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 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 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: Winter 2022

Use the arrows to scroll through most recent social media posts pertaining to sustainability in Northbrook.

Northbrook’s Climate Action Plan calls to reduce our contribution to landfill waste. While recycling is an important step to manage this, zero waste lifestyle practices go beyond resource recovery to help address the larger issues of climate change and conservation. 
Learn about practical tips to reduce waste, save money, and address climate change in daily life at Zero Waste 101 (Virtual) on Wednesday, January 19, from 7-8pm. This event, hosted by the Northbrook Public Library in partnership with Go Green Northbrook, will be held live on Zoom. Register in advance at https://visit.northbrook.info/event/5902843


Public Works was here! Have you seen these lines on streets around Northbrook? That means the Village's Public Works Department has pre-treated the road with a beet juice/salt brine blend. The pre-treating mixture prevents snow and ice from accumulating on the street and therefore contributes to less salt being used - by about 30%! 
Rock salt is of great concern for river life as it's toxic to fish, plants, and other aquatic life. Consider using your own salt brine at home to lessen the amount of harmful rock salt being used in Northbrook.

de-icing beet tracks

 How long do you leave your decorations up? For those that hang on past the New Year, today is National Take Down The Christmas Tree Day! 
Also, this month Waste Management is accepting real trees, garland, and wreaths for recycling on your regular pickup day. Remove all lights and decorations, and make sure your organic items are easily accessible at the curb.

holiday decorations

´The state recently reopened its solar funding program, in which the state provides a monetary incentive for renewable energy credits generated over a solar installation’s first 15 or 20 years of operation. Many different project types are eligible, however interested parties can only apply for funding through approved vendors. Learn more at https://www.northbrook.il.us/1032/Solar-Initatives 


January 5 is National Bird Day. A rare bird spotted in Northbrook backyards is the red-headed wood pecker. They have a wide range in diet, from fruits and nuts to bugs, small rodents, and eggs.
Fun Fact: This striking bird was a favorite of early ornithologists such as Audubon!

Bird with red head on a dead tree branch

Although cozying up in a blanket or snuggling with the family pet are some of the ways to stay warm, another way is with Nicor Gas free weatherization kits! Nicor customers can order up to two free kits today to seal any air leaks that could be creating a chill and costing you on your heating bill. https://bit.ly/2P9Wbf1


Northbrook is grateful to partner with ComEd for participation in their Energy Efficiency Program! The Village received incentives incentives to complete LED fixture and light conversions at four Village facilities. This will reduce the Village’s kilowatt hour usage by an estimated 548,863 kilowatt hours per year, which is equivalent to 84.6 passenger vehicles being taken off the road!

In addition to energy savings from the increased efficiency, the new LED lights will also be set to dim themselves down automatically based on detection of motion activity or if there is enough natural light coming in through the windows.

ComEd’s Energy Efficiency Program, which is funded in compliance with State law, offers incentives, rebates, discounts and recycling opportunities to assist customers in conserving energy and saving money as a result. See resident or business discounts online: www.comed.com/WaysToSave  

comed lighting

During the month of January, recycle your organic holiday tree by placing it at the curb on your recycling day. Remove all lights, garland, and decorations, and make sure your tree is easily accessible at the curb.

Please note that dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in your home or garage or be placed outside against your home. 

tree recycling

Looking for a sustainable way to get rid of old or broken toys? Northbrook offers used toy recycling bins in the lobby of Village Hall at 1225 Cedar Lane. Accepted items are anything used for play, including electronic toys. This includes toy pieces, game boards, packaging from board games, books with sound, handheld electronic games and players, remote control vehicles, electronic stuffed animals, building sets, and stuffed animals. Terracycle separates materials for refurbishing and reuse. 

UPDATE: Our toy recycling program has reached capacity and is no longer available. Thanks to all who contributed!

toy recycling

The Northbrook Public Library solidified its commitment to sustainability through adopting Northbrook's Climate Action Plan! Located in the lobby across from the elevators, you can drop off the following items to recycle next time you’re visiting:
♻️ Batteries
♻️ Eyeglasses
♻️ Phones
♻️ Empty snack & candy wrappers
♻️ Unusable pens, pencils, markers, and glue sticks
♻️ Used toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes & dental floss containers

Library Recycle Bins

Are you twiddling your green thumb looking for an opportunity to get outside as winter sets in? The colder months are a great time of year to tackle invasive buckthorn that is a large threat to our native ecosystem. Get involved with Somme Woods Community restoration workdays, or learn about buckthorn identification and control procedures in your own backyard at http://ow.ly/PvsR30rAtbt 

Somme Woods Burn

While waiting to pick up food or goods from Northbrook businesses, remember to turn off your vehicle's engine. Idling produces harmful emissions that contribute to smog and climate change. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than stopping and restarting your engine! 


