Topic: Environmental Tips

The Power is in the Purchase

Posted on August 15, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Recycling is important, but to make real and significant impacts on our environment, we need to reduce our waste.  And, of course, the power is in the purchase.

At first, maybe you thought buying things in plastic was a good thing because it could be recycled.  But in actuality plastic is being collected for recycling, but what is being recycled is very very low.  There just isn’t a big market for recycled plastic.

So instead, when you can, choose products that don’t include plastic, have lesser amounts, and better yet, none at all.  Chose products made from natural materials like wood, metal, paper, cotton.  For bottled drinks, refuse plastic and consider aluminum which can be recycled over and over again.  There is a good market for recycled aluminum.  Need more?  Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours.

It’s BYOBag month in McHenry County! Tip #1

Posted on August 8, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag

Need reasons why it’s important to choose reusable bags?  Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year. The cost to recycle plastic bags outweighs their value, so most recycling facilities will not take them. Instead of being recycled, they are thrown out with the rest of the trash.  Plastic bags make up more than 10% of washed-up debris that pollutes the U.S. coastline. Discarded plastic bags have turned up as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as the Falkland Islands.   Finally, the average reusable bag has a lifespan equal to that of more than 700 disposable plastic bags.  One person using reusable bags over their lifetime would remove more than 22,000 plastic bags from the environment.  Isn’t that an even better incentive?

No to Driving, Yes to Biking and Walking

Posted on July 21, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

You may not be able to reduce global warming, end pollution and save endangered species single-handed, but by choosing to live an earth-friendly lifestyle you can do a lot every day to help achieve those goals.

The single most import thing you can do to for the environment is to leave your car at home.  Every time you do you reduce air pollution, lower greenhouse gas emissions, improve your health and save money.  Walk or ride a bicycle for short trips, or take public transportation for longer ones. Research has shown that people who use public transportation are healthier than those who do not, and families that use public transportation can save enough money annually to cover their food costs for the year.

When you do drive, take the few minutes needed to make sure your engine is well maintained and your tires properly inflated.  Every little bit helps.

BYOB Month in Our County

Posted on July 20, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

It’s official.  August is  BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag – month in our county.  Join in, and start bringing your own bags whenever you shop anywhere;  the grocery store, pharmacy, for clothing, hardware, whatever, and get into the habit of carrying reusable shopping bags, both big and small. 

Challenge yourself to reduce the use of plastic bags by declining them when shopping, and then watch them disappear in your home. 

This is the time to start, as McHenry County has declared August BYOB Month in partnership with the Environmental Defenders to raise awareness and educate the public about the benefits of shopping with reusable bags.  Maybe this month will be the time you will make a lifelong change.  Think how many bags you will keep out of the waste stream if you start today at one store.  Do I see a trend coming?


Recycling as a Second Thought

Posted on July 14, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Yes, you read that correctly.  But think about it, it makes sense to reduce waste in the first place so there is not a need for recycling.  So the critical first step of waste prevention is to promote a greater awareness of the importance of the “Reduce” part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra. 

Begin by simplifying your life.  Only keep belongings that you use/enjoy on a regular basis. 

Reduce your purchases. Think before you buy any product.   Do you really need it? How did the production of this product impact the environment and what further impacts will there be with the disposal of the product (and associated packaging materials)?  

For one day, afternoon or hour a week, don’t buy anything, don’t use machines, don’t switch on anything electric, don’t cook, don’t answer your phone and, in general, don’t use any resources. 

Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones (i.e., razor, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.)  

Buy used products whenever possible and consider donating good usable items that you find unnecessary. 

And finally refuse single use products like straws, shopping bags, beverage cups, take out containers. 

Create earth-healthy habits and share your practices with others to offer encouragement.  And then in the end, if you must, please recycle.  

Plan Children’s Parties With an Eco Spin

Posted on July 11, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

In can be done!

Here are some good ideas:

First, send eco-friendly invitations.  Make your own out of what you have in your home, or send something original by email or use  If you must use paper, buy ones made from recycled paper.

In your invitation, challenge your guests to get creative by not buying gift wrap, but reusing something instead.

Instead of presents, ask each person to bring a donation for a local charity such as a pet shelter or food pantry.  Some pantries even take toys for those that can’t afford gifts.

Theme the party around saving an animal or raising money for a cause near to your heart.  Instead of receiving gifts for yourself, ask for gifts to help those in need.

Take time to celebrate a good deed with friends, and your real birthday present will turn out to be good-will and a feeling of contributing to your community and/or the world.

Summer Garage Sale

Posted on July 6, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Donations for our annual Summer garage sale can be dropped off Sunday, July 10 through Wednesday, July 13, (Sunday 2pm – 5pm, Mon-Wed 10 am until 3 pm.) The sale is located at the Algonquin Township Road District complex, 3702 U.S. Highway 14, between Crystal Lake & Cary (next to the Hollows), drive back to the big beige garage on the right.
What type of things are we looking for? Antiques and collectibles, household items, books, tools, dishes, pots and pans, dressers and tables, etc. Just about anything that can be re-sold, with a few exceptions – small appliances & electronics must be in working order, we cannot take clothes, upholstered furniture, televisions, computers, or large appliances. Not sure if we can take it? Call the office and ask, or email us.
The garage sale will be held July 14-16, 9am-4pm. The sale is located at the Algonquin Township Road District complex, 3702 U.S. Highway 14, between Crystal Lake & Cary (next to the Hollows), drive back to the big beige garage on the right!
We always have a great assortment, including housewares, small appliances, dish sets, glassware, books, DVDs and CDs, furniture, tools, bicycles, toys, electronics, etc.

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.