Conservation: A Beginner’s Guide

Here are three ways to lend a helping hand while you’re out in nature. Spoiler alert: you will not believe how fun picking up trash can be.

Trash Pickup

Buy a trash picker. When we started taking daily walks in our local neighborhood, it become apparent very quickly: Chicago sidewalks & public spaces sure can get trashy! Instead of turning a blind eye, we hopped on Amazon and bought some trash pickers. It felt wonderful to make an impact within our few surrounding blocks. We like to use a bucket to put the trash in. This cuts down on disposable trash bags and ensures we’ll be protected from anything sharp.

The trash problem wasn’t just contained to our local zip code. Venturing to nearby forest preserves, we again noticed trash along trails. So we packed our trash pickers and never looked back. This is the biggest impact an individual can make on his/her own. I highly recommend it.

Allison putting the hurt on some invasive species during a volunteer event

Restoration Volunteering

Join a conservation & restoration group. Together, volunteers clear invasive species, do trail maintenance, trim brush, and more. Without restorative efforts, our local woods would be filled to the brim with invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle. Volunteering is a unique opportunity to get outside, be active, and care for your favorite natural space. It’s as simple as just showing up. Based on your location in the city, here are some resources to get you started:

Tip: wear clothes you don’t mind getting torn/burnt. Bring your own gloves, if you have a favorite pair that fits well. Tools are usually provided upon arrival. Have fun!

Die Buckthorn and Honeysuckle, Die!

Leave No Trace

Pledge to never be part of the problem. Keep a Ziploc bag in your pack to pack your trash out. We love a good Trail Snack and White Claw – but after they are consumed, can and wrappers go back in the pack. It’s that simple! You can read more about the principles behind Leave No Trace here.

Trash-free trails are better for everyone. Pack it in, pack it out!

Have you joined any local conservation groups? Let us know in the comments!


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