Post-Holiday Recycling!

We hope you had a wonderful holiday season! For information regarding Christmas tree recycling, how to safely recycle old Christmas lights, and wrapping paper recycling, see below!

Wrapping paper

Most gift wrap is recyclable, except plastic wraps or metallic papers. All cardboard and paperboard packaging is also recyclable. Please reuse ribbons and bows or discard in the trash.  If you do not have curbside recycling where you live, you may utilize the Town of Normal’s drop-off locations.

Christmas trees

Residents of Bloomington and Normal enrolled in those municipalities’ waste collection programs may dispose of their real (non-artificial) Christmas tree by placing it at the curb for collection on your regularly scheduled waste collection day. As these trees will be chipped into mulch, please be sure to remove all ornaments, tinsel, lights, etc. Please do not put your tree or any other waste in the street.

For residents outside of Bloomington or Normal, please check with your local municipality for tree collection options. If you do not have tree collection service at your home or in your municipality, Twin City Wood Recycling will accept your tree for chipping into mulch at their facility at 1606 W Oakland Avenue in Bloomington at a cost of $2 per tree. Call (309) 827-9663 for more information and operating hours.

Christmas lights & other e-waste

Illinois law bans most consumer electronics from landfills–they must be recycled instead. Residents can recycle strings of Christmas lights, cords, and related electronic items, regardless of condition, at one of the many locations listed below.

Did Santa bring you a new TV? Note that only two local sites now accept the older tube-style CRT TVs and monitors for recycling. See “Items Accepted” for each of the e-waste recycling collection points below.

Location: Best Buy, 2103 N Veterans Pkwy Suite 200, Bloomington, 309-663-8090
Items Accepted: Computers, computer accessories, monitors, televisions up to 32″ (flatscreens up to 60″), all types of radios, VCRs, cameras, etc. Damaged or non-working items accepted. Customers are limited to bringing in 3 units per day per household.
Items Not Accepted: appliances, microwaves, TVs that are consoles, rear-projections, or DLPs or larger than 32″, items with freon such as air conditioners, dehumidifiers, refrigerators. No business generated waste.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 am-9:00 pm, Sunday 11:00 am-8:00 pm

Location: Home Sweet Home Warehouse Operations, 1700 W Washington St., Bloomington, 309-828-1530
Items Accepted: Computers, laptops, printers, fax, scanners, copiers, peripherals, phone systems, all types of radios, VCRs,
Microwaves, toaster ovens, hair dryers, curling irons, cash registers, cameras, blenders, and other small appliances. Damaged or non-working items accepted. All types of cell phones, pagers, PDAs and their chargers, cables, and headset accessories
All of the small computer accessories such as MP3 players, iPods, digital cameras, hand- held scanners, handheld games and other connected devices. All forms of electronic media and their cases: diskettes, zip disks, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, DVDs et al, game cartridges, DAT, DLT, and virtually all other type of computer tapes (ONLY at Mission Mart location)
Items Not Accepted: No CRT (tube-style) TVs or monitors, no VHS tapes or audio cassettes, no business-generated waste
Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:00 am-4:00 pm, 24 hour drop-off

Location: Habitat For Humanity ReStore, 1402 W Washington, Bloomington, 309-454-6047
Items Accepted: Computers, laptops, printers, fax, scanners, copiers, peripherals, phone systems, all types of radios, VCRs, Microwaves, toaster ovens, hair dryers, curling irons, cash registers, cameras, blenders, and other small appliances. Damaged or non-working items accepted. All forms of electronic media and their cases: diskettes, zip disks, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, DVDs et al, game cartridges, DAT, DLT, and virtually all other type of computer tapes. All forms of printer cartridges including both inkjet and toner. All types of cell phones, pagers, PDAs and their chargers, cables, and headset accessories. All of the small computer accessories such as MP3 players, iPods, digital cameras, hand- held scanners, handheld games and other connected devices.
Items Not Accepted: No CRT (tube-style) TVs or monitors, no VHS tapes or audio cassettes, no business generated waste
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:00 am-5:00 pm and Saturday from 9:00 am-4:00 pm

Location: Normal Public Works Garage, 1301 Warriner St., Normal, 309-454-9571
Items Accepted: Computers, laptops,televisions, monitors, printers, fax, scanners, copiers, peripherals, phone systems, all types of radios, VCRs, microwaves, toaster ovens, hair dryers, curling irons, cash registers, cameras, blenders, and other small appliances. Damaged or non-working items accepted.
All forms of electronic media: diskettes, zip disks, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, DVDs et al, game cartridges, DAT, DLT, and virtually all other type of computer tapes. All forms of printer cartridges including both inkjet and toner. All types of cell phones, pagers, PDAs and their chargers, cables, and headset accessories. All of the small computer accessories such as MP3 players, iPods, digital cameras, hand- held scanners, handheld games and other connected devices.
Items Not Accepted: No VHS tapes or audio cassettes, no business generated waste
Hours: Monday-Friday 7:00 am-2:30 pm; the first Saturday of every month 8:00 am-12:00 pm
Summer hours 6:00 am-1:30 pm (Memorial Day through Labor Day)

For more information on recycling, hazardous waste disposal, and more, you can always consult other sections of this or call us at 309-454-3169.

