Posts By: Christy

Red, White, Blue and Green!

Posted on July 5, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

First, ditch the disposable party ware.  But if you must, use things that can be washed and reused.  Clean them up and reuse those plates, cups and tableware at the next gathering. 

Next, reuse those decorations.  Take the time to store and save them, or donate them, which helps to save a bit of unneeded trash. 

And finally, use large water containers with reusable cups and buy beverages in glass or aluminum, which are made of natural materials and can be recycled or will biodegrade.  Believe it or not, your plastics are not getting recycled even if you put them in a recycling container, and they are definitely not being reused. 

The best idea, get outside, for nature’s sake!  These are simple ideas, easy commitments, and habits worthy to help our good ole’ USA and beyond.  Happy Independence Day from the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a problem.

Posted on June 27, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a problem.  That includes anything you plug in or need batteries to operate, especially computers, TVs, cell phones, stereos, etc.  That’s because they contain some form of harmful materials such as beryllium, cadmium, mercury and lead. These materials might be trace elements, but when added up in volume, the threat to the environment is significant.

Besides adding harmful elements to the environment, improper disposal of e-waste is a recycling opportunity lost. Almost all e-waste contains some form of recyclable material, including plastic, glass and metals. It is important that any e-waste processor is fully certified in safe destruction and follow certified documented procedures to safely dispose of electronic waste.

Ask questions before you recycle! Some unscrupulous recyclers ship e-waste overseas where it is disposed of improperly, posing a threat to the environment and its’ people.  Please don’t leave your e-waste at curbside or place it in a dumpster either.  In McHenry County there are several recycling locations, and keep in mind, any fees you pay are to off-set costs.

Super Simple Travel Tips

Posted on June 13, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Driving? Avoid peak travel times. Traveling on off-peak days can prevent you hitting congested highways and sitting in traffic.  

Flying? Avoid layovers. Frequent takeoffs and landings use more fuel, and the pollution emitted on night flights has a more detrimental impact on the climate. 

Pack light. Extra weight causes airplane and cars to lose efficiency and use more fuel to travel. Leave the kitchen sink at home. 

Be an Ecotourist.  Whether going far or near, add into your trip adventures that include learning about the intricacies of our natural world and/or advocacy to protect the environment and local communities.  It will make you feel good, and you will be contributing instead of taking.  Now that’s making a memorable trip.  

Environmental Defenders, municipalities try to keep up with demand for TV recycling

Posted on June 13, 2016 by - In the News

Copyright Northwest Herald, June 11, 2016 http://www.nwherald.com/2016/05/25/environmental-defenders-municipalities-try-to-keep-up-with-demand-for-tv-recycling/afpr6z5/

 

When Sue Jensen used to see TVs dumped on random curbs or in Dumpsters, she thought people were putting them there because they were unaware Illinois had banned electronic devices in landfills in 2012.

Four years after the ban began, Jensen no longer believes ignorance is the issue.

“I think TVs are on the curb now – or in the ditch, or in the river – because people are frustrated there’s nowhere else for them to put it,” Jensen said.

Jensen, a board member of the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, sees firsthand how much the demand for recycling of electronics – particularly TVs – has exploded in recent months.

She and Ken Santowski, another Defenders board member who also is on the Lakewood Village Board, have led the effort to give McHenry County residents a place to recycle those devices.

A series of events has contributed to the spike in demand, including the fact that a Spring Grove vendor who previously collaborated with many municipalities went out of business.

Meanwhile, stores such as Best Buy that used to accept TVs have stopped because state law dictates they cannot charge for the service.

The Defenders accept electronics at their monthly recycling drives, charging 50 cents a pound (up to $40) for TVs and computer monitors, which is allowed because the organization is a 501(c)(3) charity.

Santowski provides trucks and other resources from the company he co-owns, Elgin’s Chicago Logistic Services, and the events are run by volunteers. The Defenders do not profit – the collected fees cover the cost of hauling and recycling.

