Environmental Sustainability in Northbrook

Northbrook's Climate Action Plan

Northbrook's Climate Action Plan (CAP) is Northbrook's mission to reduce carbon emissions and foster a sustainable community for all. This is a Village-wide goal of 35% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 80% by 2040, in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement and LEED for Cities. The Village Board adopted the Climate Action Plan and established a Sustainability Commission on August 10, 2021.  Learn more.

CAP1 Opens in new window

Timely Tips for Going Green: Fall 2021

Northfield Township is hosting its final household hazardous waste collection event of the year on Saturday, October 23, from 9am-1pm at 237 Melvin Drive in Northbrook. 
The following items will be accepted: antifreeze, cleaning products that are consumer commodities only, charcoal lighter fluid, driveway sealer (limit of 2 five gallon buckets), drain cleaners, paint thinners and gasoline in approved/original containers only, insecticides, and herbicides. 
Did you know that Northbrook is in a severe drought? Even when the weather appears rainy, drought conditions persist in the absence of prolonged rainfall. Trees and shrubs are your most valuable landscape asset, so the Village urges you to provide water to help them survive. 
💧 Rule of thumb for watering your trees and shrubs: If we haven’t had an inch of rain in any week, water your trees at least once a week with 20 gallons of water.
Have questions about watering? Check out our website page for answers and tips: northbrook.il.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=456

October 6 is Energy Efficiency Day 💡 Today we are reminded that being smarter about using electricity and natural gas to reduce wasted energy can deliver significant results. Not only does it help the climate by reducing our electric consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, it also lowers your energy costs each month.

You can read more on how to save at http://energyefficiencyday.org/ways-to-save-on-your-next.../ or receive a free home energy assessment including free ENERGY STAR ® products here: comed.com/WaysToSave/ForYourHome/Pages/SingleFamily.aspx  


Scientists report that land use change and global warming are driving a sharp decline in bug populations: this threatens agricultural production and our entire ecosystem. Don’t let your yard be a part of the problem, let it be a part of the solution!

🍂 Leaving the leaves on the ground of your yard allows for butterflies, bees, and many other animals to survive winter. It helps maintain nutrient-rich, productive soil for your plants and trees as well. Any leaves on the hardscape can be put in garden beds or composted.

If you must, use a lawn mower to mulch leaves directly into turf grass. The smaller leaf bits will allow sunlight to keep grass growing and provide free fertilizer when microbes and worms get to work recycling them 244573102_4478275492220827_8945190995997915848_n

Plastic bag recycling is back at Northbrook Village Hall! To recycle plastic bags, collection bins are located near Village Hall’s back entrance. Accepted items are grocery bags, dry cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, and Ziploc bags. Only clean and dry bags made of lightweight plastic should be collected. Cereal bags, bubble wrap, and plastic film are not recyclable through this collection. Excessive contamination from unacceptable items will result in discontinuation of the service. 
A big thanks goes out to local Northbrook business, Aargus Plastics, Inc. for partnering with the Village for this new program. They will reuse our plastic collection to make 100% recycled plastic bags. 


The Village is giving away free trees to help our environment and ourselves. See the full list of species available here: northbrook.il.us/DocumentCenter/View/5036/tree-giveaway-2021
You must make arrangements to pick up your tree from Public Works by contacting Sustainability Coordinator Tessa Murray at tessa.murray@northbrook.il.us with your address and preferred tree species. Trees are 6-feet-tall with developed roots, and residents will be responsible for transporting and planting them on their own.

bur oak

Timely Tips for Going Green: Summer 2021

On Saturday, September 25 10-3, volunteer homeowners will be available to talk to you about their solar powered homes and Electric Vehicles. This FREE event hopes to inspire residents to make sustainable energy choices that reduce energy costs and support clean energy that we desperately need. This tour is in conjunction with Illinois Solar Education Association-ISEA. Go to their site to find homes and businesses in your neighborhood that are benefiting the environment and getting low cost energy.