Introduction to Agroforestry

The Savanna Institute is hosting an Introduction to Agroforestry Workshop.  The workshop will provide detailed information on how to grow a variety of perennial plants.  The workshop also include lunch from Epiphany Farms and the opportunity to connect with like-minded people.

Sustainable Gourmet

 

The Ecology Action Center invites you to attend the fourteenth annual Sustainable Gourmet  on Thursday, November 14, at 5:30 p.m. This year’s event will feature artisanal local foods hors d’oeuvres prepared by the culinary team at Epiphany Farms, a sampling of sustainably produced wine from Uptown Normal’s Stave Wine Bar, and locally crafted beer from Keg Grove Brewing Company and Emancipation Brewing.

This popular fundraiser for the EAC includes a silent auction with fabulous items from local businesses, organizations, and individuals.  Proceeds from this fundraiser benefit the Ecology Action Center and its important environmental sustainability efforts in Bloomington-Normal and McLean County.  As part of this event, the Ecology Action Center will announce the 2019 recipients of the annual McLean County Green Awards, recognizing efforts to improve our local environment.

Sustainable Gourmet will be held at Epiphany Farms in Downtown Bloomington.  Tickets must be purchased online or at the EAC  in advance; (if you have already used our new system to make an annual contribution or other donation, be sure to sign in when you register for the event!  It will make the process even easier!) the ticket sales deadline is November 11 or when tickets are sold out, whichever comes first. This event has sold out the past five 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 sponsored by Straight Up Solar, Workbench Collaborative LLC, Renkon Yoga Studio, Stave Wine Bar, Keg Grove Brewing Company, Epiphany Farms, Emancipation Brewing, PrairiErth Farms and WGLT.

Buy tickets now

If you have already used our new system to make an annual contribution or other donation, be sure to sign in when you register for the event!  It will make the process even easier!

Compost Workshop

Join us on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. for our compost workshop! In celebration of America Recycles Day, we are debuting a brand new compost barrel exclusively sold here at the EAC. This model is made from an ultra durable, 55-gallon drum that is easy to move around the yard. The convenient size of these drums provide the perfect amount of space for compost to brew properly, and an open top that makes stirring and transporting finished compost a breeze.

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, composting minimizes land-filled residential waste and produces a valuable organic fertilizer. In addition to the multitude of environmental benefits to composting, there are many economic benefits as well. This includes our lowest price workshop for only $10 ($5 for EAC supporters). Workshop attendees can also opt for a compost barrel with a lid and bungee cord attachment for an additional $20 ($30 total, $25 total for EAC supporters).

If you’ve ever considered backyard composting, now is the time to learn all about it. Along with your 55-gallon compost barrel, this 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.

55-gallon compost barrel

55-gallon compost barrel with lid and bungee cord attachments

Workshop space is limited and pre-registration is required. Please bring an appropriate vehicle to transport your compost barrel home.

Workshop location and other pertinent details will be sent out prior to the workshop.

Ecology Action Center cautions residents in selection of alternative energy suppliers

For immediate release
November 3, 2019
Contact: Larissa Armstrong
Phone: (309) 454-3169 x.15

The Ecology Action Center has received numerous inquiries lately regarding letters or postcards people got from Arcadia Power offering energy savings through community solar, or other renewable energy sources.  One of our roles as an energy educator in the community is to ensure residents are able to make informed choices about their energy consumption, and understand different ways to reduce energy costs through efficiency upgrades and renewable energy investment.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office has noted that the majority of residents that switch to alternative energy suppliers end up paying more for their energy.  There are a few key elements to understand and consider before signing up with an alternate energy supplier or third party energy broker.

What is an alternate energy supplier?