“A lot of times, people just assume – why else would we be doing it if we weren’t making money?” Jensen said. “That’s why we are the only ones left doing it: We’re doing it because we care about the environment.”

The Defenders always have worked to fill a niche for recycling that’s not being offered elsewhere, Jensen said, but the influx of TVs got so huge last last year that the group reached a “crisis point” and suspended its monthly drives for three months to regroup.

The first three drives of 2016 yielded 34,000 pounds of TVs, they said.

Although municipalities also cannot charge for electronics recycling, several have worked with trash collectors or other companies to arrange spring cleaning events, only to see the events get swamped.

Cary hosted a recycling drive for residents on April 23 and anticipated double the 70 vehicles it served at last year’s event. The event ended up serving 315 vehicles, mostly with TVs, before the line had to be cut off with dozens still waiting.

“It’s pent-up demand is what it is,” Village Administrator Chris Clark said. “We’re talking about a lot of very, very large TVs, not just small televisions or monitors. … It becomes an issue of safety.”

In McHenry, a May 21 event yielded about 30,000 pounds of TVs, nearly double its collection from last year, Public Works Director Jon Schmitt said.

Algonquin Township, which hosts a monthly drive for residents, had to institute a limit of one TV or monitor per household per month. At its April drive, Township Highway Commissioner Bob Miller said the line stretched down Route 14 from the Country Gas station in Crystal Lake to the Thornton’s in Cary.

“What happens is, you open the door, and my good golly, they just keep coming,” Miller said.

Those running recycling drives are hoping the state will come up with a better solution to ensure that all residents have a place to properly recycle old TVs.

For now, the Defenders are continuing their monthly efforts around the county. The group’s drives include one that occurred Saturday in Harvard and one planned for July 9 in Algonquin, and it is working with McHenry Township to host regular drives there.

“My goal is that everyone will finally get rid of all their TVs and we can go back to collecting light bulbs and Styrofoam,” Santowski said.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Posted on June 6, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Did you know that nutrient pollution is a major threat to water quality? Excess nitrogen and phosphorus carried in runoff from farm fields, wastewater plants and urban areas can fuel algae blooms that decrease oxygen needed by aquatic plants and animals. In the Gulf of Mexico, nutrients washed down river have created a “dead zone” that stretches for thousands of square miles. At home, nutrient pollution can also lower property values, hinder recreation, and degrade drinking water quality.

What can you do?  Understand the importance of funding studies such as The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, which guides state efforts to improve water quality at home and downstream by reducing nitrogen and phosphorus levels in our waterways.  Be an educated consumer and/or farmer and learn about the problem.  Pass along your knowledge, and support your local watershed group to influence policy to make your voice heard.

Prairie Planting Events

Posted on May 23, 2016 by - Community Events

Through the Friends of Hackmatack we’ve received hundreds of prairie plants, compliments of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, that need to get into the ground. Can you help plant them?

If you are available, please help us out at the following planting events.  Please wear long pants and sturdy shoes. Bring a water bottle, gloves and your favorite shovel and hand trowel. We’ll have water and snacks.

 

Here are some scheduled planting dates you are invited to join:

  • Thurs. May 26, 5 – 8 p.m. planting at O’Brien Prairie (SW corner O’Brien Rd & Rt. 47, south of Hebron, IL at the roadside rest area).  If you can only come for part of the time, we would still appreciate your help.  Please email envirodefmc@gmail.com to let us know if you can join us.
  • Sat. June 4, 10 am-Noon, planting at the Defenders’ property (meet at the Soil and Water Conservation District Building, 2222 S. Dean St., Woodstock).  Our members’ Pancakes on the Prairie event is that morning at 9 am.   We’re hoping you will come and enjoy the breakfast and then stay after to help with the planting.   Reservations are requested to help know how much food to buy. So please email envirodefmc@gmail.com to RSVP if you plan to attend the breakfast before the planting.  If you can’t get there for breakfast, but would like to help with the planting, please arrive by 10 a.m.

Thanks in advance for your help in providing monarchs and other pollinators the habitat they need to survive!

