Woods && Wetlands

Woods & Wetlands

News

Joining Illinois Sierra Club Members in Lake and Northeastern Cook Counties

Spring 2004, Issue #38

In This Issue 
Go To Article VOTE!
Primary elections are important!
Go To Article Hickory Creek & Sequoit Creek:
We're losing our best streams
Go To Article Waukegan Moorlands Go To Article W&W Outings Program
Go To Article Downwind Report - March 2004 Go To Article Sightings, V.8,#1
Go To Article Sightings, V.8,#2 Go To Article Sightings, V.8,#3
Go To Article   Go To Article Printable pdf W&W News
Go To Article Next Issue of W&W News Go To Article Last Issue of W&W News

 
 

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VOTE !
Primary elections are important!
 Return to Top

Many voters consider primary elections to be unimportant and this usually is reflected by poor voter turnout. However, in Lake County where a single party often dominates a district, the final elected official is usually determined in the primary election. For local elections the November general election is often just a formality.

That is why we MUST vote on March 16 for candidates who will support local efforts to protect our environment and to limit the environmental destruction that has become the hallmark of the Bush administration.

Locally, the most alarming development has been the reemergence of candidates for

the County Board who support more development and more destruction of our remaining agricultural heritage. The most obvious of these anti-green candidates is “Bulldozer” Bob Depke, the ex-chairman chairman of the Lake County Board who encouraged and fostered the overdevelopment that has resulted in Lake County’s horrible traffic congestion.

Candidate District Send Contributions to Phone

Lake County Board Candidates

Judy Martini
Republican

1

Friends of Judy Martini
42812 Janette Street
Antioch, IL  60002

(847)
838-2907

Sandy Cole
Republican

11

Sandy Cole for County Board
1315 Osage Orange
Grayslake, IL  60030

(847)
548-0877

Bob Powers
Republican

16

Bob Powers for County Board
1616 Melrose Lane
Round Lake Beach, IL  60073

(847)
546-8557

Illinois State Representative Candidates

Elaine Nekritz
Democrat

57

Citizens for Elaine Nekritz
PO Box 2563
Glenview, IL  60025

(847)
998-1002

Karen May
Democrat

58

Friends of Karen May
735 Green Bay Road
Highland Park, IL  60035

(847)
433-5886

US Congress Candidate

Melissa Bean
Democrat

8

Melissa Bean for Congress
715 Ela Road  
Lake Zurich, IL 60047

(847)
304-0056

US Senate Candidate

Barack Obama
Democrat

 

Obama for Illinois
P.O. Box 802799
Chicago, IL 60680-2799

(312)
427-6400

Contribute to the Sierra Club W&W PAC 

PO Box 5012, Vernon Hills, IL 60061

The Sierra Club is not endorsing any one in the 6th District race, but has reviewed the records and views of the two other candidates. Republican Larry Leafblad, former endorsed board member, must defeat Depke. Democrat Steve Skinner is unopposed in the primary. We recognize both candidates as superior to Depke.

The endorsements to the left are based on the candidates' responses to our questionnaires, on their environmental records, and on our assessment of their ability to mount a successful campaign. If the questionnaire was not returned, the candidate was not considered for endorsement.

The questionnaires considered a full range of environmental issues, and the candidate’s position on extending Rt. 53 into western Lake County was used as a key measure of their environmental foundation. The county can do many things to relieve traffic congestion, but building Rt. 53 is not one of them. This road would turn western Lake County into a bedroom community for Chicago’s western suburbs while defining the meaning of sprawl.

That is why your vote on March 16 will keep Lake County a pleasant, green place to live.

Our candidates all consider protection of our environment and our wetlands as the foundation of our future, and bring enthusiasm to the protection of our irreplaceable natural resources.

Lake County Board

Two previously endorsed candidates for the County Board, incumbents Judy Martini and Sandy Cole, have continued their record of exemplary work.

Martini is currently the chair of the County Board’s Planning, Building and Zoning Committee, and in this position actively supports smart growth policies. She is also a strong supporter of the Stormwater Management Commission, knowing that we must preserve our wetlands. Martini never fails to cast a pro-environment vote.

