2.697 Million people call Chicago their home, and about 48.9 Million visit the city every year, according to the Census Bureau. Chicago is a bustling hub where the demand for convenient hydration intersects with an opportunity for environmental leadership. The city’s potential to reduce reliance on single-use plastic bottled water and make a significant impact on the plastic crisis is immense.
If just 15% of people living in Chicago chose to refill, that’s 404,550 residents.
The average person uses 156 single-use plastic bottled water.
Over one year 63,109,800 single-use plastic water bottles would be avoided.
159gCO2e/single-use plastic bottle
10 Million Kg of CO2e would have been saved
There's been a concerted push to reduce single-use plastics—a significant source of pollution in urban environments. Discarded plastic water bottles clutter our streets, waterways, and head tol our landfills, taking hundreds of years to decompose. Recognizing the urgency of this issue, various stakeholders in Chicago have initiated programs to make drinking water more accessible, thereby encouraging the use of reusable containers.
The city's water refill initiatives stand at the intersection of practicality and environmental stewardship. From the halls of academia at Loyola University Chicago to the expansive terminals of O’Hare and Midway Airports, and extending into the heart of community parks and centers, there’s a growing network of water refill stations.
In this guide, we delve into the locations and advantages of these water refill stations, illustrating how easy and beneficial it is for residents and visitors alike to access clean water and support Chicago's green initiatives. Join us as we navigate through the city's landscape, highlighting the spots where you can refill, refresh, and reduce your environmental footprint—one refill at a time.
Loyola University Chicago's Conservation Initiatives
Nestled along the shores of the magnificent Lake Michigan, Loyola University Chicago is uniquely positioned to enjoy and protect one of the region's most vital natural resources. With the lake providing a stunning backdrop to the campus, it serves as a constant reminder of the university's responsibility to preserve and cherish this vast body of fresh water. The university's close proximity to the lake underscores its commitment to water conservation and environmental stewardship, serving as a living laboratory for sustainability practices.
Single-use Bottled Water Ban
In a landmark decision for sustainability, the Student Environmental Alliance and Loyola's student government collaborated to ban the sale of plastic water bottles in 2012. This bold move aimed at confronting the privatization of water resources and mitigating plastic waste has led to the complete phase-out of disposable water bottles in all campus vending, dining, and catering services by the end of 2013.
To facilitate this transition and ensure accessible hydration options, Loyola has installed water bottle filling stations across campus. These stations pump clean, safe water from Lake Michigan, enabling students and faculty to easily refill their reusable bottles for free. These stations help in cutting down plastic waste, and they also provide the university community with a constant supply of fresh drinking water, reinforcing healthy and eco-friendly habits.
Citywide efforts to increase water station accessibility
Elkay and City Partnership
In a collaborative effort to further sustainability goals, Elkay has partnered with the city of Chicago to donate 101 ezH2O bottle filling stations. These stations are a significant boon for the city's hydration infrastructure, enabling citizens to easily refill their water bottles on the go.
This initiative particularly targets parks, public buildings, and community centers on the South and West sides, areas that can greatly benefit from improved access to drinking water. It's a step towards equity in resources and underscores the importance of community health.
In alignment with these efforts, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has emphasized that providing clean, drinkable water to all neighborhoods remains a high priority for her administration. This partnership is a testament to the city's dedication to water accessibility and driving resources and attention to communities that need them the most.
The initiative also reflects Elkay's commitment to serving its founding city and contributing to a healthier, more sustainable Chicago. Alongside, the non-profit Elevate plays a critical role, designing and implementing programs that aim to ensure everyone has access to essential services like clean water.
A notable aspect of the donation is that each of the water filling stations comes with a lifetime supply of filters. This ensures that the water remains clean and safe to drink for years to come, highlighting the sustainable and long-term vision of the initiative.
Water Refill Stations at Chicago Airports
For travelers passing through Chicago's airports, hydration is a key concern. Recognizing this, water refill stations have been made available post-security, allowing passengers to refill their empty bottles that had to be cleared at security checkpoints.
These airport refill stations are more than a convenience; they're part of a broader strategy to reduce landfill waste. With each station filling over 100,000 bottles per year, the impact on waste reduction is significant, aligning with the Chicago Department of Aviation's (CDA) efforts to minimize environmental impact.
For ease of access, passengers can locate these refill stations using the airport's interactive map. This user-friendly tool is essential for anyone looking to stay hydrated while also being conscious of their environmental footprint.
Locating Water Refill Stations
Loyola Campus Maps for Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses
Loyola University provides water refill stations across its campuses. Students, faculty, and visitors can access these maps online to find the nearest station, ensuring that staying hydrated is convenient and environmentally friendly.
Interactive map for airport refill stations
For those traveling through Chicago's airports, O'Hare or Midway, interactive maps are available to help locate water refill stations after passing security. These maps can be accessed via airport websites or informational kiosks within the terminals.
Chicago Park District’s and community centers locations
The Chicago Park District and various community centers are also equipped with water refill stations.
Apps that locate nearby water refill stations
Mobile applications like Tap and Refill can direct users to the nearest water refill station in Chicago. These apps often use GPS location services to provide real-time directions and are updated regularly with new stations.
The Environmental and Community Impact
The availability of water refill stations in Chicago can significantly contribute to the reduction of plastic waste and litter. By encouraging the use of reusable bottles, these initiatives directly decrease the number of single-use plastics that end up in landfills or as litter in natural spaces.
Easy access to clean drinking water through refill stations promotes better hydration habits among Chicagoans. This has a profound positive impact on public health, especially in communities that previously had limited access to clean water.
The presence of these stations also serves an educational purpose, raising awareness about the importance of water conservation and environmental sustainability. It conveys that every individual action can contribute to a larger environmental benefit.
There are ongoing plans to expand the network of water refill stations throughout Chicago. This will ensure even greater access and convenience for all city residents and visitors, further entrenching the culture of sustainability. Looking forward, there are ample opportunities for public-private partnerships and community-led initiatives to increase the number of refill stations. These collaborations can amplify the reach and impact of water accessibility programs.
The development of water refill stations aligns with broader sustainability goals and environmental policies in Chicago. It is anticipated that future urban planning and development will integrate these facilities as a standard feature of public spaces.
There is a collective opportunity for Chicago's residents and visitors to use these refill stations, reinforcing the city's dedication to sustainability. Each refill at a hydration station is a step toward a greener, cleaner Chi-Town.