Environmental Committee

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Provide additional resources to your agency by becoming involved with the IPRA Environmental Committee. Our mission is: “To increase awareness and provide tools to help agencies achieve environmental sustainability in their communities.” It is a sub-committee of the Parks and Natural Resource Section (PNRMS). Our meeting dates are on the first Wednesday of the month at 1:00 at Schaumburg Park District’s Spring Valley Nature Center.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Upcoming workshop for Parks staff, Park and Natural Resource Section members, MIPE members, etc. - Registration information below!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Learn to save the planet one bottle at a time


Thursday, August 6, 2009

30 Things You Should Never Compost or Recycle

Posted: 23 Jul 2009 12:40 AM PDT
Remember the good ole daysback when we only had one
bin for trash?  In retrospect, those days were actually more
wasteful that good. We sent things to the landfill that might
have nourished our yards, and buried them side-by-side
with materials which should have been reclaimed and put back
in the production chain. Today, most of us have two bins: one
for compost, and another for recycling. They’re great for
reducing curbside trash. But not everything suitable for one
bin or the other. We’ve rounded up thirty things people
mistakenly try to compost or recycle. In the case of composting,
we chose items generally avoided by experienced compost
gurus. For recycling, we’ve picked things prohibited by most
municipal sytems, or of limited use to commercial recyclers.

Ready? To the bins!

Never Compost

Do not compost
Bread products: This includes cakes, pasta, and most baked
goods. Put any of these items in your compost pile, and you’ve
rolled out the welcome mat for unwanted pests.
Cooking oil: Smells like food to animal and insect visitors. It
can also upset the compost’s moisture balance.
Diseased plants: Trash them, instead. You don’t want to
transfer fungal or bacterial problems to whatever ends up
growing in your finished compost.
Heavily coated or printed paper: This is a long list, including
magazines, catalogs, printed cards, and most printed or metallic
wrapping paper. Foils don’t break down, and you don’t need a
bunch of exotic printing chemicals in your compost.
Human or animal feces: Too much of a health risk. This includes
kitty litter. Waste and bedding from non-carnivorous pets should
be fine.
Meat products: This includes bones, blood, fish, and animal fats.
Another pest magnet.
Milk products: Refrain from composting milk, cheese, yogurt, and
cream. While they’ll certainly degrade, they are attractive to pests.
Rice: Cooked rice is unusually fertile breeding ground for the kinds
of bacteria you don’t want in your pile. Raw rice attracts varmints.
Sawdust: So tempting. But unless you know the wood it came
from was untreated, stay away.
Stubborn garden plants: Dandelions, ivy, and kudzu are examples
of plants or weeds which will probably regard your compost heap
as a great place to grow, rather than decompose.
Used personal products: Tampons, diapers, and items soiled in
human blood or fluids are a health risk.
Walnuts: These contain juglone, a natural aromatic compound
toxic to some plants.
It should be pointed out that there are a minority of people who
 compost practically everything, including items on this list.
We’ve stuck to composting best practices, omitting things
which obviously don’t belong in the garden (paint, motor oil, etc.).
We’ve also skipped disputed or iffy items, such as dryer lint and
highly acidic citrus fruit.

Never Recycle

Do not recycle logo
Aerosol cans: Sure, they’re metal. But since spray cans also
contain propellants and chemicals, most municipal systems treat
them as hazardous material.
Batteries: These are generally handled separately from both
regular trash and curbside recycling.
Brightly dyed paper: Strong paper dyes work just like that
Ceramics and pottery: This includes things such as coffee
mugs. You may be able to use these in the garden.
Diapers: It is not commercially feasible to reclaim the paper
and plastic in disposable diapers.
Hazardous waste: This includes household chemicals, motor
oil, antifreeze, and other liquid coolants. Motor oil is recyclable,
but it is usually handled separately from household items.
Find out how your community handles hazardous materials
before you need those services.
Household glass: Window panes, mirrors, light bulbs, and
tableware are impractical to recycle. Bottles and jars are
usually fine. Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) are
recyclable, but contain a small amount of mercury and
shouldn’t be treated as common household bulbs. For ideas
on how to handle them, see Five Ways to Dispose of Old
Juice boxes and coated cardboard drink containers.
Some manufacturers have begun producing recyclable
containers. These will be specially marked. The rest are
not suitable for reprocessing.
Medical waste: Syringes, tubing, scalpels, and other
biohazards should be disposed as such.
Napkins and paper towels: Discouraged because of
what they may have absorbed. Consider composting.
Pizza boxes: Too much grease. While some compost
enthusiasts steer clear of adding pizza box cardboard
to their pile, others report no problems. It’s that or
the trash.
Plastic bags and plastic wrap: If possible, clean and
reuse the bags. Make sure neither gets into the environment.
Plastic-coated boxes, plastic food boxes,
or plastic without recycling marks: Dispose safely.
Plastic screw-on tops: Dispose separately from recyclable
plastic bottles. Remember that smaller caps are a choking hazard.
Styrofoam: See if your community has a special facility for this.
Tires: Many states require separate disposal of tires (and collect
a fee at the point of sale for that purpose).
Tyvek shipping envelopes: These are the kind used by the
post office and overnight delivery companies.
Wet paper: In general, recyclers take a pass on paper items
which have been exposed to water. The fibers may be damaged,
and there are contamination risks.
Your municipal recycling system gets the final say as to what
belongs in your bin. Some areas will restrict more items that
we’ve listed. Other have special programs for dealing with
problematic materials. In most cases, municipal systems
are happy to provide written guidelines. Wondering how to
recycle something your local system won’t take? Pop over
to the Earth911 website and see what is available in your area.

