A climate action evanston program

End Light Pollution

Light IF, WHEN, and WHERE you need it. Keep it amber-orange-red and minimized. Brighter isn’t safer.

More about this key action Item

most recent version posted on:
February 29, 2024

Excess lighting isn't good for people or wildlife.

It stresses us and wildlife, burns energy, and contributes to the decline of insect populations and to bird deaths at windows.

Solutions are EASY. Use light IF, WHEN,and WHERE you need it. Keep it orange-red and minimized. Brighter isn’t safer.

  • Turn off at 11pm, or earlier when not needed. Avoid decorative or accent lighting. Use dimmers when possible.
  • Use motion sensors or timers.
  • Shade or aim outdoor lights to where you want it.
  • Use lights on the amber-orange-red range,and not white-blue. Redder the better for fireflies in their summer mating season (or turn off outside lights).
  • Pull your blinds, drapes and shutters to avoid attracting wildlife to windows.
  • Use phones or flashlights (preferably with red light), rather than static lights.


Over-illumination can make way-finding and nighttime tasks less safe. Your eyes take too long to adjust when there’s too much contrast between brightly lit and darker areas. See photo.

@DarkSky International. Brighter isn't safer.

Human Health

Research suggests that artificial light at night can negatively affect human health, increasing risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, breast cancer and more.

@DarkSky International

Birds and Nature

More than a thousand birds fatally hit the windows at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago on one night October 2023. A study of McCormick place estimated halving lighted window area would reduce collisions by 11× in spring and 6× in fall. Bird mortality could be reduced by ∼60% by decreasing lights to minimum levels. Bright lights at night attract and confuse birds, especially when they are flying in stormy or foggy weather.  They draw them lower, toward windows.

Many animal rely on natural cycles of daylight and darkness to trigger and regulate behaviors such as hunting, hiding from predators, mating, nesting, navigating, and communicating. Bright lights confuse migratory birds, drawing them toward fatal window hazards and causing them to expend precious energy needed for migration. Resident birds also are affected: it can increase their breeding failure. Insects throng to outdoor lighting, where they are easy pickings for predators that kill and eat them at such unnaturally high levels it is impacting their overall populations.

Save Energy and Carbon too.

@DarkSky International

Plant Health

Plants too depend on natural cycles of daylight and darkness to regulate processes such as flowering, leaf drop, and growth form.

Mayflies @DarkSky International

See the new City of Evanston Ordinance about Lighting in our resources below.

Reducing outdoor lighting is one of the six items in the Pollinator Pledge.

Improve habitat for birds and pollinators when you Take the Pollinator Pledge.

TAKE ACTION: Share our doorhanger to spread the word about outdoor lighting.

Email Habitat@NaturalHabitatEvanston.Org for materials to share.

Door Hanger on Outdoor Lighting
Ask us for the NHE door hanger to share out: NaturalHabitat@climateactionevanston.org


Take our Pollinator Pledge

Six steps toward a biodiverse, sustainable yard (plus make your windows bird-friendly)

Take the Pollinator PledgeTake the Pollinator Pledge

Our Pollinator Pledge yard signs

Pollinator Pledge yard signs

Donate for a Pollinator Pledge signDonate for a Pollinator Pledge sign

Our Artificial Lighting Doorhanger

Artificial Lighting Doorhanger, NHE. Share at brightly lit buildings to explain why it matters to dim lights.

Go to a pdf of our doorhangerGo to a pdf of our doorhanger

Our Eco-Friendly Yard and Garden Landscaping flyer

Our short guide to get your garden buzzing with life — attracting butterflies, bees, fireflies and birds.

Access pdf file of flyerAccess pdf file of flyer

Gardening that Matters PPT

NHE presentation to North Shore Senior Center tuesday club. Variations used for other groups. March 2023

Check out the PowerPointCheck out the PowerPoint

Our Natural Habitat Newsletter Signup

Sign up for the NHE Newsletter

NHE Newsletter SignupNHE Newsletter Signup

Transitioning from Turf PPT

Presentation on Transitioning from Turf (Powerpoint), January 2023. Touches on the issues with turf, why native plants, why leave leaves, concerns about neonicotinoids and outdoor lighting.

Transitioning From Turf PowerpointTransitioning From Turf Powerpoint

Transitioning from Turf presentation to FLOW

Transitioning from Turf presentation to FLOW (Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, Columbus, Ohio) lead by Leslie Shad, NHE Lead. DIscusses the issues with turf, why native plants and why leave leaves, the concern about neonicotinoids, and how to navigate outdoor lighting.

