Successful Clean Up Event Yields Nearly One Ton of Trash

The Ecology Action Center in partnership with McLean County Wheelers, Friends of the Constitution Trail, Bike BloNo, and the Lake Run Club held a successful clean up of Sugar Creek and the Constitution Trail on Saturday, April 19 as part of Bloomington-Normal Clean Up Week.  30 volunteers contributed over 100 hours of labor, working from Tipton Park west along the trail and creek.  The resulting haul totaled nearly one ton of trash removed from the creek and trail.  Thank you to everyone who volunteered and helped protect our local environment.

 

April and May Rain Barrel Workshops

The Ecology Action Center is excited to announce our hands-on workshop where YOU rain-barrel2build your own water saving rainwater collection and storage container. Commercially available rainwater collection and storage systems range in price from $75 – $200, but the Ecology Action Center is offering build-your-own rain harvesters at very reasonable prices.

The workshop includes:

  • 55 gallon reused food grade heavy gauge plastic barrel or ~275 gallon MEGA Rain Harvester (not food grade)
  • A flexible elbow to direct rain water from your downspout to your rain barrel. Fits on 3″ downspouts.
  • A 6″ heavy duty screen to prevent entry of mosquitoes and leaves
  • High quality brass plumbing and rubber O-rings for long life
  • Overflow hose and fittings with mosquito barrier
  • Instruction and use of all tools needed for the project
  • Workshop excludes installation materials for your specific home which may include concrete blocks, hacksaw, screwdriver, sheet metal screws, etc.

The fine print: This workshop runs rain or shine. The construction process can get a bit messy so wear clothes that can get dirty. The barrels measure 25″ wide and 35″ tall and weigh approximately 25 pounds. Bring an appropriate vehicle to transport your barrel home. There is a limit of one rain barrel per household per workshop. We will be using power tools; safety glasses are required and will be provided. For safety reasons, all participants must be 18 years or older.

To see the schedule of current dates and sign up online, consult the BN Green Events Calendar.

Spring Cleaning? Don’t throw Hazardous Waste out with the Trash!

Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes pollutes our local water supplies and environment.  Whether it is thrown out with regular trash going to a municipal waste landfill, dumped illegally down the drain, storm sewer, or in a ditch, these actions compromise the safety of drinking water thereby threatening the health and well-being of area residents.

The Ecology Action Center, acting as the local solid waste agency, receives inquires daily from concerned residents who wish to dispose of materials properly.  Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection events are the primary means for safe disposal of many of these materials.  While no spring HHW events are planned for our area, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has scheduled HHW collections in Lewistown on June 7 and DeKalb on June 21.  More details are available at the IEPA website at http://www.epa.state.il.us/land/hazardous-waste/household-haz-waste/hhwc-schedule.html.  These collection events are open to any Illinois resident to bring residentially-generated HHW for proper disposal—no business waste is accepted.

Historically state funding provided for annual HHW collection events in McLean County from 2003-2007.  Unfortunately, due to state budget cuts, this funding has become much more irregular and infrequent with a gap in state HHW funding for McLean County for six years.  To meet the community’s needs, in 2012 the Ecology Action Center raised over $160,000 in contributions and in-kind services to hold the first-ever locally funded HHW collection in the McLean County area.  This effort resulted in the largest HHW event ever in this community as thousands of households sought to dispose of a backlog of hazardous waste.  This unique and wildly successful funding strategy drew recognition ranging from an Honorable Mention among the 2013 Governor’s Sustainability Awards to the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Green Excellence Award.  IEPA provided funding for a 2013 HHW collection in McLean County, but the frequency of receiving such funding in the future remains unknown.

Currently, the Ecology Action Center is working on a new strategy with area partners to help provide for more regular HHW collection events for area residents.  However, in the short term the EAC urges residents to adopt three strategies for dealing with household hazardous waste.

  1. Take advantage of IEPA funded HHW collections in other communities when possible. See the spring schedule at http://www.epa.state.il.us/land/hazardous-waste/household-haz-waste/hhwc-schedule.html.
  2. Utilize local programs to dispose of some categories of HHW including household batteries, CFLs, electronics, automotive fluids, medicines, and mercury thermostats.  See locations and details of these programs at http://www.ecologyactioncenter.org/waste-and-recycling/ways-to-locally-recycle-some-hhw/.   Please note, many of these programs are limited to residential waste only due to funding limitations.  Businesses should contact the Ecology Action Center for resources for hazardous waste disposal.
  3. Reduce generation of hazardous waste in the first place.  Avoid the problem of disposal by buying safer alternatives to hazardous products, buy smaller quantities of hazardous products in order to avoid leftovers, or find others that can use leftover hazardous products through neighborhood associations, the Pantagraph’s Good Neighbor column, or through the McLean County Freecycle: http://groups.freecycle.org/McFreecycle.

