Sugar Creek Stewards Workday

Come join us for our November workday along Sugar Creek! We need help improving Sugar Creek in designated areas throughout Bloomington and Normal, by clearing invasive plant species and managing the non-invasive plants.

scs logo

COVID-19 Protocol: All volunteers are required to wear masks when standing within 10 feet of EAC staff or other volunteers. This work can be largely independent, so there might be opportunities for volunteers to take their masks off if working in a spot far from other people, but be prepared to wear a mask as the default. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own tools, gloves, and reusable water bottle. 

Volunteers must be 18 years old or older (or 14 and accompanied by a parent or guardian) and be able to hike along uneven terrain and safely use basic hand tools such as loppers and bow saws.

The Sugar Creek Stewards is part of the Ecology Action Center’s Clean Water programming, and is supported by the City of Bloomington and the Town of Normal. For more information, contact us.

barry-mantis

 

To register, please fill out this volunteer liability waiver form.

 

 

 

Fall 2020 Household Hazardous Waste Update

Explosive. Corrosive. Flammable. Toxic.

A comprehensive description of 2020? No. Well, maybe. But these terms do capture another topic of imminent concern: Household Hazardous Waste. Household hazardous wastes are substances that can harm human health or the environment.

This year McLean County residents have been carving out space for home offices and homeschooling. As residents have been cleaning out garages, sheds and basements, the Ecology Action Center has received a great many inquiries about proper HHW disposal practices, drop-off sites, and collection events. We know that getting hazardous household waste items out of your way has been a priority, and we’re glad to hear from so many members of our community acting on that personal responsibility to protect the environment by disposing of items with warning labels. What can you do to safely and lawfully dispose of cleaners, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, oil-based paints, antifreeze, pesticides, and similar hazardous household products? Here are your options:

Community Reuse

The fastest, easiest, and most environmentally sound way to get these items out of your way is to donate them to someone who will use them. Online platforms like FreecycleFacebook Marketplace, and Nextdoor.com offer convenient, safe venues where community members can offer or seek items for reuse. If you’ve hesitated or shied away from these online platforms because you’re not sure how to use them, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to help you get started: https://ecologyactioncenter.org/guide-to-community-reuse/

Recycling

Some hazardous items can be recycled, or materials reclaimed. Automotive fluids such as oil, antifreeze, diesel and gasoline can be reclaimed through local drop-offs. Automotive batteries and used tires can also be reclaimed, and are accepted by some local retailers. Visit RecycleBN.org or download the Recycle Coach app for up-to-date listings, hours and contact information.

HHW Collection Events and Collection Sites

These events/locations do not accept:

  • Latex paint – because it’s not hazardous. If unable to find someone who can use it, dry it out completely and discard with trash.
  • Smoke detectors – due to radioactive content, these should be routed back to the manufacturer.
  • Needles or controlled substances – use proper sharps containers/services to dispose of needles. There are several pharmaceutical drop-off locations in the area – see RecycleBN.org for more information. Call ahead to verify hours and procedures, and please note that these sites generally do not take liquids, lotions, ointments, or inhalers.
  • Automotive batteries – see Recycle Coach for local reclamation options.
  • Propane tanks, fire extinguishers, or explosives – check with manufacturers for disposal options
  • Non-residential items such as agricultural chemicals and business wastes – contact a commercial disposal service such as Safety-Kleen

Locally Funded Collection Events

At the last McLean County HHW Collection in the fall of 2019, our new drive-through appointment system worked wonders to increase efficiency. The average time on site for a drop-off was under 20 minutes, and some residents were in and out in as little as 7 minutes! Fundraising is now underway for the fall 2021 McLean County HHW collection event. We need your help to make this happen! Please donate today at HHWmclean.org.

State-Funded Collection Events

The Illinois EPA is increasing the number of one-day HHW collection events and hopefully will soon fund another McLean County event.  Meanwhile, there are other events within a reasonable drive; as these are state-funded, they are open to any Illinois resident bringing residentially-generated hazardous waste items.

October 10, 2020
Iroquois County Administration Building
1001 E. Grant St.
Watseka, IL 60970

November 7, 2020 **
Illinois State Fair Grounds (specific location TBD)
801 E. Sangamon Ave
Springfield, IL 62702
** This event requires registration in advance.  Register at www.springfield.il.us/hhw

HHW Permanent Collection Sites

The State of Illinois provides four household hazardous waste drop-off facilities. Though they are not conveniently located for central Illinois residents, they do provide an outlet when other options simply won’t work for you. Just like the HHW collection events, these facilities accept residential waste only. In some cases storage capacity may be limited, so please phone ahead before dropping off items.

