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Celebrate Chicago River Day on May 14th

North Branch Works
February 14, 2022

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Chicago River Day, Friends of the Chicago River is joining forces with North Branch Works to move towards a Litter Free Goose Island. Together, we’re challenging all businesses and organizations located on Goose Island to make their properties and adjacent public lands free of litter

Why Litter Cleanups Matter

As the only organization solely dedicated to the Chicago River system, Friends of the Chicago River has been working for over 40 years to improve the health of the Chicago River system for people, plants, and animals. Friends also believes that the river can be both ecologically healthy and a catalyst for community revitalization and to achieve that it needs to be Litter Free.

Chicago River Day and all of Friends’ litter free efforts work towards both short-term and long-term outcomes including to benefit our Goose Island community. Removing trash directly from the river and adjacent lands has an immediate positive impact. Studies by Keep America Beautiful show that areas without litter deter future littering. Volunteers at Chicago River Day also regularly report the intent to change behaviors and support policies that will result in less litter being present in our environment.

Thirty years and more than 60,000 volunteers after the first Chicago River Day, the Chicago River system is no longer a forgotten waterway fenced off and filled with sewage and trash. Instead, the river system is a vibrant wildlife corridor, publicly accessible, and alive with over 75 species of fish; countless species of birds; and many native animals including beavers, turtles, and the American mink, which symbolizes the river’s return to health.

What it Means to the Community

As members of the riverfront corporate community we are committed to sustainability and doing our part to improve the river’s health and removing litter is a great way to pitch in.” – Lisa Disbrow, Waste Management

“Being with other people who are passionate about the Chicago River and want to help.”

“You can see exactly what you’ve improved, I liked thinking of other people cleaning other parts of the river for me to enjoy later, just as I was cleaning my part for them.”

“Seeing all the garbage that was collected.”

“Seeing how beautiful it looked when we were done.”

These are just a few of the sentiments shared by volunteers about why participating in Chicago River Day matters. Now in its 30th year, Chicago River Day, will return on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

At over 70 locations across the watershed, from Lake County to southern Cook County, volunteers mobilize to help cleanup, have fun, and get inspired by fellow volunteers. Friends of the Chicago River challenges everyone to do their part in making the Chicago and Calumet Rivers litter free!

How to Get Involved in Chicago River Day

Volunteers are key to Chicago River Day and many of Friends’ programs and projects. You can find out more information about volunteering and Friends’ mission by visiting To learn how you and your organization can support Friends of the Chicago River and Chicago River Day, please contact Kim Olsen-Clark, Director of Development,, 312-939-0490 x 19.

Specialized training on how to conduct your own cleanup will be offered by Annette Anderson (, Volunteer and Events Coordinator, for Friends of the Chicago River. You’ll learn more about the importance of keeping litter out of the river and how to safely prepare your staff (and maybe their families) to participate in a litter free event.

To learn more about this training, please contact Annette or Steve Simmons (, Director of Business and Economic Development at North Branch Works.

This post was authored by Joe Hinton, Director of Environment, Equity and Engagement, at Friends of the Chicago River.

Images courtesy of Friends of the Chicago River



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