Timely Tips for Going Green: Fall 2021

As part of the Climate Action Plan, Northbrook committed to growing our tree canopy. So far in 2021 through a combination of tree giveaways and the 50/50 parkway planting program, we have planted 787 trees in our community! According to the EPA this is the equivalent of around 47 metric tons of carbon dioxide being removed from the atmosphere. Way to grow Northbrook!
📸 Photo by GBN News Editor Alicia Amsel 📸
Check out this article in the GBN Torch on the Village's Climate Action Plan: http://torch.glenbrook225.org/.../northbrook-adopts.../

tree giveaway 2021_ Tessa

Did your cat mistake your holiday lights for a toy again? Don't throw the lights in the trash! Bring any busted, broken, or burnt out holiday lights to the Village for recycling starting tomorrow, December 1, through January 31. Lights can be dropped off in the Village Hall lobby on weekdays from 8:30am-4:30pm, at the Fleet Maintenance Garage behind Village Hall on weekdays from 7am-3pm, or during regular Electronics Recycling events on the first Tuesday and Saturday of the month. 

cat with holiday lights

Looking for ways to save water and money? Check your toilets for silent leakage! The Northbrook Water Department recommends the following “color check” method… open the toilet tank, drop a dye tablet or some food coloring in, and wait 15 to 20 minutes. When you return, look in the toilet bowl, not the tank. If you see colored water, then you have a leak.

save water

As part of your weekend errands, get rid of your old and broken electronics safely at our bi-monthly electronics recycling event! These events are held the first Tuesday of each month (7am-3pm) and the first Saturday of each month (9am-noon) at the Fleet Maintenance Garage behind Village Hall (1227 Cedar Lane). Please do not leave electronics at this location outside of these hours.
Bonus: Broken or unwanted holiday lights can be dropped off at these events for recycling!

elec rec

Good news: Northbrook has been awarded a SolSmart Gold designation for our efforts to make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar! Gold is the highest designation a community can receive, and we are proud to be recognized as a national leader in advancing solar energy.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, SolSmart recognizes cities and counties for cutting red tape and making solar more affordable and accessible for homes and businesses. We are committed to reducing solar energy costs at the local level and encouraging even more homes and businesses to use this clean, affordable energy source. The SolSmart Gold designation recognizes that we are “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment that generates economic development and jobs. 

On Native American Heritage Day, we celebrate the original stewards of lands in Northbrook, the Potawatomi tribe. The Potawatomi teach their children about the "Seven Grandfather Teachings" of wisdom, respect, love, honesty, humility, bravery, and truth toward each other and all creations. Pictured is small white leek, which is used in the traditional cuisine of the Potawatomi and grows in Northbrook’s natural areas. 

white leek

You may have heard Northbrook is one of the last places on earth that the endangered rusty patched bumble bee can be found. This bee needs our help for the survival of its species! 
Every hive starts with just one queen bee. Each year after mating the queen bee nests alone only a few inches underground to overwinter from November until spring. To help, leave the leaves on the ground on your property to insulate a warm and healthy habitat for the rusty patched bumble bee.


Coyotes are part of the natural wildlife that surrounds our community. Generally, coyotes are non-aggressive and spend the vast majority of time in the forest preserves. Winter weather may make coyotes more visible as they venture from the woodlands to forage for food. Residents should keep in mind the following information:
• Coyotes will search out small animals for food, so pet owners should be vigilant about watching their small pets when outside. 
• Always keep pets on a leash, especially in or around wooded areas.
• Keep your cats indoors. 
• Coyotes eat a variety of foods, including plants and small animals, and generally cause few problems in the community.
• Although the coyotes are wild animals and do hunt to survive, they will generally shy away from humans.
• Children should be cautioned that coyotes are not dogs, and they should not chase or try to pet them.
• Aggressive behavior toward humans is rare.
• Try to keep coyotes away from your home by making sure your garbage cans have lids that are sealed tightly.
• Do not feed your pet outside or leave pet food outside.
• Never feed the coyotes!
For more information about coyotes in Chicagoland, please visit urbancoyoteresearch.com/


Around 20% of material going to our landfills is wasted food, which is especially detrimental to the environment as it releases heat-trapping gasses 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide. 
Did you know you can compost your food scraps in Waste Management’s organics collection program? Either sign up for a year-round subscription program or purchase stickers (available until November 30) from Village Hall to get started! 

compost guidelines

A great way to connect with nature and help our environment is to shrink your lawn space, plant natives, and leave the leaves to allow wildlife habitat. Stop by the Northbrook Public Library lobby for free milkweed seed packets and information on fall native planting for pollinators! Seed packets are available while supplies last. 

lib display

The Smash was a hit 🎃🥊 At last Sunday’s Northbrook Pumpkin Smash at Northbrook Court, we composted a grand total of 4.61 tons of pumpkins! Gourd job, Northbrook 👏 

dumpster full of pumpkins

Don't throw your pumpkins in the trash - bring them to the smash! To divert waste away from landfills, the Village and Northbrook Court are hosting a Pumpkin Smash composting event on Sunday, November 7 from noon-3pm at Northbrook Court (northeast parking lot near Neiman Marcus).
Residents have the option to drive through and drop off pumpkins with a volunteer or to park and participate in a pumpkin "smash!" See how far you can toss your pumpkin to hit one of the targets inside the dumpster.

Pumpkin Smash Art

Fall is an important time of year to care for young trees by mulching their surrounding soil. Some mulching tips:
- To keep trees healthy, they should be mulched every fall and spring within the first three years of planting.
- Follow the 3x3x3 rule: place mulch starting 3 inches from the base of the trunk, 3 inches deep, and 3 feet wide. Over-mulching and piling mulch against the trunk prevents air and water from getting to the tree’s roots.
- Northbrook has free mulch available 24/7 at Public Works (655 Huehl Road).
🌳 Happy mulching!

Pinecone in forefront with pile of mulch in background

Did you know that red solo cups are type 6 plastic and therefore not recyclable? Waste Management’s single stream recycling service accepts plastic types 1-5. Make sure to check the number on plastics before throwing these items away. Better yet, try to avoid buying disposable plastics and opt for reusable or compostable alternatives instead! 

Common Contaminants

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

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.