Topic: Environmental Tips

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!

Birds on the Wing

Posted on March 24, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Birds may be the most welcome harbingers of spring. Colorful to see, a delight to hear, birds lend grace and beauty to our surroundings and provide natural insect control. To make your residence or neighborhood an inviting sanctuary for birds, create places for them to nest, feed, drink, and wash. Add to your yard or landscape a birdhouse or two, feeders, and birdbaths.  Welcome spring with sights and sounds.  

Recycle Those Political Signs!

Posted on March 17, 2016 by - Community Events, Environmental Tips, In the News

The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County is collecting political signs and sending them to New Vision Renewable energy, www.nvre.org.

New Vision Renewable Energy, a nonprofit organization based in Philippi, West Virginia., has distributed solar LED lights in over 28 countries around the world. Ruston Seaman, president and CEO of New Vision Renewable Energy, noted that the light panel is created, in part, from recycled political signs and assembled by disadvantaged students in West Virginia. We hope you will take a look at their website to get a more complete understanding of what New Vision Renewable Energy is about.

If you do not plan to re-use your signs following the election, we hope you will consider making them available to donate to this organization.

Your signs may be brought to the Defenders Recycling Drive in Woodstock on April 9, from 9 AM to Noon, at the Soil and Water Conservation District building, located at the southeast corner of Route 14 and Dean Street.

If that opportunity does not work for you, signs may be delivered to Chicago Logistic Service, 501 Davis Road, Elgin, Illinois, any time at the back of the building.

We will also be able to accept them at the Earth Day event, at Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake on April 23, from 11 AM to 4 PM.

A Green Tip for Election Time

Posted on March 10, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

As our population and industrial activities increase, more pressure is placed on the environment that sustains us. We must elect leaders who will ensure that development does not come at the expense of nature.  Translate your opinion into action and cast your vote for a candidate that has a healthy environment as a goal and priority in their campaign.

If a healthy environment is important to you, show it in your vote, talk about it, and make the environment a priority with your action.  Finally, support organizations that fight for policy that protect our natural world locally, regionally, nationally, worldly.

To Idle or not to Idle

Posted on March 2, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

We’ve heard that in winter your car needs to warm up.  But in fact, idling in winter has no benefit to newer model cars. Auto experts say no more than 30 seconds of idling is needed before you start driving.  The engine will warm up faster being driven.

This is because most modern cars do not have carburetors, which needed to warm up to work well.  New cars use electronic fuel injection.  This makes the problem of warming up the car before driving irrelevant.

Even short periods of idling are significantly damaging. Indeed, it is better to turn your engine off and start it again.  If every car in the U.S. idles for 6 minutes per day, 3 billion gallons of fuel is wasted annually and costs drivers $10 billion.  That’s lots of vehicle exhaust containing pollutants that are harmful to your family’s health and the environment that are unnecessarily being released into the atmosphere also contributing to climate change.

Information from the Washington Post – Dec. 29, 2014

Renewable Energy

Posted on February 3, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Speak your mind if you want to see renewables change the face of energy.  And do your research to choose and elect candidates that support clean energy at the local, state and national level.   Here’s why.  The will of the people concerned about the environment created a demand for solar energy, and what happened?  The solar sector beat out the oil and gas extraction industry in 2014 creating almost 50% more jobs in the U.S. than those industries did.  These are jobs open to different backgrounds including manufacturing, installation, sales and administration.  Be an active participant with information.  It matters.

Source: The Solar Foundation:  National Solar Jobs Census 2014

To Heat or Not To Heat

Posted on January 27, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Maintain a constant indoor temperature and you’re heating not just your home but also the great outdoors. Heat is constantly lost, especially through doors and windows; the warmer it remains inside, the more heat escapes. It’s a law of thermodynamics, the same principle that makes tank water heaters less efficient than on-demand models.

This is why it takes less energy to reheat a house in a short time than to keep it warm all the time, and why energy-conservation organizations like the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimate a 2% savings on heating bills for each degree you lower the thermostat for eight hours at a time.