Recycling 3.0: How Some North Shore Communities are Leading the Charge

Recycling is a trend that will never go out of style. Recycling protects the environment; it saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. What’s more: Contributing to your community’s recycling efforts is a simple way to get involved and stay connected. We’ve highlighted a few North Shore communities that are making a difference via their recycling programs and provided resources to encourage involvement.

Organizations such as the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) and the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) operate more than 23 communities’ recycling programs along the North Shore. While all SWANCC and SWALCO communities have curbside recycling programs, some communities provide unique opportunities to go further and get involved.


Evanston has taken several measures to further improve recycling in its town. While the city operates traditional pick-ups through SWANCC, it also celebrates recycling throughout the year with several opportunities to reduce and reuse.

On July 9, Evanston will host its 6th Annual Recycling Event from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. where residents can recycle a variety of things, including textiles and electronics, and also have the opportunity to securely shred documents. Through a partnership with Random Act of Flowers, the city collects vases to repurpose flowers and deliver bouquets to local healthcare facilities.

Evanston has also instituted the Share-A-Bag program, following the Chicago-wide bag ordinance, which took place last summer. The ban prohibits retailers from using traditional plastic bags; some retailers have opted to provide thicker, reusable bags, at no extra charge to customers.

Lake Forest

Lake Forest has a unique compost center, for residents only, open every weekend. Composting has become a focus for many active recyclers. While it reduces waste, composting also converts waste into products that are useful for gardening, landscaping, and caring for houseplants. Benefits include reducing the need for fertilizers and reducing methane emissions from landfills, according to the EPA.

In May, the town partnered with SWALCO for two drives — one for textile recycling and another for shoe recycling, which will send shoes to nations in need.


While Wilmette operates several of its recycling programs through SWANCC, the town has a unique organization of dedicated recycling residents called Go Green Wilmette. The group was founded in 2006 and is dedicated to working with residents, schools, the park district, and other public institutions to make Wilmette a healthier place to live.

On June 4, the organization will host an event for World Environment Day at the Chicago Botanic Garden with interactive activities and learning opportunities from the Garden’s horticulturists and the Windy City Harvest Staff. Additionally, attendees may recycle plastic plant containers and bring vases for Random Acts of Flowers.

Find more on Go Green Wilmette’s calendar.

To learn more about opportunities to start or join in on the recycling fun in your community, visit SWANCC or SWALCO.

More from Make It Better:

  Who We Are       NFP Support       Magazine       Programs       Donate