Curb your Leaf Piles to Protect Clean Water

mCLEANwater.orgFor many residents of Bloomington and Normal, leaf raking efforts are now already underway. Per directions from both municipalities, leaves should not be raked into the street. In addition to being a possible safety issue, leaves just can act as a storm water pollutant. Washed into the storm sewer system and eventually into creek, streams, and lakes, the additional nutrients from the massive amounts of leaves breaking down can remove oxygen from the water, suffocating plants and wildlife.

Please help us keep our local waters clean – either compost leaves or pile them neatly near the curb for collection.  For information on composting, contact the Ecology Action Center at (309) 454-3169 or consult ecologyactioncenter.org.

Information on protecting our local watersheds is available at the mCLEANwater.org website, a clearinghouse of local resources about our water and efforts to better protect it.

Tickets Now on Sale for Ninth Annual Sustainable Gourmet Wine Tasting/Local Foods Fundraiser

SG 2014The Ecology Action Center invites you to attend the ninth annual Sustainable Gourmet on Thursday, October 23, at 5:30 p.m. This popular fundraiser for the EAC features artisanal local hors d’oeuvres, a tasting of wines, and a silent auction with fabulous sustainable items from local businesses and organizations.

This year the event will be held at Epiphany Farms Restaurant at 220 E. Front Street in Bloomington, home to incredible gourmet farm to fork creations.   Proceeds of this fundraiser benefit the Ecology Action Center and its important environmental sustainability efforts in Bloomington-Normal and McLean County. Tickets are $40 and are available online or at the Ecology Action Center at 202 W. College Avenue during regular business hours (Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.).

Tickets must be purchased in advance; the ticket sales deadline is October 20 or when tickets are sold out, whichever comes first.  This event has sold out the past four years in a row so attendees are encouraged to buy tickets early.

Ecology Action Center Launches Energy Analysis Program for Residents

For immediate release

September 30, 2014

Contact: Michael Brown
(309) 454-3169 x.11
mbrown@ecologyactioncenter.org

energybrightfinalThe Ecology Action Center has launched its home energy analysis program for Bloomington-Normal residents through BN EnergyBright, a program dedicated to helping our community save energy and keep warm. Sponsored by the Town of Normal and the City of Bloomington, BN EnergyBright professional staff will be conducting energy analyses of homes and apartments, recommending energy efficiency updates and providing an energy saving toolkit.

Residents can sign up at BNenergyBright.org and fill out a simple form to enroll in the program. For only $20 for Bloomington-Normal residents, the program includes not only a check-up of the home and recommendations for smart energy savings, but also an energy-saving toolkit with a retail value of over $30 that will save residents at least $100 annually. The kit includes an LED light bulb, weatherstripping materials, foam outlet covers, and more. EAC staff will also answer questions about how to best use the items in the toolkit to ensure maximum savings and comfort.

Included in an energy analysis is an evaluation of the home’s lighting, appliances, and heating and cooling, along with an assessment of its building envelope. Residents will receive a comprehensive report with recommendations on how best to save energy and resources to make it as easy as possible.
More details are available at www.BNenergyBright.org, or by calling (309) 454-3169 x15.

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.

Illinois Prairie Wild Ones invites applications for small grants

In support of the Mission and Vision of Wild Ones, the Illinois Prairie Chapter is awarding small grants to fund the purchase of native Central Illinois plants and seeds.

Eligible Applicants

Schools, colleges, nature centers, houses of worship, public and private not-for-profit organizations which are located within the following Illinois counties: LaSalle, Grundy, Putnam, Stark, Marshall, Livingston, Woodford, Peoria, Tazewell, McLean, Ford, Mason, Champaign, Menard, Logan, DeWitt, Piatt, Macon, Moultrie, and Sangamon.

Eligible Projects

Projects must involve the preservation, restoration or establishment of native plantings. Projects may include, but are not limited to the following: Butterfly Gardens, Monarch Way Stations, Prairie, Woodland, or Wetland Plantings, etc. The portion of the project for which funds are requested must use native plants rather than cultivars of native plants and these native plants must be appropriate to the local ecosystem in which the project is located. If you are not sure what plants are native to your local ecosystem, please visit this website: http://illinoiswildflowers.info.