GGN ISEA tour 

Did you know Northbrook is lucky to be home of Somme Woods, an established State Nature Preserve? This land is designated as one of the highest quality natural areas in the state and its status includes increased levels of legal protection and management. In the late summer, exploring our local nature affords us an opportunity to observe rare native wildflowers of the oak woodlands. Visit https://sommepreserve.org/ to find resources like self-guided tours, event calendars, and more! 

Cream Gentian and Blue Lobelia


The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District (our local public health agency for vector-borne disease control) advises you to think twice before hiring a mosquito control company for your backyard. These companies often use barrier treatments that likely contribute to mosquito resistance in our region. Learn more about this issue and Integrated Pest Management alternatives here bit.ly/MGGbarriersPR.

Share the road: drive and bike safely! On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users.
Rules of the Road from the Illinois Secretary of State provides important laws and safety tips regarding bicyclists. Remember:

  • Bicyclists are required by law to stop at stop signs and red lights.
  • Bicyclists are required to travel in the same direction as vehicles.
  • Drivers must yield the right of way to a bicyclist just as they would to another vehicle.
  • Bicyclists may need to ride outside of a bike lane and drivers should be prepared to safely move around them.

With Waste Management’s acquisition of Advanced Disposal, please note updated recycling guidelines. Waste Management’s single stream recycling program accepts common household items like paper, metal, most plastics, and glass. For plastics, types 1-5 are accepted. Aerosol cans cannot be recycled. Waste Management provides a helpful guide to Recycle Right and information on Common Contaminants to keep out of recycling bins.Poster-What-to-Recycle

This is the Demonstration Rain Garden at Village Hall last October versus now, only ten months later! Today, the garden is blooming with newly added native wetland plants that maximize stormwater absorption and carbon storage in their complex root systems. Thank you to Village Trustees Israel and Ross, who helped plant the now-thriving garden! 

Timely Tips for Going Green: Spring 2021

IL Invasive Species Month


Do you or your hired landscaping company use gas-powered leafblowers? Please consider the health of your human and animal neighbors when you begin spring cleanup of foliage in your yard. Alternatives such as rakes, mulchers, and electric blowers are far less dangerous in terms of emissions and noise pollution.


In April, Northfield Township Road District recycled a record amount of paper: over 27,000 pounds! If you missed the April sensitive documents recycling day, the next is on Saturday May 22 or view the whole schedule.


The Village of Northbrook encourages residents and businesses to make every day Earth Day! Check out our list of ten deeds to green up your day, including activities like completing our Earth Month Scavenger Hunt, volunteering at Somme Woods, donating used shoes, and starting a summer compost bucket: ow.ly/yGi230rFpoA


Trees are the best example of nature-based solutions to climate change. Planting new trees is an amazing step towards climate resilience: but only mature trees provide the full ecosystem benefits like improved energy usage, stormwater infiltration, and significant sequestration of air and noise pollution. Maintenance and care is super important for ensuring trees grow to maturity and stay healthy. Young trees 1-3 years old should be consistently watered and mulched, and older trees should be pruned as needed to maintain proper growth habits.

The Village will be planting 4 Arbor Day trees this year.  One is for the Greenbriar Girl Scout Troop #47193, one is for Westmoor School, two are for Glenbrook North High School for GBN student, Sarah Ryan’s project to plant trees to offset paper usage at the school.  

Need a little help with your trees? Contact Public Works: https://www.northbrook.il.us/182/Forestry-Services

For our commitment to effective urban forest management, the Village of Northbrook has been named a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation for the 26th consecutive year! We are also pleased to announce that the Village received a Tree City USA Growth Award for demonstrating environmental improvement and a higher level of tree care. 
Get more information on the Tree City USA program at www.arborday.org/programs/treecityusa/


Don't throw out your old cell phones or let them sit in a drawer! With the Cook County Sheriff's "Cell Phones for Seniors" program, your unused cell phone can become a lifesaver for a senior citizen. 
Old/Used cell phones can be dropped off in the recycling bin located in the Northbrook Public Library's Curbside Pickup room. You can enter the room from the library's parking lot (follow the Curbside Pickup signs) or through the library's main entrance located on the East side of the building. The room is open during the library's open hours (Mon-Thurs: 11-7pm, Fri & Sat: 9-2pm, Sun: 1-5pm).

spring birds

Spending time immersed in nature is good for mental and physical wellbeing, and Northbrook is lucky to have beautiful natural areas like Somme Prairie Grove. You never know what you may find: check out these springtime birds captured in photos by a local naturalist!

