Vermicomposting Workshop


Would you like to learn more about vermicomposting, and make and take home your very own vermicompost bin and worms? Join us on Monday, November 27 at 5:30 pm, learn about vermicomposting, construct your own container, fill it with Vermicompostingworms, take it home and let the magic begin! 
The workshop is $35 ($25 for EAC members). Each registered participant is encouraged to bring one guest with them (must be at least 8 years old), so bring your spouse, daughter, grandson, friend, and come learn about the magic of vermicomposting!
NOTE: Workshops fill up quickly; registrations are accepted in the order they are received.  Registrations must include payment to be accepted; once capacity is reached all further registrations will be refunded.  

America Recycles Day – MEGA Recycling Event – CANCELLED DUE TO SEVERE WEATHER

11/18/17 8:00 a.m. UPDATE: This event has been canceled due to severe weather.  Our apologies for any inconvenience.  

The Ecology Action Center and Illinois Wesleyan University are hosting a MEGA Recycling Event in the IWU Hansen Center parking lot from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, November 18, 2017.

This event is one of thousands across the country to celebrate America Recycles Day, the nationally recognized day to promote and encourage recycling in the United States.

Most families recycle items we typically think of: plastic food containers, glass bottles, newspapers, cardboard, aluminum cans, etc. But what about other items?  For one day only, residents can recycle the “other” recyclables at one place at the same time!

On America Recycles Day at IWU, residents can recycle:

  • Electronics (computers, radios, cellphones, ipods, VCRs, DVD players, etc.)
  • Clothes, textiles, and shoes (usable or not) courtesy of Home Sweet Home Ministries HSHRenew
  • Eyeglasses, hearing aids, holiday lights, keys, printer cartridges (courtesy of the Lions Club)
  • Mattresses (Kern Mattress Outlet)
  • Books (Books 2 Benefit)
  • Wall-mounted thermostats containing mercury (Town of Normal Public Works)
  • Corks
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • TerraCycle items (see list at
  • As an added bonus, there will be FREE confidential paper shredding on site too.

All items will be properly recycled by licensed recyclers where applicable.


Please note, the following items CANNOT be accepted at this event:

  • No CRT/tube-style TVs or monitors.
  • No household appliances – large or small.
  • NO Household hazardous waste items  – NO chemicals, paints, automotive fluids, car batteries, tires, pesticides, fertilizers, etc. These items cannot be accepted at this event and must wait for a future household hazardous waste collection event.
  • This event is for residential materials only – no business materials accepted.

Questions?  Please contact Kris Hall at the Ecology Action Center at (309) 454-3169 x. 12.



Greenways Conference

This conference showcases our community’s greenways–narrow bands of open spaces that can provide habitat for wildlife, provide essential routes for species migration, filter pollutants from water, enhance scenic and aesthetic qualities, and in many instances expand recreational as well as social, cultural, and economic opportunities. The conference is a chance for anyone who cares about our greenways to come together to mingle, learn from each other, and get inspired.

This fall’s event, held at Uptown Station on November 3, features Jeff Walk of the Nature Conservancy as our keynote speaker, who will open the event with a presentation on the benefits of green infrastructure for watersheds. The Agricultural Watershed Institute’s Steve John will close the event with a discussion of the renewable energy potential of perennial prairie grasses. In between, we’ll hear about:

Outdoor Recreational Opportunities: What’s Available Right Now?, featuring:
Terry Brown, Pantagraph Outdoor Editor and President of
Bill Davison, Educator at the University of Illinois Extension
Mike Steffa, Director of Parks and Recreation for McLean County
Stewardship of Urban Waterways: Sugar Creek
Greenways Opportunities Throughout the Region, featuring:
Jackie Kraft, Director of the McLean County Soil and Water District and Treasurer for the Friends of EverBloom
Angela Funk, Director of the Sugar Grove Nature Center
Erin Herbez, Administrative Director of the ParkLands Foundation. Introduction by Joan Brehm, professor of Environmental Sociology at ISU.

Protect our local water supplies–curb your leaf piles


For immediate release
October 30, 2017

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

For many Bloomington-Normal residents, leaf-raking efforts are already underway. Per directions from both municipalities, leaves should not be raked into the street. In addition to being a possible safety issue, leaves 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.

The Ecology Action Center urges residents to help keep our local waters clean – by either composting leaves or piling them neatly near the curb for collection.  For additional information on composting contact the Ecology Action Center at (309) 454-3169 or consult

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

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.


Composting Workshop

REGISTRATION FOR THIS WORKSHOP IS CLOSED.  Workshops will resume in the spring!  We hope to see you then!