Products? Don’t!
Posted: 22 Jul 2009 01:09 PM PDT
Home foreclosure
I don’t know her real name, so we’ll call her Melissa. Her story
was told to me last week by a Lighter Footstep reader. Melissa
is a schoolgirl living near Houston .  Melissa attends a summer
program for kids. During the afternoon, she gets a free meal
and makes craft projects centered around lessons of recycling
and reuse. But she spends her evenings at home in the family
bathroom, hiding from the Texas heat. There’s no air
conditioning at Melissa’s house, just a block of ice and a fan
set up by the bathtub. It’s boring in the bathroom, but
it’s cooler.   Melissa’s parents probably don’t give much
thought to global warming: They worry whether the house
will be cool enough at night for everyone to sleep. The family
isn’t concerned about summertime power bills driving up their
carbon footprint. Instead, they’ll just try to keep the light
bill paid. And they certainly won’t fret about whether or
not Melissa’s back-to-school supplies are eco-friendly.
Sending her to class with the basics will be challenging enough.

Times, they’re hard...

This Houston family is struggling more than many, but
they’re not far across the tracks from Middle America .
Perhaps you’re also experiencing the pinch of a troubled economy. People are being put out of their homes. Unemployment is flirting with double digits, one in three Americans under the age of 65 lives without health insurance, and official metrics fail to measure the real misery index being felt both in the United States and overseas.
With such pressure being brought to bear on household budgets, you’d think consumers would think twice about spending extra for more environmentally friendly products. That’s not the caseif what people tell survey companies is to be taken seriously.
In survey after survey, buyers continue to say they’re willing to pay a premium from greener goods. While some green business expertsJoel Makower, for onewonder if these rosy reports more accurately reflect consumer ideals than actual practice, there’s no disputing the widespread sentiment for healthier, greener products. Or the higher price you’ll pay for the privilege.

Spending our way to Sustainability

An electronic cash register
You don’t have to look far to find the engine of all this eco-product enthusiasm. First, people are genuinely concerned about the environment. They appreciate the fact that the world is at a tipping point, and the way we live has to change. They’re motivated by the desire to improve their lives, and society as a whole.
But the old ways die hard. Conscious Consumerism is still Consumerism, whether or not it bears a green label. There remains the persistent conviction that if we just buy the right things, we can shop our way to a more sustainable planet.
Eco-themed websites and publications increasingly read like product catalogues, regurgitating press releases from marketing firms eager to cash in on Green. Madison Avenue has done a good job creating an idealized image of the green consumer: Driving a shiny new new eco car, wearing luxurious eco fashions, and sipping $4 Fair Trade soy lattes while prowling the aisles of their local whole foods supermarket.

It’s not what you buy

Greener products are a great thing, and they’ll become less expensive with availability. But for many, their desirability is tempered by the reality of family economics. The fact also remains that it’s not what you buy that makes you green, but what you don’t. Hybrid autos are a good green choice, but so is dusting off that bicycle and driving less. Eco fashion is terrific, but so is learning to repair old clothing or buying secondhand.
In a broad society, we’re all stepping onto the green path in different places. Every step counts, big or smallthe idea is to keep everyone moving. Take the topic of school supplies, for instance. If you accuse someone of being “less green” for choosing a school notebook with some recycled content over one that’s more robustly sustainable, you’re likely to push them off the path entirely. That’s unproductive.
What is productive is reducing consumption. It’s a common-sense strategy that everyone can afford, in good times and bad. It’s our mission here at Lighter Footstep, where Living Cheap Is the New Green. And if this is the path you find yourself walking, we hope you’ll share with us your daily challenges and victories.


The 3/50 Project

Check it out!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Helpful Green Links

1. SCARE stands for School and Community Assistance for Composting, Recycling & Education. Their link is http://www.bookrescue.org/

2. Links for Green Purchasing: http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/jul/16/sp-wal-mart-blazes-eco-rating-path/news-money/



Thursday, July 2, 2009

Get Green With Your iPhone

The iTunes app store has a free upload called 3rd Whale that locates green products and businesses. The app currently has listings for 30 major North American cities. Not only will 3rd Whale sync with Google Maps to give your directions, you can also write a review of the business and upload it to the app and to Facebook!

Coke 'Trashes' English Coastline - Giant Recycled Sculpture Unveiled (Video)


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trash in the Pacific Ocean


The Life Cycle of Trash

Learn more about the Life Cycle of Trash here: 


University of Illinois Green Extension Network

Looking for more information about the U of I Extension for DuPage County? Check out the following website: www.extension.uiuc.edu/dupage

Upcoming Events

World Population Day - held annually every July 11th.


International Day of the World's Indigenous People - held annually on August 9th.

International Youth Day - held annually on August 12th. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Upcoming Recognition Days