“Green Your Yard, Green Your Wallet.” Sound like a good deal to you? Chicago Sustainable Backyards is betting on it by offering Chicagoans a financial incentive to combat climate change and stormwater runoff starting with their backyards. As stormwater runoff is one of the leading issues plaguing cities today—from the damage it causes to our water sources to the heartbreak and financial ruin brought on by home flooding—instead of a costly revamp of the ‘grey,’ conventional sewer system, the Windy City is looking to Mother Nature for stormwater management solutions, and it’s asking citizens to help employ them.
To encourage homeowners to become part of the solution, Chicago Sustainable Backyards was created in 2010 through a partnership between the City of Chicago and Center for Neighborhood Technology. The program offers residents rebates of up to 50% on sustainable backyard purchases, such as trees, native plants, compost bins, and rain barrels. Along with helping residents save money, the rebate program also gives a green boost to the local economy.
Moreover, to help Chicagoans sink their roots into green practices, Chicago Sustainable Backyards also provides educational workshops throughout the summer, with lessons on topics such as how to plant and care for their gardens, composting, and installing rain barrels. Thus far, champions for the program can be found all throughout the city, particularly at farmers markets where informational booths have been set up to get the word out further.
The benefits of bringing nature back to Chicago are far reaching, well beyond the economic impact. By re-greening their environment, residents are improving air quality, reducing waste and stormwater runoff, creating habitat, and fostering a greater sense of community—a green-green win!
Images © sustainablebackyards.org