Ecology Action Center Holds Radon Update January 22

Radon is an odorless, colorless, naturally-occurring, radioactive gas that enters our homes from the soil.  We can easily ignore it because it doesn’t bother our senses in any way.  However, it is the number one cause of lung cancer after smoking.  Every home should be tested for radon; if the level is 4 picocuries per liter or higher, a radon mitigation system should be installed.

The Ecology Action Center will hold a free public information session on Radon January 22, 2013 at the Normal Public Library from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Pre-registration is not required; residents should bring radon questions and concerns to be addressed.  Information is also available by calling the EAC at (309) 454-3169 and talking to Ruth Ann Lipic, the Community Radon Coordinator.

Among other topics to be discussed, Ms. Lipic will cover two new radon bills which were signed into law this past year in Illinois.  The first requires radon testing in Day Care facilities, which the second, the Radon Resistant Construction Act, requires all new construction in Illinois to be built radon resistant.  More information on either of these new regulations is available through Ruth Ann Lipic at the Ecology Action Center.

Radon test kits will be available for purchase at the presentation for $10.00 or are available at the Ecology Action Center during regular office hours.

Full Press Release

Christmas Tree Recycling

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 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.

Experience Winter in Funks Grove

Friday, December 28, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (For children ages 6 to 12)

Don’t let your child spend the entire winter break inside! Instead, have him or her step into the brisk air to explore, look for animal tracks, learn about snowflakes, take a hike, create a wintery craft, and much more! Sugar Grove Nature Center is a great place to build a connection with nature and make friends. Hot dogs over the campfire and chicken noodle soup will be served for lunch—you may pack a lunch if desired. However, remember to dress your child for outdoor exploration! This program is sponsored by the McLean County Sportsmen’s Association.

Fee: $10/child members, $14/child non-members; Registration required.

 For more information or to register, phone 309.874.2174 or email

Green Top Community Meeting

Come get an update on Green Top’s progress and learn how you can help us continue to grow! You can also become and Owner or purchase an Ownership as a gift!

Town of Normal Signs Aggregation Contract for 100% Renewable Electricity

The Town of Normal today signed an agreement which will save its Ameren residential customers 27% on electrical supply costs. The Town’s contract with Homefield Energy, an Ameren subsidiary, locks in a rate of 4.099 cents per kilowatt hour. This compares to Ameren’s summer rate of 5.8 cents and non-summer rate of 5.4 cents. Normal’s 17-month contract with Homefield calls for power to be supplied from 100% renewable sources.

All eligible Ameren customers will receive an Opt Out letter between December 18 and January 6 to return if they do not want to participate in aggregation. Customers who do not return the Opt Out letter will receive a second notice giving them an additional opportunity to Opt Out of the program. Normal customers who choose not to Opt Out should begin enjoying new rates in February with cost savings reflected in March electricity bills.

Normal residents approved electrical aggregation in the Nov. 6 General Election joining more than 400 Illinois communities, counties and townships who aggregate electrical use. Normal and 54 other communities who approved aggregation in November and are represented by broker Good Energy met in three locations around the state to await bids from power providers. Bids with extremely competitive rates were received from three suppliers – Constellation, First Energy and Homefield Energy. Homefield, the chosen provider, is the residential electric supply option from Ameren Energy Marketing, a retail electric supplier that operates independently from Ameren Illinois Company. Ameren Energy Marketing is a subsidiary of Ameren Corporation.

Full Press Release (pdf)


The Illinois Green Business Association is hiring

The Illinois Green Business Association is currently looking for talented, business and sustainability minded individuals to fill the position of Certification Manager. The Certification Manager is a new position for the IGBA that would focus on working with businesses, standards, and consulting/certification services for the IGBA Green Business Certification Program. Read the full description (PDF)

IGBA will be conducting a search between the months of November and December, with an intent to hire in the first quarter of 2013.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the position further, please send your resume and/or contact Anthony Santarelli at (217)531-2179 or via email at

Season’s Greenings from the Ecology Action Center

As the holiday season is in full swing, many may be “dreaming of a white Christmas”; however a traditional holiday celebration can also be very green.  Taking the time to reduce waste, save energy, and conserve resources is a gift not only to current but also future generations.


