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?

BYOBagMcHenryCounty

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 Evite.com.  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.  

Environmental Defenders, municipalities try to keep up with demand for TV recycling

Posted on June 13, 2016 by - In the News

Copyright Northwest Herald, June 11, 2016 http://www.nwherald.com/2016/05/25/environmental-defenders-municipalities-try-to-keep-up-with-demand-for-tv-recycling/afpr6z5/

 

When Sue Jensen used to see TVs dumped on random curbs or in Dumpsters, she thought people were putting them there because they were unaware Illinois had banned electronic devices in landfills in 2012.

Four years after the ban began, Jensen no longer believes ignorance is the issue.

“I think TVs are on the curb now – or in the ditch, or in the river – because people are frustrated there’s nowhere else for them to put it,” Jensen said.

Jensen, a board member of the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, sees firsthand how much the demand for recycling of electronics – particularly TVs – has exploded in recent months.

She and Ken Santowski, another Defenders board member who also is on the Lakewood Village Board, have led the effort to give McHenry County residents a place to recycle those devices.

A series of events has contributed to the spike in demand, including the fact that a Spring Grove vendor who previously collaborated with many municipalities went out of business.

Meanwhile, stores such as Best Buy that used to accept TVs have stopped because state law dictates they cannot charge for the service.

The Defenders accept electronics at their monthly recycling drives, charging 50 cents a pound (up to $40) for TVs and computer monitors, which is allowed because the organization is a 501(c)(3) charity.

Santowski provides trucks and other resources from the company he co-owns, Elgin’s Chicago Logistic Services, and the events are run by volunteers. The Defenders do not profit – the collected fees cover the cost of hauling and recycling.

“A lot of times, people just assume – why else would we be doing it if we weren’t making money?” Jensen said. “That’s why we are the only ones left doing it: We’re doing it because we care about the environment.”

The Defenders always have worked to fill a niche for recycling that’s not being offered elsewhere, Jensen said, but the influx of TVs got so huge last last year that the group reached a “crisis point” and suspended its monthly drives for three months to regroup.

The first three drives of 2016 yielded 34,000 pounds of TVs, they said.

Although municipalities also cannot charge for electronics recycling, several have worked with trash collectors or other companies to arrange spring cleaning events, only to see the events get swamped.

Cary hosted a recycling drive for residents on April 23 and anticipated double the 70 vehicles it served at last year’s event. The event ended up serving 315 vehicles, mostly with TVs, before the line had to be cut off with dozens still waiting.

“It’s pent-up demand is what it is,” Village Administrator Chris Clark said. “We’re talking about a lot of very, very large TVs, not just small televisions or monitors. … It becomes an issue of safety.”

In McHenry, a May 21 event yielded about 30,000 pounds of TVs, nearly double its collection from last year, Public Works Director Jon Schmitt said.

Algonquin Township, which hosts a monthly drive for residents, had to institute a limit of one TV or monitor per household per month. At its April drive, Township Highway Commissioner Bob Miller said the line stretched down Route 14 from the Country Gas station in Crystal Lake to the Thornton’s in Cary.

“What happens is, you open the door, and my good golly, they just keep coming,” Miller said.

Those running recycling drives are hoping the state will come up with a better solution to ensure that all residents have a place to properly recycle old TVs.

For now, the Defenders are continuing their monthly efforts around the county. The group’s drives include one that occurred Saturday in Harvard and one planned for July 9 in Algonquin, and it is working with McHenry Township to host regular drives there.

“My goal is that everyone will finally get rid of all their TVs and we can go back to collecting light bulbs and Styrofoam,” Santowski said.

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.

Prairie Planting Events

Posted on May 23, 2016 by - Community Events

Through the Friends of Hackmatack we’ve received hundreds of prairie plants, compliments of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, that need to get into the ground. Can you help plant them?

If you are available, please help us out at the following planting events.  Please wear long pants and sturdy shoes. Bring a water bottle, gloves and your favorite shovel and hand trowel. We’ll have water and snacks.

 

Here are some scheduled planting dates you are invited to join:

  • Thurs. May 26, 5 – 8 p.m. planting at O’Brien Prairie (SW corner O’Brien Rd & Rt. 47, south of Hebron, IL at the roadside rest area).  If you can only come for part of the time, we would still appreciate your help.  Please email envirodefmc@gmail.com to let us know if you can join us.
  • Sat. June 4, 10 am-Noon, planting at the Defenders’ property (meet at the Soil and Water Conservation District Building, 2222 S. Dean St., Woodstock).  Our members’ Pancakes on the Prairie event is that morning at 9 am.   We’re hoping you will come and enjoy the breakfast and then stay after to help with the planting.   Reservations are requested to help know how much food to buy. So please email envirodefmc@gmail.com to RSVP if you plan to attend the breakfast before the planting.  If you can’t get there for breakfast, but would like to help with the planting, please arrive by 10 a.m.

Thanks in advance for your help in providing monarchs and other pollinators the habitat they need to survive!