Join us on Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 90 a.m. to build your own composter!  Backyard composting is an easy way to reduce waste and create rich soil nutrients to enrich your garden at the same time.  Taking advantage of natural processes, minimizes land-filled residential waste and produces a valuable organic fertilizer.

Turn pallets into a compost bin!

Pallet composter

The composting workshop includes everything you need to successfully begin home composting.  We’ll discuss various types of compost systems and techniques in addition to troubleshooting tips to avoid potential problems.  Participants will make and take home a composter ready for use as well as a kitchen compost pail.

Option 1: Wooden Pallet Composter

This collapsible composter will measure approximately 3x3x3 when set up.  It is open on the top, and easy to stir.

Price:  $15 for EAC members; $20 for nonmembers.

Convert a garbage can into a compost barrel!

Garbage can composter

Option 2: Plastic Garbage Cans

This model takes up little room and is easy to duplicate when you need more capacity.  Cans are approximately 30 gallons in size, and participants build TWO composting cans.

Price: $25 for EAC members; $30 for nonmembers.

Workshop space is limited and pre-registration is required. This workshop runs rain or shine. The construction process can get a bit messy so wear clothes that can get dirty. Bring an appropriate vehicle to transport your compost bin home. 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.


Sustainable Gourmet 2.0


The Ecology Action Center invites you to attend “Wine & Dine, Brew & Chew: Sustainable Gourmet 2.0,” the twelfth annual fundraising event on Thursday, October 12, at 5:30 p.m. This year’s event will feature artisanal local hors d’oeuvres prepared by the culinary team at Epiphany Farms, sampling of sustainably produced wine from Uptown Normal’s Stave Wine Bar, Central-Illinois crafted beer from JT Walker’s in Mahomet and Big Thorn Farm, the nation’s only off-grid farmhouse brewery. This popular fundraiser for the EAC also includes a silent auction with fabulous sustainable items from local businesses and organizations.

During the event, the Ecology Action Center will announce the 2017 recipients of the annual McLean County Green Awards, recognizing efforts to improve our local environment.  Nominations for these awards are being taken until September 14; visit to make a nomination for a local individual or business who deserves recognition for their environmental efforts.

Wine & Dine, Brew & Chew will be held at Epiphany Farms Ballroom at 220 E. Front Street in Bloomington, home to incredible gourmet farm to fork creations. Proceeds from this fundraiser benefit the Ecology Action Center and its important environmental sustainability efforts in Bloomington-Normal and McLean County.  Tickets must be purchased in advance; the ticket sales deadline is October 8 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. For more information, contact the Ecology Action Center at (309) 454-3169.

This event is being sponsored by Invenergy, Straight Up Solar, Dr. Matt Fraker & Dr. Sherri Thornton, Stave Wine Bar, Epiphany Farms, JT Walker’s, Big Thorn Farm, WGLT, and Palace Events.




ParkLands at 50 years: Mission unchanged; Methods evolving

Guy Fraker will share with us information on how the ParkLands Foundation is involved in land preservation in Illinois. ParkLands was founded in 1967, the consummation of Loring Merwin’s (the publisher of the Pantagraph) vision.  The original concept was for ParkLands to act as an intermediary, assembling adjacent tracts of land which would them be conveyed to an appropriate unit of government to preserve. Unfortunately this plan did not work out as intended. ParkLands now holds over 3,000 acres. This property is actively managed by ParkLands to restore it to its original condition. ParkLands  stands as  a shining example of local action and leadership , funded by generous donations, large and small. It helps preserves the Illinois landscape that was here first.

Guy Fraker is an Honorary Board of the ParkLands Foundation and an attorney. He is also the author of two book on Abraham Lincoln, is a frequent speaker on Lincoln, and is involved in a number of Lincoln related projects.

For more information on this program please visit

Public Comment/Public Hearing process on proposed new 20 year solid waste management plan

Per the Illinois Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act, each county shall have an official plan for management of the municipal solid waste (MSW) generated within its boundaries. The first McLean County Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan was adopted in October 1991. After some minor amendments, it was readopted in October 1992. Following that, the plan has been updated every five years as required, with plan updates being adopted in 1997, 2002, 2007, and 2012.

The Ecology Action Center acts as the solid waste agency for McLean County, the City of Bloomington, and Town of Normal, providing services including recycling education and outreach, household hazardous waste coordination, and solid waste planning. At the direction of the McLean County Solid Waste Technical Committee in November 2015, the Ecology Action Center staff began work not on the usual five-year update, but rather a new 20-year solid waste plan for the community.

A new waste plan is necessary due to the significant changes that have occurred since the development of the original plan in 1991. In addition to substantial improvements in recycling technology, infrastructure, and residential practices, other variables have shifted, such as commodity markets and landfill capacity. The McLean County Landfill is currently estimated to reach capacity and begin closure in the first quarter of 2018.