  • Illinois law now requires residents to recycle most consumer electronics – your trash collector will not accept them for disposal in the landfill.  McLean County residents (but not businesses) can recycle them at one of many locations listed at our website.  Three local locations accept all consumer electronics with no fees or restrictions for any items – the Habitat For Humanity ReStore at 1402 W Washington in Bloomington, the Home Sweet Home Ministries Warehouse at 1704 W. Washington in Bloomington, or the Normal Public Works Garage at 1301 Warriner Street.
  • If your old holiday lights are no longer working, recycle them along with worn out extension cords at the same locations listed above.
  • Most gift wrap is recyclable except plastic wraps or metallic papers.  In addition, all cardboard and paperboard packaging is also recyclable.  If you do not have curbside recycling where you live, you may utilize the Town of Normal’s drop-off locations.
  • Better yet, save both money and resources by avoiding commercial gift wrap and use the funny pages of the newspaper instead or reusable gift bags.  You can even make your own simple gift bags with remnants of any fabric and a few quick stitches with a sewing machine.
  • Instead of more “stuff”, consider giving non-material gifts such as an experience or time together.  Whether it is taking someone out to a concert, a hike together at Sugar Grove or the Merwin Preserve, or a membership supporting the work of a local nonprofit, you can show people you care while not generating unneeded stuff.


  • Upgrade to LED Holiday lights.  LED lights can save up to 70% of the energy over traditional incandescent light strands, can last 10 times longer, and are cool to the touch so they present less of a fire hazard.  Using LED lights will reduce your energy usage, save you money, and decrease pollution from electricity generation.
  • Weatherize your home to save energy.  Simple window insulations kits are inexpensive and can significantly reduce drafts.
  • Install an inexpensive programmable thermostat and set it to turn your heat down low at night while you are asleep or away from home during the workday.
  • Put your holiday lights on a timer to avoid wasting energy during the day or when you are not at home.


  • To reduce storm water runoff pollution which contaminates our local water supplies, avoid using salt on your sidewalk and driveway when possible, shoveling instead before snow hardens and becomes slippery.


In most cases a real Christmas tree wins out over an artificial on multiple points.

  • A real tree is renewable resource that is 100% compostable as opposed to an artificial tree which is normally made from petroleum products and is not recyclable anywhere.
  • Real trees normally have a smaller carbon footprint due to being a natural product and domestic origin.  Artificial trees may be produced overseas.
  • A good choice would be a locally-harvested real tree, ideally one that has not been sprayed with any pesticides.
  • Of course, the best option yet is using what you’ve got.  Still using an artificial tree you bought in the 80’s?  Way to go!


  • Find some great gifts that help support environmental education at the Ecology Action Center including rain barrels, reusable gift wrap, and more!

Find more ways to green the holidays and everyday at


Holiday Family Nature Exploration Day

Sugar Grove Nature Center invites you to take time out during the busy holiday season to relax and enjoy the nature in Funks Grove. The Nature Center will be decked out for the holidays and the chilly winter ahead. Visit the wildlife viewing room to watch the birds dine on our buffet of bird seed, suet, and other tasty treats. Take a winter nature walk at 11:00 a.m., and then warm up with some hot chocolate. See what was left in our critters’ stocking for them to eat at 1:00 p.m. A holiday make-and-take craft will be available all day.

Boys and girls of all ages are invited to write their letters to Santa and drop them off in a special mailbox located along our Imagination Grove trail. The critters of Funks Grove will then promptly deliver them. Be sure to pick up some food to offer the animals as a “thank you.” Even if you are unable to attend Family Nature Exploration Day, the animals will be accepting and delivering Letters to Santa up until Christmas Even from dawn until dusk, even when the Nature Center isn’t open. Make this one of your Christmas traditions!

Whatever you do this winter, remember to enjoy the season for is unique gifts.
And, thank you for being a friend of Sugar Grove Nature Center.