Projects must serve to educate the public about the benefits and beauty of native plants. Therefore, the proposed project’s site must be accessible to the public. If the project is to be located on property that you do not own, you must obtain permission from the landowner to use the property for your purpose.

More information and application can be found at http://illinoisprairie.wildones.org/grants/.

Illinois EPA Announces Fall Household Hazardous Waste Collection Schedule

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.

FALL 2014 HHW COLLECTION EVENTS

The Ecology Action Center, acting as the local solid waste agency, receives inquiries 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 fall HHW events are planned for our area, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has scheduled HHW collections in Monticello on September 27 and Lincoln on October 11. More details are available at the IEPA website. These collection events are open to any Illinois resident to bring residentially-generated HHW for proper disposal—no business waste is accepted.

NEW AGREEMENT PROVIDES FOR LOCAL HHW COLLECTIONS IN 2015 AND 2017

For the first time, McLean County residents will be able to plan for local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection events in 2015 and 2017. Under a recently approved multi-year agreement, the Town of Normal, City of Bloomington, and McLean County will provide the major portion of the funding for HHW collection events in the fall of 2015 and fall 2017. Both will be coordinated by the Ecology Action Center (EAC).

To supplement local government funding for the purposes of HHW collection, the EAC is accepting contributions to the McLean County HHW Fund, a restricted fund, to supplement local government funding for upcoming HHW collections. The costs associated with organizing a HHW collection event vary, and raising private funds is necessary to provide the amount of funding needed for future events. As the EAC is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, contributions to the HHW Fund may be considered tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. Donations may be made online. Sponsorships and in-kind contributions by businesses or corporations may provide similar benefits. Contact Michael Brown at 309-454-3169 x.11 for more information.

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 fall schedule at the IEPA website.
  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 on our website. 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 McLean County Freecycle.

More information on hazardous waste disposal and nonhazardous waste disposal are available at ecologyactioncenter.org or by calling 369-454-3169. Free resources include a notification email list for HHW updates, 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.

Household Hazardous Wastes are materials and chemicals that are toxic, flammable, corrosive, reactive, or explosive. They typically cannot be safely recycled or disposed of without a special HHW center or collection event. These wastes can be a serious threat to water supplies and our local environment if they are improperly discarded with nonhazardous trash (put into a municipal solid waste landfill), dumped down the drain, or illegally dumped elsewhere.

WHAT DO I DO WITH LATEX PAINT?
Latex paint is not considered hazardous waste and can be legally and safely disposed of with regular household trash if dried to a solid form. The best means to dry it out is to pour it out onto several layers of newspaper or other disposable material, allow it to dry completely, and then roll up the newspaper and throw it away. Watch a short video demonstration HERE.

McLean County Recycling Rate at All-Time High

73,833 tons of municipal solid waste were recycled in McLean County in 2013, a 3.4% increase from the 2012 rate.  This is the highest rate yet recorded by the Ecology Action Center in its annual calculations of total waste generated and total waste recycled.

While minor fluctuations in the recycling rate have occurred over the past several years especially during the economic recession, McLean County continues to inch closer to the community-wide recycling goal of 40%.  This goal is established within the McLean County Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, which is updated every five years.

 

Year 2010 2011 2012 2013
Total MSW Recycled 80,541 71,099 66,737 73,833
Total MSW Landfilled 134,325 136,927 116,290 121,991
Incinerated/Fuel Blended - - 52 0
Total Municipal Solid Waste Generated 214,866 208,026 183,079 195,824
Percent Change from Previous Year -5.9% -3.2% -12.0% 7.0%
Recycling Rate 37.5% 34.2% 36.5% 37.7%
Percent Change from Previous Year 6.7% -8.8% 6.7% 3.4%
population 169,572 170,701 172,295 174,647
per capita per day (pounds) 6.9 6.7 5.8 6.1

The Ecology Action Center annually collects data on the amount of municipal solid waste generated and recycled for all of McLean County.   This data is used for solid waste management planning purposes.  Among other services, the EAC acts as the solid waste agency for Bloomington, Normal, and McLean County and provides technical assistance, recycling promotion, nontraditional recycling program administration, household hazardous waste coordination, and education and outreach.