More information on hazardous waste disposal and nonhazardous waste disposal are available at www.ecologyactioncenter.org or by calling 369-454-3169.  Free resources include a notification email list for HHW updates, instructions on disposal of nonhazardous latex paint, suggestions on alternative (non-hazardous) products, and information on the EAC’s Yard Smart program, promoting sustainable landscaping and gardening with less synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

 

U.S. EPA Seeks Public Comment on Mahomet Aquifer Designation

Release Date: 03/12/2014
Contact Information: Peter Cassell, 312-886-6234, cassell.peter@epa.gov

CHICAGO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today proposed approval of a petition to designate a portion of the Mahomet Aquifer system in east-central Illinois as a sole source aquifer. EPA’s public comment period on the proposed designation begins March 13 and closes June 12, 2014.

The Safe Drinking Water Act gives EPA authority to designate an aquifer as a sole or principal source of drinking water for a specified area. That designation allows EPA to review all federally funded projects within the designated area to ensure they will not contaminate the aquifer.

The Mahomet Aquifer system is an underground layer of water-bearing sand and gravel that fills a wide bedrock valley in all or parts of 14 east-central Illinois counties. The aquifer system is the source of approximately 53 million gallons of water every year for 120 public water systems and thousands of rural wells that serve about a half million people. More than half of the population in east-central Illinois relies on the Mahomet Aquifer system as a source of the drinking water.

EPA will hold two public hearings on May 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1501 S. Neil St., Champaign; and on May 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Morton Park District’s Freedom Hall, 349 Birchwood, Morton. Oral and written comments will be accepted at both hearings. Informational sessions in advance of the public hearings will run from 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. on both evenings.

Draft documents and information about the public hearings are available on EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/region5/water/gwdw/mahomet/index.htm. Documents are also available at:
· Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., Champaign.
· Bloomington Public Library, 205 E. Olive St., Bloomington.
· Pekin Public Library, 301 S. Fourth St., Pekin.
· Havana Public Library, 201 W. Adams St., Havana.
· Watseka Public Library, 201 S. 4th St., Watseka.
· U.S. EPA’s Region 5 Office, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago.

Comments should be addressed to William Spaulding, U.S. EPA (WG-15J), 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604-3590 or spaulding.william@epa.gov. For questions or additional information contact William Spaulding at 312-886-9262, or EPA’s toll-free line at 800-621-8431, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (weekdays).

Full Press Release

 

EAC Seeks Local Efforts Worthy of Recognition: McLean County Green Awards

The Ecology Action Center wants to know who is making a difference in McLean County.  Nominations for the World of Difference Awards and the Recycling and Waste Reduction Awards are now being accepted.  The recipients of these awards will be announced on April 12 at the Illinois Sustainable Living and Wellness Expo held at the Shirk Center at Illinois Wesleyan University.

 These annual awards recognize outstanding projects, activities, or individuals in McLean County that promote environmental awareness or conserve natural resources.  Any business, organization, school, or individual may be nominated for either award.  Past recipients include WGLT’s  Good to Go sustainable transportation program, Jewel-Osco’s zero waste practices, ISU’s food scrap composting program, YouthBuild McLean County’s green building training programs, and many more.

Applications are available online at www.ecologyactioncenter.org (World of Difference Award Nomination Form or McLean County Recycling Award Nomination Form); all submissions are due by March 17, 2014.

The Ecology Action Center is a not-for-profit environmental agency with a mission to inspire and assist residents of McLean County in creating, strengthening and preserving a healthy environment.  The EAC acts as a central resource for environmental education, information, outreach, and technical assistance in McLean County.

