Topic: Environmental Tips

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!

The Basics of Earth Day History

Posted on April 14, 2016 by - Community Events, Environmental Tips

The first Earth Day was celebrated in1970, and is considered the birth of the modern environmental movement.  Before 1970, the health of the environment was not a common concern, even as industry poured chemicals and smoke into the air. In 1962, Rachel Carson, an ecologist from Pennsylvania, published a book called Silent Spring. The book became a best seller and raised public awareness of environmental concerns.

After the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif., Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator for Wisconsin, organized a nationwide demonstration against the pollution and the deterioration of the environment. The protest was held on April 22, 1970. Approximately twenty million Americans joined the demonstration in support of a healthier and more sustainable treatment of the environment.

It’s About the Bread

Posted on April 4, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Similar to the switch from white rice to brown, swapping white bread for whole wheat can give your health and the environment a boost.  It’s well known that whole grain and wheat breads are more nutritious than white bread, but brown breads are also less harmful to the environment.

Wheat flour must be refined and go through a series of alteration processes to make white bread, but whole wheat flour spends less time in production. Whole grains in general are better sources of nutrients and filling fiber and also spend less time in production, explains Mother Nature Network. “Any ingredient that requires extensive refining requires more energy and resources and has a greater impact on the planet.”

This food for thought brought to you by the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County.

Asbestos Awareness Week is April 1-7th.

Posted on March 31, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Asbestos Awarenes WeekAsbestos Awareness Week is April 1-7th. The purpose of the week is to raise awareness of the prevalence of the mineral asbestos worldwide. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used through the 1970’s in many consumer and commercial applications as an insulating material.

It is a known cause of an aggressive cancer called mesothelioma. While this mineral was found as dangerous and cancer-causing many years ago, there is still no global ban on its production and use. It can still be found in many older homes, buildings and antique consumer goods such as crockpots, hairdryers and even fake snow.

Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is airborne so if you think that there may be asbestos in your home, consult a professional before touching it. Take part by educating yourself and others about the dangers of exposure to asbestos.

For more information about asbestos and mesothelioma, visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. We thank them for the graphic and info!

Healthy Candlelight

Posted on March 24, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

What could be better than candles burning on a cold winter’s night? I invite you to indulge yourself with soy or beeswax candles. But for indoor air quality, I suggest you avoid the easier-to-find paraffin variety.

Paraffin vs Soy or Beeswax:

Research at South Carolina State University in 2009 compared emissions from paraffin wax and soy candles, all of which were non-scented, non-pigmented and contained no dyes. Researchers explained that paraffin candles produced significantly more soot than others, and found that paraffin candles emitted sharp peaks of hazardous chemicals such as benzene and toluene. Soy and beeswax candles did not emit significant levels of these chemicals.

Fine Particulate Matter:

Fine particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air which are small enough to penetrate the respiratory system further than larger particles. Fuel combustion, including candle-burning, can create fine PM. The US EPA explains that a well-designed and maintained candle emits negligible fine PM because almost all the particles are consumed by the flame. But poor candle composition and design, wick length or drafty air can lead to smoldering, which can create PM beyond ambient air quality standards. In addition, blowing out candles can instantly create a large amount of PM. The EPA recommends extinguishing the flame with a wet cloth, scissors or a snuffer.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons:

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAs) are products of incomplete combustion. Indoor sources include candles and incense. A study by the Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research found that five-year old children exposed to high levels of PHAs scored 4 points lower on standardized intelligence tests than less exposed children.

Shopping:

Soy candles are easier to find these days, including at stores such as Target. Beeswax candles require a little more effort to find, but there are plenty of online sources. While beeswax candles tend to cost more than others, they burn much longer. And they emit a natural, warm honey smell. So, enjoy soy or beeswax candlelight tonight!