Illinois has a deregulated energy market, which allows alternative energy suppliers to sell energy to customers. Alternative energy suppliers are for-profit companies that sell electricity and natural gas to consumers. They offer the exact same energy that your traditional public utility provides, but they can charge higher prices because their prices are not regulated by the state. If consumers choose to receive energy from an alternate supplier, they still receive a monthly bill from Ameren and their alternate supplier is listed on the bill next to the supply rate.
Arcadia Power is not an alternate energy supplier, but instead a third party energy broker. They do not sell energy users power directly – they contract through other alternate suppliers the same way consumers or municipalities can directly.

What is municipal aggregation?

Municipal aggregation is an option for a municipality to choose an alternate energy supplier for their community. Bloomington and Normal both have municipal aggregation agreements for Ameren residents through June 2020. Through those agreements, residents receive their energy supply from MidAmerican Energy.

Renewable Energy Credits

Some alternate energy suppliers offer “green” energy through Renewable Energy Credits or RECs. MidAmerican offers a green energy option through Bloomington and Normal’s municipal aggregation program. In Bloomington, the green energy option at 5.07 cents per kWh is the default. In Normal, residents could choose from a base rate of 4.98 cents per kWh or select the green energy option at 5.07 cents per kWh.
Through green plans, the energy supplier pledges to buy RECs from a company that produces power from renewable sources, such as wind. That renewable energy producer agrees to produce and deliver an amount of renewable energy to the grid that is equal to the amount of energy you consumed. In this case, MidAmerican purchased RECs from a wind producer that generated wind electricity in Texas.

Participating in a green energy program where the supplier uses the REC system does not mean your home is being powered by renewable energy. Instead, it is an investment in renewable energy; but not necessarily an investment in renewable energy here in Illinois.

Arcadia Power is offering renewable energy through this same REC process. Any offers for community solar would also use RECs because Arcadia Power is not one of the developers that was awarded a community solar array project here in Illinois through the Illinois Power Agency’s lottery. Again, they are not a direct energy supplier, so any energy they sell you, whether renewable or not, is through another energy supplier and they are just the third party broker.

There will be options to invest in community solar in Illinois in the near future when some of the arrays that were selected through the lottery process are completed and developers begin selling subscriptions.

Community Solar

Community solar is an option for Illinois Ameren and CommEd residents to purchase subscriptions to large solar arrays operating in their utility territory. Purchasing a subscription to a community solar array will give consumers credit on their energy bill for energy produced by their portion of the solar array.

If the subscription fee consumers pay for their community solar is at a rate lower than their current electricity supply rate, investing in community solar will help them invest in renewable energy in Illinois, and reduce their energy costs at the same time.

Energy Supply Rates

Choosing alternate energy suppliers or third party brokers comes down to understanding the current price you pay for your electricity and the price the other vendors are offering.

Ameren is the default public electricity utility for Bloomington and Normal (for residents and businesses that are not in Corn Belt territory). The current Ameren rate is 4.715 cents per kWh for October through May 2020 (historically it was 4.658 from June – October 2018, 5.038 from October – May 2019, and was 4.561 from June – September 2019). As mentioned in the municipal aggregation section above, Ameren territory residents that did not opt-out of the aggregation program have paid a flat rate of 5.07 cents per kWh in Bloomington and either 4.98 cents per kWh or 5.07 in Normal depending on whether or not residents chose the green option. These rates began July 1, 2018 and end June 30, 2020.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office reported that between June of 2014 and May of 2018, customers in Illinois overpaid for alternative electricity by over $600 million.
Regardless of what salespeople for alternative energy suppliers tell you, you are not required to enroll with an alternative supplier. Taking no action will leave you with the supplier chosen by your municipality – which has contracted a flat rate for two year, or with your public utility (Ameren in our area) as a default – and their rates are regulated by a state agency.

The Ecology Action Center wants to help consumers understand all these elements, so if they choose to utilize offers from alternate suppliers or third party brokers, they can make the choice from an informed position, and avoid paying more for the energy supply in the long run.

 

Rain Barrel Workshop

Join us at our upcoming rain barrel workshop on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 6:00 p.m., where YOU build your own water-saving rain water collection and storage container.

Workshop prices are $45 ($35 EAC member price).

  • A reused, 55-gallon, food-grade, heavy-gauge plastic barrel (non-food-grade)
  • A flexible plastic elbow to direct rain water from your downspout to your rain barrel. Fits 3″ downspouts.
  • A 6″ heavy duty screen to prevent entry of mosquitoes and leaves
  • High-quality fittings 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: The construction process can get a bit messy so wear clothes that can get dirty. The barrels measure 25″ x 35″ and weigh 25 pounds. Bring an appropriate vehicle to transport your barrel home. There is a limit of one rain barrel per household per workshop. For safety reasons, all participants must be 18 years or older.

