Coal Tar Sealants are risky for our health and our children’s health, and here’s why. They contain up to 35 percent coal tar pitch, partially refined waste from steelmaking that is a known carcinogen. Among the chemicals of concern in the products are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which not only pose a cancer risk, but can trigger developmental problems and impair fertility, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Consider that most playgrounds and driveways, places where our children play, are paved then sealed on a regular basis. Acting to make a healthier choice is easy. Local home good stores sell sealant that does not contain coal tar, and service providers have alternatives as well. Simply request that a no coal tar sealant be used. Advocate at your school for a healthier alternative, and praise when a safe alternative is chosen.
Switching to a bike can be a rewarding change in the way you travel. As environmentalists we know that using a bicycle for transport can improve your health and fitness, remove the stress of driving, save you money and reduce fuel use. So if you already cycle to work, increase the number of times you ride. Even if you can’t ride everywhere, you can replace some car trips with bicycle rides and still save. Save money and energy, get where you’re going and exercise at the same time, and reduce pollution.
Can’t ride your bike for travel? Simply ride for pleasure. And if having more options in travel, including bicycling, is important to you, learn about “Complete Streets” planning. Sign the “Complete Streets Petition” which you can find at the McHenry County Bicycle Advocates website or look for them at fairs and events as well. If you haven’t signed, put it on your “to do” list.
But most importantly, let you legislatures know you want more options for travel. Write letters, talk and take action to make transportation planning in our county more than about moving goods and commuters. Having more options to move about in our world and having safe routes and roadways is important for all people and how they travel. We’re talking children, seniors, walkers, runners, day workers, night workers, shoppers, commuters, caregivers, train riders, bus riders, and on and on. There’s a way to plan so all of us can get around, and having a choice with safe travel routes takes advance planning. Communicate your values to your elected representatives.
Did you know that all fertilizer applied by hired landscapers must be phosphorus-free unless you have a soil test showing phosphorus deficiency?
In Illinois, legislation was passed in 2011 to prevent its overuse. This was done because of concern for water quality, and the result of environmental studies showing that excess phosphorus and nitrogen are partly responsible for declining surface water quality. These nutrients have been linked to excessive seasonal algae growth in ponds streams and lakes. These blooms of algae can make the water smell and taste bad and decrease its recreational value. In severe cases, the algae deplete oxygen levels, which may kill fish.
Need more info? Check out the McHenry County Green Guide.
Save water by turning off the lights when they are not needed. And here’s the facts on the why: Water is used in all forms of energy generation. It can take over 4 gallons of water to keep a 60-watt light bulb lit for 12 hours.
Do the same for other electronic devices and units as well. Unplug chargers too, especially when you leave for vacation or go for a short weekend jaunt and save even more water.
Every small effort helps. When added together, its the small things that make a big difference.
Take it outside – Instead of increasing your energy consumption via home and gym exercise machines, take advantage of hiking and biking trails in your area. 100% free and always interesting! Check out the Rails-to-Trails TrailLink database to find the perfect outdoor trail in your area.
Just say no to one-time use plastic water bottles. Commit to using refillable water bottles for workouts and everyday hydration which means less waste in landfills and more money in your wallet. There are even self-filtering models.
This tip brought to you by the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County from Earth Share, a national non-profit dedicated to environmental works
It isn’t hard to understand the positive effects of sunshine on our mood. When the temperature warms and the spring sun starts to shine, we simply get happier, and that means healthier. Besides the sun helping with depression, here are a few other facts about the power of the sun that might be new to you:
-Sunlight lowers cholesterol. The sun converts high cholesterol in the blood into steroid hormones and the sex hormones we need for reproduction.
-The sun’s rays lower blood pressure. Even a single exposure significantly lowers blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.
-Sunlight builds the immune system. The white blood cells, which increase with sun exposure, are called lymphocytes, and these play a major role in defending the body against infections.
Just keep in mind that exposure to the sun should be done SLOWLY! Build up your tolerance by taking in small bits of the sun each day. Happy Spring Everyone!
While we’ve been piling up the books and stuff during the winter months, as Spring approaches start making piles to de-clutter your home. Organize your thoughts by thinking about what to keep, donate, recycle and repair with the smallest pile being things to toss.
Start with a pile of reusable items, then make that phone call to get a pick up or put that stuff in your vehicle. Detour a routine travel route to pass your favorite donation center and make that drop off.
While spring may mean a fresh start, it doesn’t have to mean new stuff. If it’s not broken, why replace it? If you need to replace, replace with a quality item that has a long life. Spending a little more up front, sometimes means spending less later, and creating less waste for our landfills.
Here’s a few ideas on how to be more comfortable in winter by reducing energy consumption and taking care of your well-being.
- First, stay active and social, and when you do go out, layer up with thin layers first.
- Be good to yourself by eating well. Bake and cook, then leave the oven door open.
- Enjoy a healthy hot drink like herbal teas or hot chocolates.
- Keep all doors closed to unused rooms, then light candles and snuggle up.
- Put down rugs and wear slippers or moccasins.
- Add Humidity. Use a humidifier, or simply leave the door open when you shower.
- Let the sun in during the day, and cover drafty windows at night.
- And, a new old idea that’s making a comeback, heat a water bottle to warm the foot of your bed before going to sleep.
Finally, start warm, and you will tend to stay warm. Happy Winter!
This tip brought to you by the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County. www.MCDEF.org.
USE ONE LESS PAPER NAPKIN
During an average year, an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins—around six each day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year. Better yet, use cloth napkins!
USE BOTH SIDES OF PAPER
American businesses throw away 21 million tons of paper every year, equal to 175 pounds per office worker. For a quick and easy way to halve this, set your printer’s default option to print double-sided (duplex printing). And when you’re finished with your documents, don’t forget to take them to the recycling bin.
You can reuse gift bags, bows and event paper, but you can also make something unique by using old maps, cloth or even newspaper. Flip a paper grocery bag inside out and give your child stamps or markers to create their own wrapping paper that’s environmentally friendly and extra special for the recipient.
Turn off your vehicle engine when parked for more than 30 seconds or waiting in lines or for passengers.
WHY? Idling continues to produce air pollution, smog and global warming, besides being harmful to health. It is more gas-efficient to turn off most warmed-up vehicles than to idle for more than 30 seconds.
Idling exhaust is especially hazardous to children around schools, as parents and buses wait for kids. Carbon monoxide reduces the ability of blood to bring oxygen to body cells and tissues. Children’s asthma symptoms increase as a result of car exhaust.
HOW? A brief warm-up period upon starting a cold car may be necessary, (1-2 mins.) but idling at every waiting location is not. To reduce air quality and health problems, it is recommended that you idle your vehicle no longer than 30 seconds — not only around schools, but everywhere you drive. For more information on cars and buses, see EPA’s anti-idling Web site.