Information on residential recycling, recycling of nontraditional materials, and information on disposal of household hazardous wastes is available by calling (309) 454-3169 or visiting ecologyactioncenter.org.

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.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Bloomington-Normal Quantified in Baseline Study

The Ecology Action Center (EAC) recently completed the first inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for the Bloomington-Normal community. A greenhouse gas emissions inventory is a tool that quantifies carbon dioxide and related emissions, so that a community can both set baseline data and regularly assess progress towards meeting local goals for reducing emissions. Results are contained in the EAC’s report Bloomington-Normal Greenhouse Gas Inventory–Local Government Operations and Community-Scale Emissions, Baseline Year: 2008, available for download online.The per capita emissions and sources for Bloomington-Normal for 2008 closely mirrored state and national rates and trends for that year.

2008 GHG Inventory Report  - FINALThe baseline study reveals that the leading sources of greenhouse gases in Bloomington-Normal are from stationary energy usage such as electricity and natural gas for cooling, heating, and other needs including lighting and refrigeration in homes, businesses, industry, and local government. Electricity and natural gas emissions account for over three-quarters of the community-wide emissions. Vehicular transportation followed at almost 20% of the emissions. Stationary energy and transportation emissions are primarily attributable to combustion of fossil fuels.

With the results from similar studies in hand, communities across the nation are implementing common-sense strategies that not only help reduce climate-changing greenhouse gases, but also save money, conserve energy, improve air quality, and preserve precious natural resources. The City of Bloomington and Town of Normal provided funding for this emissions study.

New Multi-Partner Agreement Provides for Local Hazardous Waste Collection in 2015 and 2017

HHWFor the first time, McLean County residents will be able to plan for local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection events in 2015 and 2017. Under a recently approved multi-year agreement, the Town of Normal, City of Bloomington, and McLean County will provide the major portion of the funding for HHW collection events in the fall of 2015 and fall 2017. Both will be coordinated by the Ecology Action Center (EAC).

As the designated solid waste agency for the local community, the EAC has traditionally coordinated HHW collection with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) with annual events funded by the state from 2003 through 2007. State funding became less reliable with the economic recession; despite an active application with the IEPA, McLean County did not receive a state sponsored event for six years after 2007.

In 2012, the EAC held a HHW collection for Bloomington-Normal and McLean County residents, funded entirely by local contributions. The EAC’s successful year-long HHW fundraising campaign resulted in $160,000 in public and private contributions including in-kind services; this unique funding strategy has resulted in multiple awards and recognitions for the EAC, both locally and state-wide.

The EAC eventually was granted an IEPA sponsored HHW collection in 2013. The significant turnout at both the 2012 and 2013 collections demonstrated the need for more regular and dependable HHW services to better meet the needs of McLean County residents. The new inter-governmental agreement to provide for 2015 and 2017 HHW events addresses that need. Because of funding limitations, participation in these collections will be limited to McLean County residents. Illinois law mandates that only residential Household Hazardous Waste may be collected; business or industrial waste cannot be accepted.

The EAC plans to continue collecting contributions to the McLean County HHW Fund, a restricted fund, to supplement local government funding for upcoming HHW collections. The costs associated with organizing a HHW collection event vary, and raising private funds is necessary to provide the amount of funding needed for future events. As the EAC is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, contributions to the HHW Fund may be considered tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. Donations may be made online at ecologyactioncenter.org/hhw-fund/. Sponsorships and in-kind contributions by businesses or corporations may provide similar benefits. Contact Michael Brown at 309-454-3169 x.11 for more information.

Household Hazardous Wastes are materials and chemicals that are toxic, flammable, corrosive, reactive, or explosive. They typically cannot be safely recycled or disposed of without a special HHW center or collection event. These wastes can be a serious threat to water supplies and our local environment if they are improperly discarded with nonhazardous trash (put into a municipal solid waste landfill), dumped down the drain, or illegally dumped elsewhere.

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.

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