46% Nuclear, 44% Coal, 2% Gas, 8% Wind

Posted on May 19, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

When you use electricity in your home or business, do you know what fuel is used to produce that energy?  That information might help give some understanding to why it’s important to our health to continue to conserve and move towards renewables.  It can also help in your decisions as a consumer.  The impact on our natural systems, whether positive or negative, is an important consideration in the production of power.

In Illinois 46% of electricity is generated by nuclear power, 44% is coming from coal and 2% from gas.  The remaining 8% is from wind.  As a consumer you create the demand for a product. Think about how efforts by lots of us to conserve 50% of the energy we use today could impact the demand for electricity.  Think further about the damaging waste it produces.  How about turning to wind and solar and away from carbon fuels and nuclear.  It’s one step, one small decision at a time that changes the tide.

Spring Garage Sale

Posted on May 17, 2016 by - Community Events

The garage is getting full!

Shopping starts Thursday, May 19 through Saturday, May 21 from 9am until 4pm at the Algonquin Township Road District garage, 3702 U.S. Route 14, between Crystal Lake and Cary (drive back to the beige garage on the right).

Lots of treasures this year, including a battery powered lawn mower, small aquariums, Wedgwood plates, Disney character collectible ornaments, and old school desk, beautiful side chair, lawn chairs, wood file cabinets, pictures & frames, vintage SciFi magazines, and lots more!

The Defenders have been involved with diverting things from the landfills for over 45 years. Doing a garage sale is a form of recycling. Buying second hand items instead of new ones keeps things out of the landfills, saves you money, and supports a McHenry County non-profit.

Go Weeds!

Posted on May 12, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

One man’s weed is another man’s best friend. Instead of trying to rid our gardens and lawns of any stray stem or sprout of weeds, we might do well to live and let live. At least, that’s the case for a handful of weeds that boast a bevy of benefits, from attracting pollinators to repelling pests, and fertilizing soil.

Dandelions attract good bugs like honeybees and repel pests like army worms.

Clover has a special ability. Its leaves pull nitrogen from the air, fixing the nutrient in its roots and releasing it to fertilize the soil.

Wild violets may look dainty, but they’re actually little powerhouses that can withstand drought. and spread as ground covers in areas too shady for grass to thrive.

Ground ivy makes a great, low-maintenance ground cover. Its tiny flowers add a delightful touch to the yard, but the best part of this mighty weed is its ability to repel common garden pests.

And then there’s Purslane which breaks up hard soil and stabilizes soil moisture.

A change in thinking about weeds is a change in thinking about chemicals, a positive for the environment.

Member Event: Solar Energy Tour

Posted on May 5, 2016 by - Member Events

You’re Invited!

Defenders’ members are invited to attend one or both of two tours on May 15th to learn about solar installations and the benefits of renewable energy.

The first tour, beginning at 3 p.m., will be led by Kim Hankins, Sustainability Director at MCC and Defenders’ Board Member.  The tour will include a look at the array of solar panels at MCC’s Shah Center, at 4100 W. Shamrock Lane, McHenry, as well as a display of real-time data showing the energy being produced and the resulting savings in energy costs.  MCC has been honored with the “College Leadership and Sustainability Award” from the Illinois Green Energy Network, partially as a result of this installation.

For the second tour at 4:30 p.m., Pat and Terry Dieckhoff have invited us to learn about solar energy at their home in Crystal Lake, where they have solar panels installed on their roof.  They will point out that the cost of solar installation is cheaper than it has ever been and the 30% federal tax credit reduces the cost even more.  You can learn more about their installation on the Illinois Solar Energy Association website www.illinoissolar.org.  Click on the Solar Ambassador link.

To help us in planning for refreshments, reservations are requested, but not required, at envirodefmc@gmail.com or at 815-338-0393. Join us on this tour to see how you can save money on your electric bill and reduce your carbon footprint!

*This is a Members Only event. If you’re not currently a member, we’d love to have you join us – Click Here!