Litter Cleanups

a group of volunteers with full trash bags

Have you ever picked up a discarded bottle, food wrapper or cigarette butt while walking in a forest preserve? Then you’re already a volunteer! From casually discarded cans to intentionally dumped tires, every bit of trash left in the Forest Preserves hurts our natural areas and the plants and animals that depend on them. Whether you want to help clean up once, every once in a while, or make a long-term commitment to your favorite picnic grove, trail or shoreline—we’re here to support you or your group.

On this page:

a volunteer picking up trash near a pond in the forest preserves

Individual Litter Cleanups

Our Select Organized Litter Obliterators (SOLO) opportunity is for anyone who wants to clean up at a forest preserve, any time from sunrise to sunset. Head out solo, with a partner or small group to help remove litter and improve the health and beauty of your local natural areas—and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature.

Questions, suggestions or concerns? Contact

a group of volunteers standing around the trash they collected from the forest preserves

Group Litter Cleanups

Our Litter Obliterators group cleanup opportunity is perfect for groups of friends, families, or organized groups like service organizations, faith communities, schools or corporate groups. We’ll support you with gloves and bags, and quickly find you a match for a date and location of your choice.

  • Schedule a cleanup at any time at almost any forest preserve through a quick matching and confirmation process.
  • We deliver gloves and bags to a pickup site near you, and explain how to coordinate a clean up.
  • Your group leader organizes and leads the cleanup itself, including arranging supervision and chaperones (if needed).

Ready to Sign Up? Sign up for the Litter Obliterators opportunity on our Online Volunteer System. We will reach out to you to confirm date, location and supply delivery site.

Questions, suggestions or concerns? Contact

a young girl picks up trash in a picnic grove
Morgan joined the Adopt-A-Site program at only six years old.


Commit to keeping your favorite picnic grove, trail or shoreline clean throughout the year. Anyone willing to complete at least eight cleanups a year can take part: Individuals, groups of friends, families, or organized groups like service organizations, faith communities, schools or corporate groups.

To honor your commitment, we’ll support you by providing:

  • An Adopt-A-Site kit with everything you need for your cleanups, including trash bags and gloves.
  • A sign recognizing you at the site after you complete your eight cleanups.
  • Collection and disposal of filled garbage bags and other debris cleared from your site.
  • Necessary permits and safety information.
  • Ongoing access to knowledgeable staff.

Ready to Sign Up? Sign up for the Adopt-A-Site opportunity on our Online Volunteer System. We will reach out to connect you with an available location.

Questions, suggestions or concerns? Contact Joanna Huyck at or 773-631-1790.

The four members of the Rimmalapudi family at their Adopt-A-Site forest preserve.
Photo by Kris DaPra.

Hear from Litter Cleanup Volunteers

The Rimmalapudi Family helps clean up at a local forest preserve as part of the Adopt-A-Site program.

Venkat: We’ve lived in Chicagoland for about 20 years, so we’re very familiar with the forest preserves. Occasionally we’d see volunteers working, which prompted me to look at your website for ways to get involved, and that’s when I found the Adopt-A-Site program. We want to be good examples for our kids as they grow up, and for them to understand what it means to be responsible. My older son just recently joined Cub Scouts and volunteering is part of being a good scout. He is more enthusiastic about these activities when we do them together as a family.

Revathy: It’s also about teaching them what is best for the earth, cultivating good habits and teaching them the importance of giving back to the community. Plus, they love being out in nature. There’s so much to explore out here and I think it’s just the best way to learn.  

Venkat: Being outdoors is really important for kids. It’s easy to put them in front of a screen, and maybe that’s fine for the four months where we have challenging weather, but then we have eight months where I think we should be outside as much as possible doing something hands-on.   

Revathy: When the boys are older, I want them to remember the good times we had here, and to pass on good habits to the next generation. The environment is a common thing that every community shares, so it’s important that they see their role in caring for it.  

Venkat: I said to my boys this morning, “If nobody cleans up, the trash will pile up. What do you think about that?” and they said, “That’s not good because there will be raccoons all over the place!”