City of Chicago – Goose Island
(312) 744-7672
1150 N. North Branch / Chicago, IL
Tue 7:00 am – 12:00 pm
Thu 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
1st Saturday of every month 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Naperville
(630) 420-6095
156 Fort Hill Drive / Naperville, IL
Sun 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Sat 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Rock River Reclamation District
(815) 987-5570
3333 Kishwaukee Street / Rockford, IL
By appointment only

Solid Waste Agency of Lake County
(847) 336-9340
1311 N. Estes St, Gurnee, IL 60031
By appointment only

The Ecology Action Center is always available to answer questions, provide community education, offer alternative options when possible, in order to help ensure these substances are handled properly so they don’t end up in our regional landfills or waterways. We continue to monitor policy and new developments surrounding safe disposal of HHW. We are working very hard to meet the needs of McLean County residents, and are optimistic about our prospects for more convenient options in the near future.  Your help and financial support can help make that happen.

You can help!

  •  Reduce – purchase only as much hazardous substance as you need
  • Route usable materials for community reuse
  • Recycle when possible
  • Take unusable portions of non-recyclable hazardous products to a collection event or site
  • Donate today at HHWmclean.org to support our next local HHW collection event, anticipated for fall 2021 OR to help support a future local permanent HHW collection facility.

Four local nonprofit organizations benefit from Illinois Solar For All

The Ecology Action Center announced Monday that four Bloomington-Normal nonprofit agencies are among the first in McLean County selected for solar projects through the Illinois Solar for All program.  The solar projects were selected on Wednesday, September 9, and are subject to the approval of the Illinois Commerce Commission in the coming weeks. If approved, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, the Wayman AME Church, the Normal Township Activity and Recreation Center, and the Christ Church PCA will all receive solar installations that will significantly reduce their overall energy costs for years to come. Local solar installer StraightUp Solar is working with all four organizations on their solar installations.  The Ecology Action Center is a grassroots educator for Illinois Solar for All and works to promote and educate the local community on the program.

Illinois Solar for All (ILSFA) is a key outcome of the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act and is designed to increase access to solar energy for low-income and environmental justice communities. ILSFA works by increasing incentives (solar renewable energy credits or SRECs) for income-qualifying projects. The solar developers and contractors (called Approved Vendors) who complete projects in ILSFA receive these increased incentives and are then able to offer installations with no upfront costs for income-qualifying residents and low or no upfront costs for qualifying nonprofits and public facilities. Approved Vendors are not allowed to charge participants more than 50% of the value of the energy produced by the solar systems. This enables ILSFA participants to reap the energy-saving benefits of solar without having to overcome the obstacle of financing a solar installation all at once.

The Ecology Action Center (EAC) just started its second year serving as a grassroots educator for ILSFA. EAC worked directly with several of the nonprofits selected to receive solar through the program to both educate those organizations about the benefits of ILSFA and to reach residents those organizations serve. ILSFA is a multi-year program, and there are still opportunities for McLean County residents to participate. Larissa Armstrong, EAC Assistant Director said, “We are really excited to see local organizations benefit from the ILSFA program, and are hopeful even more residents and organizations in our community will get to do the same.”

On-site solar installations are available for single-family homes that meet the income eligibility requirement, and for multi-family properties where half the residents meet these income requirements. Community solar is available for any household in Ameren territory that meets the income eligibility requirement. Check the EAC’s energy program site at bnenergybright.org/illinois-solar-for-all for details on income eligibility.

The Ecology Action Center’s role is to educate residents and organizations on how they can benefit from this program, either providing information directly to individuals or offering brief online overview presentations to organizations and community groups. The EAC helps eligible residents and organizations access the ILSFA program and the benefits of solar.  Contact Larissa Armstrong, at [email protected] or 309-454-3169 x.15 to learn more or schedule a group presentation.

Green Reads Book Club

The EAC launched Green Reads, our first community-wide book club, in April 2020 in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, and as a way to build community during the pandemic.

The purpose of Green Reads is to create opportunities to build knowledge, deepen commitments, and take further action to protect clean water, improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency, and reduce waste, for a more sustainable a healthy local environment for all.

There are two ways to participate in Green Reads:

Green Reads Facebook Group:  The Facebook group membership will be not limited in size; anyone can keep pace with the reading assignments there and engage in discussion with other readers.  Please join us on Facebook! 

Green Reads Zoom Group:  Green Reads Zoom participants will participate in real-time book club meet-ups using Zoom remote meeting platform every other Friday from noon to 1 p.m. starting September 11, 2020 through December 18, 2020.  Participation in the Green Reads Zoom Group is limited to twelve participants in order to allow for a small enough group to allow for easy discussion and participation by all of those attending.  Please only register for this if you are available at this weekly meeting time.  Participation in this limited group is first-come, first serve.  The Green Reads Zoom Group registration is open until full using the ONLINE REGISTRATION FORM. Once the group has reached capacity, this link will be deactivated.

Upcoming Books:

Starting Friday, September 11, and meeting every other week through December 18 we will focus on the topic of Climate Change, and methods for rebuilding a a sustainable green economy.

Our first book will be The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where We Go From Here by Hope Jahren.  Meeting dates for this book are the following Fridays from noon-1:00pm:  9/11/20, 9/25/20, 10/9/20, and 10/23/20.  