While exploring the outdoors in Northbrook this April, take advantage of our Earth Month Scavenger Hunt and win a free packet of native wildflower seeds. 


rusty patched bumblebee on monarda

To demonstrate Northbrook’s commitment to vulnerable wildlife populations in our area, the Village has created an endangered species page on the Village website. Native pollinators such as the rusty patched bumble bee and monarch butterfly are endangered insects that need our help to ensure the survival of their species. You can help save them through natural landscaping practices. To help spread awareness and learn more, check out the page at https://www.northbrook.il.us/1017/Endangered-Species.


Mulch…what is it good for?

With Arbor Day around the corner, the Village invites residents to take advantage of the free mulch available at Public Works (655 Huehl Road). A simple mixture of wood chips or leaves benefit trees for a “mulch-titude" of reasons! Such as...
▪ increasing soil fertility
▪ insulating tree roots and soil
▪ controlling grass that competes with tree roots for space and nutrients
▪ retaining soil moisture, structure, and beneficial underground organisms 


In the USA, organic waste is the second largest component of landfills and the largest source of methane emissions (a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than co2). Start composting through Advanced Disposal to make huge improvements to your individual carbon footprint!

Residents can choose between the sticker program or a year-round subscription service. Stickers are available for purchase at Ace Hardware (1941 Cherry Lane), Jewel (2775 Pfingsten Road), Red's Garden Center (3460 Dundee Road), and Village Hall. Sign up for a subscription by contacting Advanced Disposal during business hours at 847-272-4145 or by email at northbrookIL@advanceddisposal.com.

Acceptable items may be placed in paper lawn bags or metal/plastic cans and put out on your regular collection day for pick up.

rusty patched bumblebee

Save the bees in our backyards! As homeowners begin to renew landscaping contracts or dust off last year’s equipment from the back of the garage, it might be time to reconsider our traditional methods of lawn maintenance.

In Northbrook, we share our environment with the critically endangered rusty patched bumblebee; the chemicals we use in our backyards impact the fate of this species. Learn more about what we can do to help:

Simple recycling flyerAre you doing some spring cleaning this weekend? Minimize your contribution to landfills by utilizing free curbside textile and household item collection through Simple Recycling. Simple Recycling follows the same route and holiday schedule as Advanced Disposal.

Visit https://simplerecycling.com/ or call 866-835-5068 to request collection bags.


Rainy weather is a great reminder that you can conserve water with a rain barrel! Rain barrels collect rain runoff from roofs and store it to be used for watering plants or a lawn. This eco-friendly solution helps save water and reduces your water bill and the amount of excess storm water that contributes to localized flooding.

The Village offers a subsidized rain barrel program for residents to purchase up to two barrels for $25 each at Village Hall. Learn more at www.northbrook.il.us/868/Water.

Earth Month Scavenger Hunt w map

Celebrate Earth Day all month long by appreciating nature in Northbrook! Residents who complete this Earth Month Scavenger Hunt in our forest preserves can email tessa.murray@northbrook.il.us to receive a free packet of native wildflower seeds! See the post above for details.

springbloomsSpring ephemerals are the early blooming flowers that take advantage of sunlight coming into the forest floor while the trees still do not have leaves. The Village encourages you to take a walk through our beautiful natural areas, like Somme Woods, to appreciate nature’s ever-changing beauty! Use this guide to help identify spring ephemerals commonly found in our area.

Guide to Quitting PlasticsDid you know lightweight plastic film materials, like plastic grocery bags, cannot be disposed of in your regular recycling? Avoid acquiring plastic packaging and cutlery by incorporating reusable alternatives into your daily habits.

