Is Chicago’s Green River Really All That Green?

The month is March, and It’s about that time of year where the city of Chicago, Illinois dyes their river green to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. This tradition seems controversial in the eyes of many, so a main question remains in my mind. Since this practice used to be done with chemicals being dumped into the water to create that colorful effect, is the green river of Chicago today really all that green?

Well, the answer is a little complicated. According to Mental Floss, back in 1962, when the city first started dyeing the river for St. Patrick’s day, a chemical was used to keep the water green for the public’s amusement. Year after year, the city repeated this, each time using many pounds of dye to dump into the massive waterway.

Luckily, not long after this practice began, environmentalists forced the city of Chicago to change their practice somewhat because of the realization that the chemicals being used were polluting the water. Once the city complied, a new vegetable based dye was created and was used from there on out.

While this change is positive, is it really necessary to change the color of a river just for the public’s attention? If the the city of Chicago can come up with a type of dye that benefits the Chicago River yet still creates a colorful green hue, that could be extremely beneficial. If they can’t, is it time to think about the end of this tradition?