Want to learn more about some of the sustainability topics we introduce in our C3 Leadership Training?
These resources are a great deeper dive into some key issues we face in Chicago and around the globe. Read on, watch on, and reach out to our partners!
Use the following links to navigate directly to a specific section:
Water; Waste; Energy; Green Space; Community Organizing
- Alliance for the Great Lakes
Learn more about the Alliance for the Great Lakes™ efforts to protect and conserve this important natural resource through their research (you can read their reports!), advocacy, and education efforts. Learn about things like the Great Lakes Compact, invasive species, microbeads, and other forms of pollution and how we can take action on these issues.
- Before the Faucet, After the Flush
Want to learn more about where our drinking water comes from and where our wastewater goes? Watch this short film produced through the Chicago Department of Water Management and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
- Lou Chicago’s Rainy Day
Watch this entertaining YouTube video (featuring puppets!) that explains combined sewer overflows in Chicago and how water conservation can help address this problem.
The Chicago Department of Water Management offers free water meters to Chicago residents to help people track their usage and measure the impact of their conservation efforts. Meters also come with a seven-year guarantee that bills will not increase for previously unmetered accounts and meter recipients also receive great water conservation kits for free.
This Center for Neighborhood Technology program helps people manage flooding and drought in their communities. They do this through home assessments, community organizing, and policy and advocacy work.
- Chicago Recycling Guide
Learn about the City of Chicago’s recycling program (for residences with 4 units or fewer), including what can be recycled (the guide).
- Circular Economy
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation offers this resource to explain a new approach to how we use resources, turning the cradle-to-grave mentality on its head and treating things that were formerly considered waste as valuable resources. This theory connects with work being done at Chicago with the ReBuilding Exchange and the Plant Chicago.
- Composting Brochure by the Garfield Park Conservatory
The Garfield Park Conservatory has a great downloadable brochure to help you get started composting at home.
- Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago by David Naguib Pellow
This book takes a sociological approach to analyzing environmental justice concerns over waste dumping, incineration, landfills and recycling, offering a historical view of the garbage industry throughout the life cycle of waste. Although the focus is on Chicago, it places the trends and conflicts in a broader context, describing how communities throughout the United States have resisted the waste industry’s efforts to locate hazardous facilities in their backyards.
- Waste Characterization and Diversion Studies
In 2021, the City of Chicago performed a Waste Characterization Study and a Waste Diversion Study. The Waste Characterization Study details the quantity, sources and composition of the city’s waste stream.
- Worms Ate My Garbage by Mary Appelhof
This is the definitive guide to vermicomposting – using red wriggler worms to eat food scraps and produce castings which can be used to fertilize plants. Learn how to start and maintain a bin with this resource.
- Chicago Complete Streets
The City of Chicago is committed to building Complete Streets to ensure that everyone — pedestrians, transit users, bicyclists and motorists — can travel safely and comfortably along and across a street. Complete Streets give Chicagoans of all ages and abilities safer, cheaper, and healthier travel options. They support economic development and can incorporate environmental services and placemaking, which helps to create sustainable infrastructure and communities. Learn more about the City’s plans and projects here.
- Citizens Utility Board
This consumer advocacy organization does a great job of raising awareness of rebates and programs that can help us save energy in partnership with utilities and other non-profits.
- Home Weatherization
Want to learn about energy audits and air sealing and insulating your home? Check out our downloadable guide.
- National Climate Assessment
This interactive website shares a detailed look at the impacts of climate change on different regions of the United States and different business sectors. A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced this report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Smart Power Illinois
Learn more about upgrades to our electric grid and how we can use advanced meters to help us save on our electricity bills.
- Chicago Wilderness Resource Library
This alliance offers a library of free, downloadable resources including regional planning documents and educational tools.
- Chicago Wilderness Priority Species
They also highlight 12 priority species in the region: native animals that are threatened and need our support.
- Friends of the Forest Preserves
Learn about the history of the Cook County Forest Preserves, as well as principles of ecological restoration and opportunities for stewardship.
- Nature’s Metropolis by William Cronon
This environmental perspective on the history of nineteenth-century America explores the ecological and economic changes that made Chicago what it is today.
This partner leads endeavors to protect the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives. Visit their website to learn more about how to get involved in their efforts to engage people with nature, including TreeKeepers, Birds In My Neighborhood, and Building School Gardens. You can also learn about their conservation projects including the Lakeshore Preserve, work with Chicago’s rivers, local food systems and more.
- The Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s Conservation Research
Learn about what happens beyond the Museum’s walls! Our scientists lead conservation programs for turtles, snakes, and butterflies.
- The Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s Community Science Programs
Learn how to you can contribute to science! Our scientists teach anyone who is interested (no advanced degree required!) how to help collect data about local species to support several important research projects.
- Asset Mapping
Connect, a project led by the Chicago Botanic Garden and featuring dozens of partners, developed a worksheet to help you identify great resources in your community upon which you can build projects and networks.
- Chicago Community Climate Action Toolkit
The Field Museum offers specific tools and activities to help you engage your community in action around climate change issues.
- Collective Social Learning
This book is a practical guide for anyone seeking to design and deliver a strategic transformational change process. This process can help insure that all voices are heard as plans are developed to address issues within communities.
- Fostering Sustainable Behavior — Doug McKenzie-Mohr — Community-Based Social Marketing
This book introduces a process by which one can identify a specific behavior they would like to change in others, then leverage benefits and minimize barriers to encourage the adoption of more sustainable behaviors.