Transitioning from Turf Video PresentationTransitioning from Turf Video Presentation

Gardening that Matters video presentation

Gardening that Matters. Get Started or Enhance your Native Garden.  March 2023 presentation to North Shore Senior Center's Tuesday Club. A simple way to take action for climate, community healthand biodiversity: Swap out your lawn for native plants.  Reconsidering theculture of lawns. Why it matters, steps to prioritize, how to get started, andhow to amplify the change. Leslie Shad of Natural Habitat Evanston presents.

See videoSee video

Bird-Friendly Solutions (PPT)

Bird-Friendly Evanston powerpoint on solutions to Bird-Window fatalities. 2023

See the PPTSee the PPT

Evanston Lighting Ordinance

Evanston passed a lighting ordinance in December 2022 limiting outdoor lighting brillance and requiring shading.

Read OrdinanceRead Ordinance

Do Bug Zappers Work? Yeah—About As Well As Any Other Indiscriminate Wildlife Slaughter

NY Times, June 2023. Do Bug Zappers Work?

Read the articleRead the article

Fix Existing Windows: Fish and Wildlife Service

Threats to Birds: Collisions-Buildings & Glass. Details solutions, including comparative costs per square foot.

Read moreRead more

NY Times Why Do You Still Have Lightning Bugs? Ours Are All Gone.

New York Times ‘Why Do You Still Have Lightning Bugs? Ours Are All Gone.’ April 17, 2023 By Margaret Renkl,

Read ArticleRead Article

For New Buildings: Evanston's Bird-Friendly Ordinance

Bird friendly design strategies to reduce bird collisions and death, including consideration of overall architectural design to reduce hazards, the use of bird friendly materials, especially glass, exterior and interior lighting provisions and consideration of site planning and landscape design to reduce potentially hazardous situations." "

See the City GuideSee the City Guide

You're Needed! Here Are Some Involvement Opportunities

Donating to Climate Action Evanston and earmarking your donation for Natural Habitat Evanston. You can further earmark your donation to one of our initiatives.

Take the Pollinator and Bird Pledge

take the pledgetake the pledge

Join our Pollinator Pledge and let the city and landscapers know we care about sustainable yards. Take an optional yard sign to spread the word.

Join the Natural Habitat Evanston Newsletter


Stay updated on green goings on in Evanston, workdays, advocacy issues and more.

Buffalo Grass Anyone?

Buffalo GrassBuffalo Grass

$25/bag to local residents (pickup; no shipping). We also have some $5 seed packets of bottlebrush and little bluestem grass. While supplies last. Emails should include your phone number and which species you are requesting. Pay by check payable to Citizens’ Greener Evanston at pickup.

Volunteer at plantings and invasive removals: parks and schools

Outdoor workdaysOutdoor workdays

Help at outdoor workdays

Join No Mow May

No Mow MayNo Mow May

Rethink how you Lawn

Sign on: Northwestern students Petition for Bird-Friendly Films at Mudd Library

Sign onSign on

Northwestern students Petition for Bird-Friendly Films at Mudd Library. Mudd Library accounts for over 14% of bird deaths and injuries on campus each year. Applying patterned window film to a portion of the building would dramatically reduce collisions that are fatal to birds.

More Ways to Volunteer: Spread the word

Email usEmail us

Share out brochures, doorhangers, or flyers. Collect a bunch of materials on the 5th Ward Tree Giveaway, Pollinator Pledge, Eco landscaping, Yard care, Light pollution, Leaf blowers are an eco-disaster, or Buffalo Grass.

Join our Facebook Group

NHE FB GroupNHE FB Group

Get updates and share your thoughts on our FB Group. You can also check out our FB page here https://www.facebook.com/NaturalHabitatEvanston

More yard signs: Mowing, Leaves, Leafblowers?

2-Sided Yard Sign2-Sided Yard Sign

Just want to spread the word on certain steps? Mow Less-Leave Leaves (2-sided yard sign) or Leafblowers sign

Join the Isabella Woods Newsletter

Isabella Woods NewsletterIsabella Woods Newsletter

Get news the next time there is a threat to Isabella Woods. (Only sent when there is news.)

Certify with National Wildlife Federation

Certify now with NWFCertify now with NWF

Provide Food, Water, Shelter, Places to Raise Young and Sustainable Steps for wildlife. It helps Evanston maintain its NWF Community-wide Wildlife Habitat certification.