Download press release (pdf) 

Ecology Action Center Recognized for Efforts towards a Greener Community

Green Excellence Award

EAC Board Members, Staff, and Volunteers present to accept the Green Excellence Award at the Chamber of Commerce Gala: Kari Sandhaas, George Gordon, Ken Springer, Cindy Golliday, Carlo Robustelli, Tim Golliday, Charlotte Brown, Beverly Beyer, Michael Brown, Laurine Brown, and Myra Gordon

The Ecology Action Center (EAC) was recognized this past Saturday for its four decade long effort to help improve the McLean County environment.  The McLean County Chamber of Commerce presented the EAC with the 2013 Green Excellence Award at the annual Gala at the Double Tree Hotel.

The Green Excellence Award is presented to a Chamber member that has implemented practices in their business operations monitoring the environment, economy, and society.  With its origins in a one-day recycling drive in 1971, the Ecology Action Center, originally known as Operation Recycle, has long provided leadership towards a more sustainable community.  Acting as an environmental agency for the Bloomington-Normal and greater McLean County area, the EAC provides a host of services including educational programs and outreach on multiple environmental issues, solid waste planning and administration, coordination of household hazardous waste collections, acts as an information center and clearinghouse, and other services.

With a small but dedicated staff and a host of generous volunteers, supporters, and partners, the EAC has a significant influence in the community.  Through its diverse outreach and education efforts, the center has as many as 100,000 interactions with area residents in a calendar year.  While after 43 years the promotion of recycling and waste reduction remain a major focus for the organization, the EAC continues to grow and expand its program areas to now include clean water, radon awareness, and energy efficiency in addition to the general promotion of sustainable lifestyles.  Appreciative of the continued support of the community, the EAC looks forward to the next four decades of helping improve the McLean County environment.

Press Release (pdf)

Lincoln Land Community College to host Central Illinois Composting Symposium

SPRINGFIELD–Lincoln Land Community College’s Green Center is hosting the 11th Annual Central Illinois Composting Symposium Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Trutter Center on the Springfield campus, 5250 Shepherd Road. Registrations are bteing accepted now.

The theme for this year’s symposium is “What’s the Dirt on Composting?” The symposium is a forum for sharing composting information; stimulating the composting market; and bringing composters, educators, and businesses together so that everyone can benefit from learning about this excellent organic soil amendment and materials management method. Participants learn about composting organic materials and resources to help them be a successful composter.

Jen Walling of the Illinois Environmental Council will provide the keynote presentation and discuss what is happening with compost in Illinois in terms of policy and practice, and where compost is headed. A Build Your Own Bin (BYOB) workshop is being offered for participants to learn more about vermicomposting and to construct their own vermicomposting bin for use at home, work, or school. Symposium presenters include educators and experts from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, Better Earth, Illinois Recycling Association, Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Southern Illinois University.

Symposium registration is $30 before Feb. 5, $35 after Feb. 5. The symposium is free to students with a valid ID. Lunch is only guaranteed for those who register by Feb. 5. Build Your Own Bin workshop registration is $15.

Businesses or organizations related to composting or gardening are invited to exhibit at the symposium. Exhibitor space is $55, which includes one registration to the symposium (registration only; BYOB not included). Also, live worms and a variety of composting books will be available for purchase. Cash and checks only; no credit cards accepted.

The symposium is sponsored by the LLCC Green Center, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, University of Illinois Extension, City of Springfield’s Division of Waste and Recycling, Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Environmental Council and Illinois Recycling Association.

For additional information, call 786.4993 or email marnie.record@llcc.edu. To register, go to www.llcc.edu/greencenter.

Ecology Action Center Schedules February Green Drinks Featuring Bike BloNo

For immediate release
January 30, 2014

Contact:   Michael Brown
Phone:     (309) 454-3169 x. 11  

Green Drinks is an informal, social networking group for people working on or interested in environmental issues. Green Drinks groups meet in over 500 cities across the globe. The groups have no political affiliation and generally no agenda. They serve as a forum for green professionals and other interested community members to meet, socialize and share ideas. The Ecology Action Center holds Green Drinks in Bloomington-Normal on the first Tuesday of every month. 

The February Green Drinks will take place Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. at Medici in Normal and feature a presentation by the Bike BloNo.   Founders and directors of Bike BloNo, Bloomington-Normal’s bike advocacy organization, will speak on upcoming bike lane additions in the twin cities, social bike events planned for the next year, steps they are taking to educate and inform commuters on the road, and ways they (and you) can further bikeability in the community.  

The public is invited to attend Green Drinks, taking place in the small private room of Medici to the left of the front entrance. 

For more information, contact the Ecology Action Center at (309) 454-3169 x.11 or mbrown@ecologyactioncenter.org.