start placing more garbage cans in parks and public spaces:

Just, trash cans! You can walk the entire loop around Humboldt Park and not see a single trash can, so people just toss their litter on the ground. Having moved from Minneapolis (city of parks and lakes) I was perplexed by the lack of permanent trash cans and recycling bins in parks. I’ve pocked my trash and thrown away at home before, but a good portion of folks are very inconsiderate. You need to make it easy, or people won’t do it!

On the Facebook thread, Jerry C. offers a simple suggestion:

Fire all politicians.

Bob O. says that trees are a very important asset and the city needs to plant more of them:

Demand from our politicians that we plant more trees. Trees pay for themselves and are the biggest bang for the buck. Over the past five years, Chicago's urban forest has been in severe decline compared to NYC and other more progressive cities. Trees clean the air, provide oxygen, lower power usage, increase property values, prevent flooding and erosion and reduce cardiovascular disease and crime. We also need to pick up litter and fine the losers who litter. Finally, plant more flowers all over.

Michael A. adds that an expanded CTA will help keep cars off the road:

Build more parks. The West Loop/Fulton park area lacks a sizable green space as do many other areas in the city. Expending the CTA train system would remove many vehicles from the roads.

Curbed reader Matthew J58 offers a tip to help cut down on plastic water bottles:

Chicago drinking water is fine – there is no health or sanitary reason to buy drinking water.

But if [one] must, either get one of the many inexpensive home filtering systems or a reusable container for your filtered water. The water dispensers at the Jewel charge all of .40 cents a gallon.

And finally, tk76 offers a suggestion that would require a major effort from all levels of government and civil service:

Un-reversing the Chicago River so that we stop draining out the Great Lakes would be a good start. Not sure if that qualifies as "simple."