Sustainable Chicago 2015

Chicago has set the ambitious goal of being the first sustainable city in the US and the Sustainable Chicago 2015 plan, is already underway with 24 goals and 100 key actions. Named the 2014 National Earth Hour Capitol, Chicago is the first city with a climate smart policy.

According to a September 18, 2015 article on its Web site, the World Wildlife Foundation noted, chicagoflag“Sustainable Chicago is a broad action plan that covers seven themes: economic development and job creation; energy efficiency and clean energy; transportation options; water and wastewater and waste and recycling; parks, open space and healthy food; and climate change.”

The seven categories of Sustainable Chicago 2015 “…are related and reinforce each other…”:

  1. Economic development and job creation
  2. Energy efficiency and clean energy
  3. Transportation options
  4. Water and wastewater
  5. Parks, open space and healthy food
  6. Waste and recycling
  7. Climate change

Some of the 2014 achievements touched all seven categories and include:

  • Greencorps Chicago Youth Program provides high school students summer learning and workforce training in horticulture and bicycling.
  • Chicago became the first city to include online energy disclosure in residential home sale listings.
  • Launched Drive Electric Chicago, a one-stop shop Web site for residents to gather information about electric vehicles, including charge station installation guidelines for multiunit buildings.
  • The Space to Grow partnership built green infrastructure projects on the Chicago Public School campuses.
  • The Large Lots Program offered city-owned vacant lots to local residents, block clubs and community organizations for $1.
  • The city and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District agreed to partner in reusing tree waste in water treatment, and compost wastewater treatment byproduct to fertilize Chicago Park District open spaces.
  • City council passed a plastic bag ban in large retail stores (goes into effect August 2015)
  • Coal-free power acquired for all municipal facilities

According to the report, “In the third and final year of Sustainable Chicago 2015 we, [the City of Chicago] look forward to continue our progress and lay the groundwork for Chicago’s leadership in sustainability in 2016 and beyond.”

For more detailed information on Sustainable Chicago 2015 including goals visit http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/progs/env/SCYear2Report.pdf.

 

 

Say Goodbye to Plastic Bags

With the recent crisis in the Gulf, people are finally paying attention to the evils of oil and realizing we need to reduce our dependence upon the substance. According to Wikipedia, “Plastic bags are often made from polyethylene, which consists of long chains of ethylene monomers. Ethylene is derived from natural gas and petroleum.” So basically those bags you grab for just one item — those bags are made of oil. But, you can reuse those plastic bags. Many grocery stores have bins where you can deposit these bags.  The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that each ton of plastic bags saves an energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil. Heavy duty bags can be reused many times for transporting items. Lighter weight bags can be reused as bin bags or to pick up pet feces.

Littering is also a problem.How many times have we driven down the highway and have seen bags tossed at the side of the road? This is unsightly.

The best alternative to plastic bags is reusable bags, or, if you are making a small purchase, no bag. Do you really need a bag for that paperback book or bottle of aspirin? Cut down on plastic and packaging. Reusable bags are the “in” thing nowadays — just about every store sells their own “be green” bags — go into a Walgreens or Target and there will be bags at the checkout line for you to purchase. Many of these bags are constructed of a durable canvas or other heavy material and are much sturdier than plastic anyway. Some reusable bags are made of recycled plastic or other materials. For those of you who aren’t too keen on toting around a bag with the Target logo, there are plenty of “designer” bags out there to choose from.

Additionally, we need to cut down on anything plastic — those plastic water bottles, turn to aluminum instead. Water is meant to be free! Just fill up your reusable water bottle from the drinking fountain. Trust me, I’m sure the water will taste just as good or better. Plastic sandwich bags — wash them out and reuse them, or there are recycled plastic bags you can purchase. Or better yet, use a sandwich container or wax paper to wrap your sandwich.

Every little step counts toward reducing our plastic impact.