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Fed up With Litter? Fight Back and Join the ‘Public Enemy No. 1 Cleanup Day’

Photo for: Fed up With Litter? Fight Back and Join the ‘Public Enemy No. 1 Cleanup Day’

(Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock)

If you are fed up with the litter that is polluting Will County and beyond, the Forest Preserve District has scheduled an event where you can get involved and make a difference at one of the District’s largest preserves.

“Litter: Public Enemy No. 1 Cleanup Day” will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 31 at Hadley Valley – Gougar Road Access in Joliet. Participants will help the Forest Preserve clean up the preserve perimeter.

The event is open to all ages (ages 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult). So bring your kids to open their eyes to the importance of keeping preserved open space free of debris. You also will be passing down an environmental ethic to the next generation by showing concern for the planet's precious ecosystems.

All are welcome, but please RSVP in advance. Bring work gloves and a reusable water bottle and wear closed-toe shoes. Registration is required by Friday, July 30. Call 815.722.7364. 

Free pickers

As part of the larger "Litter: Public Enemy No. 1" summer campaign, the Forest Preserve is also giving away free pickers at five visitor centers to the first 100 people who request them. 

Pickers can be obtained at: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon, Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville, Monee Reservoir in Monee Township, Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township and Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet.

If you have a Forest Preserve picker and you sign up for the July 31 cleanup event, bring the picker with you. If you can't make the group cleanup event, the pickers can be used in preserves or neighborhoods at any time because litter knows no boundaries and every little bit of litter pickup helps the ecosystem at large.

One of the first people to nab a picker was Rachel Cairo, who posted a short video on Facebook showing the garbage she picked up with it during a recent hike at Isle a la Cache preserve. She found a plastic drinking cup, gum and cough drop wrappers, a Mylar balloon, two different muddy flip flops, a plastic bag and used tissues. 

"You name it, it's out there," she said. 

Cairo also had some advice for preserve visitors. 

"People, don't leave this garbage out in the woods, all right. Do your part and try to keep this world a nicer place." 

"We’re quite pleased with the response that we’ve seen to our litter campaign online as well as those that have picked up a litter picker at our visitor facilities," said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve's executive director. 

"Our hope is that these inspired folks will not only help out in our forest preserves but also lend a hand and remove the litter they see in their neighborhoods, public parks and school grounds," he added. "The more of us that pitch in, the better off the environment will be for everyone."

Larger campaign

In addition to the cleanup day and the picker giveaway, the "Litter: Public Enemy No. 1" campaign that was launched on June 22 is designed to raise public awareness about the toll litter takes in nature, including the harm to flora and fauna and the cost of cleanup.

The campaign includes stories and social media posts that illustrate the harm litter does to the environment and how the damage goes far beyond local communities. Stories posted so far include:


Stories that will be posted in the coming weeks will discuss the many problems caused by plastic and the various ways individuals can help.

The “Litter: Public Enemy No. 1” campaign follows the District’s award-winning 2019 “Don’t Be a Jerk” series. That series was designed to promote better behavior in the preserves and it featured videos and stories on trail and fishing etiquette, controlling your dog, and properly disposing of garbage.

Both campaigns are designed to educate members of the public on how they can become part of a team to protect nature, help preserve Will County’s natural resources and also make sure everyone can enjoy nature outings without having to look at garbage left behind by someone else.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.


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