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.

Spring Garage Sale

Posted on May 17, 2016 by - Community Events

The garage is getting full!

Shopping starts Thursday, May 19 through Saturday, May 21 from 9am until 4pm at the Algonquin Township Road District garage, 3702 U.S. Route 14, between Crystal Lake and Cary (drive back to the beige garage on the right).

Lots of treasures this year, including a battery powered lawn mower, small aquariums, Wedgwood plates, Disney character collectible ornaments, and old school desk, beautiful side chair, lawn chairs, wood file cabinets, pictures & frames, vintage SciFi magazines, and lots more!

The Defenders have been involved with diverting things from the landfills for over 45 years. Doing a garage sale is a form of recycling. Buying second hand items instead of new ones keeps things out of the landfills, saves you money, and supports a McHenry County non-profit.

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.

Member Event: Solar Energy Tour

Posted on May 5, 2016 by - Member Events

You’re Invited!

Defenders’ members are invited to attend one or both of two tours on May 15th to learn about solar installations and the benefits of renewable energy.

The first tour, beginning at 3 p.m., will be led by Kim Hankins, Sustainability Director at MCC and Defenders’ Board Member.  The tour will include a look at the array of solar panels at MCC’s Shah Center, at 4100 W. Shamrock Lane, McHenry, as well as a display of real-time data showing the energy being produced and the resulting savings in energy costs.  MCC has been honored with the “College Leadership and Sustainability Award” from the Illinois Green Energy Network, partially as a result of this installation.

For the second tour at 4:30 p.m., Pat and Terry Dieckhoff have invited us to learn about solar energy at their home in Crystal Lake, where they have solar panels installed on their roof.  They will point out that the cost of solar installation is cheaper than it has ever been and the 30% federal tax credit reduces the cost even more.  You can learn more about their installation on the Illinois Solar Energy Association website www.illinoissolar.org.  Click on the Solar Ambassador link.

To help us in planning for refreshments, reservations are requested, but not required, at envirodefmc@gmail.com or at 815-338-0393. Join us on this tour to see how you can save money on your electric bill and reduce your carbon footprint!

*This is a Members Only event. If you’re not currently a member, we’d love to have you join us – Click Here!

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.