Unfortunately, plastic bags and film are no longer accepted at Village Hall. Due to the large quantities being collected, our partners could no longer handle the amount of plastic. However, these items can be brought to Sunset Foods or Mariano's in Northbrook to be upcycled. Accepted items include clean plastic shopping bags, plastic wrap packaging, bread bags, shrink wrap, and dry cleaning bags.

treeplenishGlenbrook North High School student Sarah Ryan needs the Northbrook community's help to reach a tree-planting goal! To offset the amount of paper used in a typical school year, Sarah partnered with Tree-Plenish to facilitate plantings. Visit https://www.tree-plenishevents.org/glenbrook to order a tree or volunteer to help plant trees. All orders must be made by Wednesday, March 24. 


Did you know the monarch butterfly species is endangered? Through the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors' Monarch Pledge, President Sandy Frum is committed to creating a sustainable habitat for monarchs in Northbrook. Planting just one milkweed can attract monarch butterflies to lay eggs and feed caterpillars that become the next generation of monarchs. Also, residential gardens can be crucial in helping to sustain monarchs during their annual migration. Northbrook residents who plant milkweed, have native plants in their garden, and exclude exposure to pesticides are eligible to receive a “Let’s Make Northbrook a Monarch Way Station” garden sign. Email tessa.murray@northbrook.il.us to make arrangements. 

Timely Tips for Going Green: Winter 2021

Did you know that the presence of trees improves mental health, air quality, and sound quality? They also increase property values by 10-20% and help you save on your energy bill by providing shade to your home. Get all the benefits of trees at a fraction of the cost with the Village's Parkway Tree Planting Program! For $175 per tree, the Village will provide and plant a new tree on the parkway in front of your home (trees may not be ordered for private property). 
Learn more and check out the tree selections at northbrook.il.us/998/Parkway-Tree-Planting-Program. Orders are due by Thursday, March 4.

Take action for the environment in your own backyard! Common buckthorn is an invasive plant that has devastating impacts on our native ecosystem and provides an ideal habitat for disease-carrying ticks. If there is buckthorn on your property, the plant is weakest during early spring, so now is the time to start controlling its spread. Learn about buckthorn identification and control procedures in Northbrook at http://ow.ly/PvsR30rAtbt.

WorldWildlifeDay Opens in new windowMarch 3rd is World Wildlife Day! Planting native species is a tangible action anyone with outdoor space can take to help endangered wildlife, such as the Monarch butterfly. Although it's still winter and there is not much to tend to outside until the soil begins to thaw, now is a great time to begin planning your native garden. Residents are encouraged to use our guide to native garden planning to get started on transforming your outdoor space into a corridor for wildlife! Check it out at https://www.northbrook.il.us/DocumentCenter/View/4574/wintergardenprep?bidId=. 



The best way to care for trees weighed down by heavy snow is to be prepared before the blizzard hits. Major snowfall and ice storms can cause bending and damage, especially to smaller or younger trees. Proper dormant pruning creates a strong, healthy, and structurally sound tree that is more likely to weather a storm successfully. It is best to trim back low-hanging, damaged, or broken branches when plants are not actively growing in winter. Learn more from the Chicago Botanic Garden.

idlingThere is a common misconception that a modern car needs to idle for a few minutes in winter before you start driving. Auto experts today say that you should warm up the car for no more than 30 seconds, and the engine will warm up faster being driven. It is better for your car AND the environment to turn the engine off and on again as opposed to idling.

green new years


Show some love for Mother Nature by caring for a live holiday tree rather than a cut one. The Village explains the care and keeping of a potted evergreen tree in this article. With proper conditions, your tree can survive inside to ring in the holiday season. When festivities have ended, the holiday spirit is still alive as you watch your evergreen grow planted outside!

green new years


Household lighting is important in these dark winter months. If you haven't switched to LED bulbs, now is the time. LED bulbs last much longer than incandescent bulbs, and they put out the same amount of light using significantly less energy. That's great for the environment, and it can save you lots of money in the long-term on your electricity bill. Even though LED bulbs have a larger upfront cost compared to incandescent bulbs, the LED is still the less expensive option after less than a year of use. In the meantime, you'll enjoy less heat production and longer bulb life. 


winter home

You may be experiencing growing energy bills this winter as we spend more time at home, and heating your home already makes up almost half of the energy used! Investing in a #SmartThermostat is a quick way to conserve energy while you’re sleeping or out for a walk. Also, replacing the furnace filters keeps the furnace working efficiently. ComEd is offering $100 rebates on smart thermostats. Check out ComEd Heating Rebates and Smart Thermostat Rebates at ComEd.com/Rebates for savings in your home.