Pre-2011 EAC rain barrels:

If you built or bought an EAC rain barrel during or prior to 2011, please check to see if the lid of your barrel fits properly and there are nor holes or gaps that would allow mosquitoes inside the barrel; they can fit through very small gaps or cracks. If your rain barrel seals poorly or has noticeable cracks/gaps – you can attend a new workshop and replace your old barrel for a new one with a secure lid at a reduced price (see that option on the registration form below)

Mega Rain Harvester

275gal mega rain harvester

*Note: If you are interested in a 275 gallon mega rain harvester (measure about 4′ x 4′ x 4′ and weigh 50 pounds), we are not building 275-gallon mega rain harvesters in this workshop, but they are available for purchase and delivery. They are $100 or $90 for EAC supporters plus tax. We can also deliver in Bloomington-Normal for $25 and in the rest of McLean County for $50. Please contact the Ecology Action Center if you are interested in a mega rain harvester 309-454-3169.

Illinois Solar for All Presentation

Illinois Solar for All is part of the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act renewable energy legislation. ILSFA is designed to increase access to solar for low-income communities and the non-profits and public facilities that serve them.

The Ecology Action Center is a designated Grassroots Educator for the program, and will offer presentations and open houses at the Activity and Recreation Center, Mid-Central Community Action, Habitat for Humanity, and the West Bloomington Revitalization Project to help educate the community about the program so eligible residents and organizations can take advantage.

Presentations will cover: Understanding your energy bill, solar basics, ILSFA program details and eligibility.

EAC seeks nominations for 2019 McLean County Green Awards

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
September 30, 2019

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

The Ecology Action Center presents the annual McLean County Green Awards to recognize local efforts to improve our environment.  Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 awards, with recipients being named in November at the EAC’s annual fall event, the Sustainable Gourmet.

The McLean County Recycling and Waste Reduction Award identifies businesses, schools or organizations with outstanding recycling programs or waste reduction efforts or individuals who have played a role in a successful program or effort. While nominations will be accepted for any recycling or waste reduction project, areas of growing interest include source reduction efforts, especially alternatives to single use items (plastic or paper grocery bags,

The Anne McGowan Making a World of Difference Award recognizes outstanding projects, activities, or individuals in McLean County who promote environmental awareness or natural resource conservation. The EAC dedicated the World of Difference Award in memory of McGowan, an early director of the EAC, due to her ability to inspire and motivate others to take action.  Former EAC Executive Director Michelle Covi described Anne as a catalyst for action.

She was energetic and never hesitated to get her hands dirty. Her natural curiosity and love of the natural world fueled her passion for wildlife exploration and preservation. She shared her love with children and adults alike when she conducted nature walks, wildflower walks, and nature programs. She inspired and nurtured life-long dedication to environmental awareness and conservation in children, college students, and adults whose lives she touched.

In the spirit of Anne, the EAC seeks nominations of worthy projects, organizations, or individuals in nomination for the Anne McGowan Making World of Difference Award or the McLean County Recycling and Waste Reduction Award. Current EAC Executive Director Michael Brown suggested, “if more of us followed the outstanding example set by Anne McGowan, the world would be a much better place.”

Nominations may be made online at ecologyactioncenter.org/green-awards/ or by stopping by the Ecology Action Center at 202 W College Avenue in Normal; all submissions are due by Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 5 p.m. The recipients of the 2019 awards will be named at the EAC’s annual Sustainable Gourmet event on Thursday, November 14, 2019. 

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.

Seasons of Change on Henry’s Farm – Screening

The newly established Food Studies minor program at Illinois State University is hosting a sneak preview of a new

documentary that follows local farmer Henry Brockman as he grows food for the community on his sustainable farm, while grappling with the future of farming on personal, generational, and global levels.

“Surrounded by the vast corn and soybean fields of central Illinois, Henry and Hiroko Brockman have run have run an idyllic, biodiverse family farm tucked into the wooded hills of the Mackinaw River valley for over a quarter century. Although Henry is passionate about raising over 650 varieties of organic vegetables every year, he also knows his body needs a break from the physical demands of farming. And so he takes a year’s sabbatical with Hiroko in her native Japan. But the results of the sabbatical turn out to be very different from what he anticipated – with his intimate knowledge of soil, plants, and weather, Henry has to acknowledge that things can’t continue as before because climate change has arrived on his doorstep.”

Please join us for this sneak preview, and please invite people in your networks who are interested in sustainable agriculture and farming in the context of a changing climate. There will be a discussion with the film’s subject, Henry Brockman; Director/Producer Ines Sommer; and Producer Terra Brockman immediately following the screening.