Per the Illinois Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act, each solid waste management plan shall conform to the waste management hierarchy and include the following provisions:

  • Description of the origin, content and weight or volume of municipal waste currently generated within the county’s boundaries, and the origin, content, and weight or volume of municipal waste that will be generated within the county’s boundaries during the next 20 years, including an assessment of the primary variables affecting this estimate and the extent to which they can reasonably be expected to occur.
  • A description of the facilities where municipal waste is currently being processed or disposed of and the remaining available permitted capacity of such facilities.
  • A description of the facilities and programs that are proposed for the management of municipal waste generated within the county’s boundaries during the next 20 years, including, but not limited to their size, expected cost and financing method.
  • An evaluation of the environmental, energy, life cycle cost and economic advantages and disadvantages of the proposed waste management facilities and programs.
  • A description of the time schedule for the development and operation of each proposed facility or program.
  • The identity of potential sites within the county where each proposed waste processing, disposal and recycling program will be located or an explanation of how the sites will be chosen. For any facility outside the county that the county proposes to utilize, the plan shall explain the reasons for selecting such facility.
  • The identity of the governmental entity that will be responsible for implementing the plan on behalf of the county and explanation of the legal basis for the entity’s authority to do so.

In addition, adoption and updating of the solid waste plan must adhere to the following requirements:

  • Prior to adoption by the governing body of the county, the county shall submit copies of the proposed plan for review and comment to the Agency, all municipalities within the county, all areawide planning agencies and the county health department.
  • The county shall also make the proposed plan available for public review and comment. The period for review and comment shall be 90 days. The county shall hold at least one public hearing on the proposed plan during this period. The plan subsequently submitted to the governing body of the county for adoption shall be accompanied by a document containing written responses to substantive comments made during the comment period.
  • The governing body of the county shall adopt a plan within 60 days from the end of the public comment period. Within 10 days of adoption, the plan shall be submitted to the Agency for review.
  • Each county waste management plan shall be updated and reviewed every 5 years, and any necessary or appropriate revisions shall be submitted to the Agency for review and comment.

Accordingly, the following timeline is planned for the approval process:

  • August 30, 2017: Present Solid Waste Plan to McLean County Solid Waste Technical Committee for review and approval.
  • September 7, 2017: Present Solid Waste Plan to McLean County Land Use Committee as an informational item.
  • October 4, 2017: Present to the McLean County Regional Planning Commission for review and comment.
  • October 5, 2017: McLean County Land Use Committee reviews Solid Waste Plan, begins 90-day public comment period. Post Solid Waste Plan to McLean County Website, Ecology Action Center website, and provide hard copies for review in McLean County Clerk’s office. Distribute to McLean County municipalities outside Bloomington-Normal for review and comment.
  • October 9, 2017: Present to the Bloomington City Council for review and comment.
  • October 16, 2017: Present to Normal Town Council for review and comment.
  • December 7, 2017: Mclean County Land Use Committee holds public hearing on Solid Waste Plan (3:30 p.m. in Room 400 at the Government Center, 115 E Washington Street, Bloomington, Illinois)
  • January 4, 2018: McLean County Land Use Committee concludes public comment period on Solid Waste Plan. Ecology Action Center provides response to substantive comments on plan. McLean County Land Use Committee reviews plan and makes recommendation for consideration by the full County Board.  Download final solid waste plan packet (original plan).
  • January 16, 2018: McLean County Board considers Solid Waste Plan for approval.
  • February 5, 2018: Normal Town Council considers Solid Waste Plan for approval (updated 12/20/17).
  • February 12, 2018: Bloomington City Council considers Solid Waste Plan for approval (updated 1/8/18).
  • February 16, 2018: Solid Waste Plan submitted to Illinois EPA (updated 12/20/17).

The proposed plan is available for download as a pdf or is available in hard copy form upon request from the Ecology Action Center or the McLean County Clerk’s office.  Written comments about the plan may be submitted at the McLean County Clerk’s office through January 4, 2018.  Comments may also be submitted via email to Michael Brown at  Submitter must include their full name and home address; please use subject line “solid waste plan public comment”.  Please note–all submitted public comments become part of the public record; personal contact information such as email address or phone number will be redacted for privacy purposes.

Document Downloads

Proposed 2017 Twenty-year Materials Recovery and Resource Conservation  Plan for McLean County, City of Bloomington, and Town of Normal, Illinois (pdf)

Solid Waste Plan Comments received through January 3, 2018 (pdf)

Final packet of solid waste plan materials for January 4, 2018 McLean County Land Use Committee (pdf)