Topic: Environmental Tips

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.  

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.

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.

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.

Green Mother’s Day Gifts

Posted on May 5, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Think about these planet-friendly ideas for Mother’s Day gifts that will please both your mom and Mother Earth.

One good idea is organic and/or fair trade chocolates and wines.  Or maybe  a year of locally raised fruits and veggies from you local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm.  Better yet, make your mom a member.

Then there’s always the gift of time.  Skip the stuff and give your mom a break by volunteering to run errands, prepare a healthy dinner or tend the garden.

To compliment whatever gift you choose, make a card out of what you  have on hand;  old magazines, photos or calendars.  Or you could go with a card made of plantable seed paper.  Bury the card and when the paper biodegrades, the seeds grow into wildflowers.

Whatever your gift, remember to add your own spoken message that expresses how much your mom means to you.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the special women who care for us and our world.

Thank you, kids!

Posted on April 28, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Yes, kids just keep it simple.  Here are some of their ideas about how to care for our earth.

  • Eat REAL FOOD no more processed junk/ snack foods! It is better for your body and for our Earth!
  • Don’t waste food.  Transporting food from the field, to the processing plant, to the grocery store, then to your house takes a lot of energy and creates a lot of carbon emissions.
  • Ask your parents to turn off the car while waiting in line to pick you up.  10% of all gas is wasted idling.  After only 10 seconds you use less gas turning the ignition off.
  • Eat locally grown food and don’t burn trash.  Try to drive less to save gas and reduce pollution.  Ride our bike to school, sports or work (for your mom and dad).  Use an electric car.  Walk to school.

All these ideas were submitted from the children who live in the United States and were posted on www.earthsaversclubforkids.com. Thank you, kids!

Thank You Friends!

Posted on April 27, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Take a breath of fresh air, and receive it as a thank you gift from our earth.  The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County wants to thank all the organizations and individuals in our community that contribute to a healthy environment.  What we do here in our own backyards does ripple out into the world, literally.  Every small action, each conversation, the policies, the art, the gardens, the community groups, the non-profits, the governments, the schools, the churches, all the advocates for good clean healthy soil, water and air. You are building value each and every day, and it is important work.  But today, just after Earth Day, take a moment to be grateful for earth’s resources and say thank you to yourself for doing good and caring.

Get Smarter and Happier in 30 Minutes a Day

Posted on April 20, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

The more we connect to nature, the smarter, healthier and happier we are. Getting outside even makes us nicer and more likely to clean up the planet.

Unfortunately, most of us spend the majority of our days indoors. Yikes!  In honor of Earth Day and Spring, challenge yourself to get outside for at least 30 minutes a day for 30 days and see how you feel.  

It’s easy to add a dose of green to your daily routine: Just head to the nearest park, trail or garden (or even your own backyard) and take the time to observe nature’s wonders. At home, work or play, your nature fix is closer than you think.

Here’s to our health!