Today’s City Club luncheon featured Sadhu Johnston, Mayor Daley’s commissioner of environment. Johnston speaks with enthusiasm and energy about the “Greening of Chicago” and the implementation of Daley’s vision as the greenest city in America. The greening process helps create an environment that is not only friendly to the planet, but from a practical standpoint, a place people (both residents and tourists) want to be. Chicago is leading by example and has been recognized world-wide for its green initiatives. Being geographically adjacent to a leader is a good thing for those of us who want to learn to be greener. I went to hear the environment commissioner speak and wanted to share what I learned.

Johnston outlined what the city is doing or has already done, and then provided five things each of us can do. Just a few of Chicago’s green initiatives include

? Planting more than 500,000 trees

? Installing 75 miles of street medians for flowers and other plants

? Putting the first green roof on a municipal building in the country

? Establishing the Chicago Center for Green Technology (a great field trip, by the way)

? Converting 11,000 vehicles to hybrid fuels

? Redeveloping brown fields

? And much more, including incentives for businesses to seek green solutions in building or rehabbing, car-sharing, renewable energy solutions, and using the city’s purchasing power to create green-collar jobs

Simple Acts, Large Impact

I went to the luncheon hoping to learn what ordinary citizens could do immediately to reduce consumption and impact on the environment, and Johnston (who practices what he preaches) recommended five very simple suggestions:

? replace 4 light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs

? turn off the tap when brushing teeth

? replace at least one car trip a month with walking, bicycling, or public transit

? plant or care for a tree by watering, mulching, and removing litter

? replace plastic shopping bags with reusable shopping bags

For many more tips and ideas, see the Earth Day Environmental Pledge Card on the City’s Web site,

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