“Hope Jahren is an award-winning scientist, a brilliant writer, a passionate teacher, and one of the seven billion people with whom we share this earth. In The Story of More, she illuminates the link between human habits and our imperiled planet. In concise, highly readable chapters, she takes us through the science behind the key inventions–from electric power to large-scale farming to automobiles–that, even as they help us, release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere like never before. She explains the current and projected consequences of global warming–from superstorms to rising sea levels–and the actions that we all can take to fight back. At once an explainer on the mechanisms of global change and a lively, personal narrative given to us in Jahren’s inimitable voice, The Story of More is the essential pocket primer on climate change that will leave an indelible impact on everyone who reads it.”

On November 6 we will begin discussing A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Carbon Emissions by Mohammed Yunus.  Meeting dates for this book are on the following Fridays from noon-1:00pm:  11/6/20, 11/20/20, 12/4/20, and 12/18/20.

“Muhammad Yunus, who created microcredit, invented social business, and earned a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in alleviating poverty, is one of today’s most trenchant social critics. Now he declares it’s time to admit that the capitalist engine is broken–that in its current form it inevitably leads to rampant inequality, massive unemployment, and environmental destruction. We need a new economic system that unleashes altruism as a creative force just as powerful as self-interest. Is this a pipe dream? Not at all. In the last decade, thousands of people and organizations have already embraced Yunus’s vision of a new form of capitalism, launching innovative social businesses designed to serve human needs rather than accumulate wealth. They are bringing solar energy to millions of homes in Bangladesh; turning thousands of unemployed young people into entrepreneurs through equity investments; financing female-owned businesses in cities across the United States; bringing mobility, shelter, and other services to the rural poor in France; and creating a global support network to help young entrepreneurs launch their start-ups. In A World of Three Zeros, Yunus describes the new civilization emerging from the economic experiments his work has helped to inspire. He explains how global companies like McCain, Renault, Essilor, and Danone got involved with this new economic model through their own social action groups, describes the ingenious new financial tools now funding social businesses, and sketches the legal and regulatory changes needed to jumpstart the next wave of socially driven innovations. And he invites young people, business and political leaders, and ordinary citizens to join the movement and help create the better world we all dream of.”

 

*The links provided for the books link to Bookshop.org. Purchasing books online through Bookshop.org supports independent booksellers across the country, including our own local independent bookstore – Bobzbay*

NOTE: Participation in either the Green Reads Facebook Group or Green Reads Zoom Group is limited to individuals 18 years old or above.  This is an adult level discussion group and the Ecology Action Center has no responsibility for the opinions or comments presented by any participants.  At the same time, participation is contingent upon respectful conduct.  The Ecology Action Center reserves the right to mute, remove, or block any individual at any time.

Kids program: The Wonder Ears Book Club

At each meeting of “The Wonder Ears Book Club”, children are asked to ponder a question or two before listening to the day’s reading. After the reading concludes, each participant is invited to send us their thoughts, ideas, and questions.

This program is geared toward ages 5 to 12. Programs are expected to last 20 to 25 minutes, and pre-registration is required for live participation.

Required: internet access to Zoom meetings, with a recommended bandwidth of 1.5 Mbps (minimum 600 Kbps)

Access: a Zoom link will be emailed to all registered participants.

REGISTER HERE!

Kids program: Watershed Down StoryMakers

In our Watershed Down StoryMakers program, participants add their own ideas and roll a few dice to invent pieces of each adventure, as we explore the sometimes hidden and sometimes magical world that only our water knows.

This program is geared toward ages 7 to 12. Programs are expected to last 20 to 25 minutes, and pre-registration is required for live participation.

Required: internet access to Zoom meetings, with a recommended bandwidth of 1.5 Mbps (minimum 600 Kbps)

Optional: dice

Access: a Zoom link will be emailed to all registered participants.

REGISTER HERE!

Kids program: The Wonder Ears Book Club

At each meeting of “The Wonder Ears Book Club”, children are asked to ponder a question or two before listening to the day’s reading. After the reading concludes, each participant is invited to send us their thoughts, ideas, and questions.

This program is geared toward ages 5 to 12. Programs are expected to last 20 to 25 minutes, and pre-registration is required for live participation.

Required: internet access to Zoom meetings, with a recommended bandwidth of 1.5 Mbps (minimum 600 Kbps)

Access: a Zoom link will be emailed to all registered participants.

REGISTER HERE!

Kids program: Watershed Down StoryMakers

In our Watershed Down StoryMakers program, participants add their own ideas and roll a few dice to invent pieces of each adventure, as we explore the sometimes hidden and sometimes magical world that only our water knows.

This program is geared toward ages 7 to 12. Programs are expected to last 20 to 25 minutes, and pre-registration is required for live participation.

Required: internet access to Zoom meetings, with a recommended bandwidth of 1.5 Mbps (minimum 600 Kbps)

Optional: dice

Access: a Zoom link will be emailed to all registered participants.

REGISTER HERE!