February 2 is World Wetlands Day. In Northbrook, we are privileged to live at the intersection of three vital ecosystem types (prairies, woodlands, and wetlands). Wetlands native to the Chicago region are home to animals such as beavers, river otters, frogs, turtles, birds, and more. From providing crucial habitat to the filtration and absorption of stormwater, take a moment today to appreciate all that our wetlands have to offer. The Village encourages residents to incorporate wetland plants such as swamp milkweed and blue flag iris (pictured respectively) into your outdoor spaces for a broad range of ecosystem benefits. Visit https://www.northbrook.il.us/868/Water to learn about Northbrook’s rain garden subsidy program.

save nature dont litter

Soil pollution occurs as a result of improper disposal of waste and can seriously harm our animal cohabitants in Northbrook’s ecosystem. Ever wonder where the turtles and snakes observed in Northbrook’s natural areas go for winter? They hibernate in soil underground! Garter snakes (commonly spotted at Somme Prairie Nature Reserve in the summertime) actually knot themselves together to maintain warmth in groups of sometimes thousands! If you love animals please do your part in preventing littering.

national bird day northbrook

January 5 is National Bird Day! Did you know several owl species come to Illinois from the North to spend the winters?  Take advantage of the different ecosystems Northbrook has to offer and try to spot some of the owls that call Illinois home in these winter months. Look for signs of Northern saw-whet owls (left) in Cedar trees and Short-eared owls (right) in open grassland fields. The Great horned owl (middle) is very common in Northbrook, recognizable by the male’s deep hoots for courting in December. By January, the females can be found sitting on their eggs in old squirrel or hawks’ nests high up in trees. Happy birding! Another great way to support native birds is by planting native plants that attract insects, food for our flying friends!

holiday tree recycling infographic


Plan ahead to cut down on waste this gift-giving season by reusing and recycling! Collecting the comics section of the newspaper, especially the colored comics on Sundays, is a great way to reduce and recycle without sacrificing aesthetics. Another option is to use cloth wrapping and encourage the recipient to wash and reuse this outer layer. Remain eco-friendly when you spread holiday cheer this year!


Beyond wearing an extra layer, there a few simple steps to take to conserve energy in heating your home before turning up the thermostat. Indoor air gets drier in winter months, which makes retaining heat more difficult. Humidifiers moisten the air and consequently allow for a better heat conservation. Houseplants are also great humidifiers because they naturally release moisture in the air through a process called evapotranspiration. Another tip is to set a ceiling fan to run clockwise on low speed. This will redistribute hear in your living space. Since warm air rises, the fan’s clockwise rotation will push the heat downward allowing for a more even distribution of heat.

Greenest Region Compact

When Northbrook signed on to the Greenest Region Compact in September 2018, the Village agreed to achieve green goals in collaboration with other municipalities across the Chicagoland region. Through the Greenest Region Corps, Northbrook receives an Americorps volunteer to serve our community as a Sustainability Fellow. With the GRC agreement, the Village tracks progress in 10 key sustainability areas: 

  1. Climate
  2. EnergyGRCLOGO
  3. Leadership
  4. Economic Development
  5. Municipal Operations
  6. Water
  7. Land
  8. Mobility
  9. Sustainable Communities
  10. Waste & Recycling

Sustainability Framework 

In 2013, the Village and Northbrook Park District partnered to create the Strategic Sustainability Plan, which outlines improvements and initiatives in energy, material management, natural resources, community development and transportation for a more sustainable future.