As part of its ongoing efforts to implement the Environmental Sustainability Plan for Oak Park and River Forest, PlanItGreen is introducing several educational opportunities for residents.

A Green Guides program (sustainability block captain, of a sort), a Residential Waste Reduction Education Campaign and a new Lunch and Learn Series are all programs designed for Oak Park and River Forest residents and institutions that PlanItGreen is spearheading this fall.

Green Guides is a new program launching in October inviting residents to sign up to help connect their neighbors to existing programs and resources. For more information on this program, please email us.


Mary Jo Warskow of Elevate Energy presents at the first Lunch and Learn.

The waste reduction education campaign will center on helping to make it easy for residents to recycle, compost and reduce their waste and help our communities reach the goal to keep 50 percent of waste out of the landfill. Oak Park and River Forest together are diverting an average of 37 percent right now, so we need to find a way to work together to recycle and compost more! Look for educational tools to be sent out later this month. To volunteer to support this effort, please contact .

The Lunch and Learn Series invites members of the Oak Park River Forest communities to have lunch on PlanItGreen and the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation while learning about strategies and financing for energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades.

More than a dozen people representing various local organizations and businesses attended the first Lunch and Learn on Sept. 16 held in the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation boardroom. The presentation, “Lower Your Organization’s Operating Costs: Free Energy Assessments, Upgrade Recommendations, and Connection to Financing for Institutions and Nonprofits” was led by Malory Giraldo and Mary Jo Warskow of Elevate Energy. They talked about smart grid benefits and dynamic electricity pricing. Elevate Energy, a Chicago nonprofit that works to bring efficiency to scale, has partnered previously with PlanItGreen to help local homeowners reduce carbon dioxide production.

The next Lunch and Learn event, “Rainwater Harvesting and Greywater Reuse Systems for Buildings” will be 12-1 p.m. on Oct. 14. John Bauer, president of Wahaso-Water Harvesting Solutions, will be the presenter. Space is limited to 25 attendees per session. Email Lisa at  to reserve your place.

PlanItGreen is also helping students increase their environmental awareness through zero waste programs that reduce the amount of waste going into landfills through reducing, recycling and composting. Trinity High School in River Forest and St. Giles in Oak Park are the two latest local schools to launch zero waste programs under PlanItGreen’s guidance.

Trinity has a new sustainability team composed of school administrators, teachers, a board member and a student. The school also has an environmental club with over 70 students excited to help Trinity to be more sustainable. One goal the school has set is to work on waste reduction through recycling and composting, with the assistance of Seven Generations Ahead. In mid September, SGA Zero Waste program manager Jen Nelson and Susan Casey, Zero Waste School Consultant, helped Trinity conduct a classroom recycling audit. The students will use the information they collected to become a more environmentally sound and sustainable school.

St. Giles launched its zero waste program on Day 1 of the 2015-16 school year by holding assemblies for every student that taught them about lunch procedures and their own environmental impact. Students successfully sorted waste and resources in the lunchroom and classrooms. They have gone from sending 100 percent to the landfill to now sending less than 20 percent.