Cole is an intelligent and articulate defender of the environment who constantly demonstrates that being an environmentalist requires constant vigilance. Cole supports the improvement of local roads, a task that can be done quickly, and with Martini and other trusted board members, opposes the extension of Route 53. She also supports water usage analysis before a new development is approved. A vote for Cole is a vote for the protection of the quality of life in Lake County.

During his first term in office, Bob Powers has been a quiet but effective member of the County Board. Powers pledges; “As a Lake County Board member, I will do everything that I can to protect the water supply by monitoring poor drainage practices, septic systems and impermeable surfaces, and work as hard as possible to prevent explosive growth.” His vote for the environment is assured, and the Club is proud to endorse him.

 

Leadership in Springfield

With the current budget crunch caused by the excesses of previous administrations, programs that would preserve open space in Illinois have seen major budget cuts. Fortunately, many good environmental practices don’t require tax money. They only require good leadership and a zeal for saving our natural resources.

Karen May, the incumbent in District 58, who was chief sponsor in the House of the Illinois Wetlands Protection Act (HB 422), recognizes this fact. Her tireless efforts to get House approval of HB 422 is greatly appreciated. Her most recent interests are preventing the release of mercury into our air and waters by coordinating environmental efforts throughout the Great Lakes. We need to reelect her so she can continue to help us protect our environment.

In District 57, the first term incumbent Elaine Nekritz, has shown her commitment to the environment by supporting the Wetland Protection Act and voting to restrict ATVs on our state lands. She has an ambitious environmental agenda for the next legislative session, including introducing an Illinois New Resource Review Act. This act will preserve the air standards presently under attack by the Bush administration.

In 2003, both May and Nekritz received a 100% rating from the Illinois Environmental Council.

 

Find more on the election at

 VOTE    

 (http://illinois.sierraclub.org/vote/wwg.html)

 

Leadership in Washington

Over half of the Woods and Wetlands territory is in the 8th congressional district. During the last legislative session, incumbent Congressman Phil Crane sold out the environment on all votes but one, including voting to drill for oil in ANWR.

Crane is opposed in the primary by David Phelps, a member of the Crystal Lake Park District, who worked there to preserve hundreds of acres of open space and to create a hundred-plus acre wetland out of an old farm. He states that if elected to Congress his top environmental objectives would be to enact an energy policy that focuses on renewable energy, raising CAFE standards and improving air and water quality standards. The Club has formally recognized Phelps as an alternative for Republican party voters, and encourages activities short of endorsement for him. Residents of the 8th District must give careful consideration to his candidacy.

Melissa Bean, the Democratic candidate from the 8th district, is a true environmentalist. She did well against Crane two years ago and will again run a strong campaign in November. The Sierra Club strongly endorses her candidacy.


With the retirement of Peter Fitzgerald the race for the Illinois Senate seat is wide open. The Sierra Club is endorsing Democrat Barack Obama a proven environmental leader. While Bush and the Republican Congress have been dismantling the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act and opening up our public lands to polluters, state legislators like Obama have taken action to protect Illinois’ environment. Obama will continue his strong environmental leadership in Washington. With a 100% environmental voting record in the Illinois Senate, Obama was one out of only six Senators in the 59 member Senate that voted overwhelmingly to keep Illinois’ environment clean and healthy.


Waukegan Moorlands Return to Top

by Melissa Baker
Restoration of the historic Waukegan Moorlands promises to restore beauty to the lakefront, and is a crucial component of the Waukegan Lakefront Development plan developed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM). The Moorlands’ ecological importance has been stressed by Henry Cowles, H.S. Pepoon, Frank Gates and other eminent botanists of the early 20th century.
 
11/5/1926 Chicago Aerial Survey Company
1926 Aerial Survey

 
A very rich biological area

Historically, this dune and swale type habitat extended from Kenosha to southern Waukegan, and was a very rich biological area. According to Pepoon in his Flora of the Chicago Region (1927), the Moorlands were comprised of eight distinct floral zones, which were different locations for various types of plants, such as permanent marshes, ridges which were both dry or low and moist, lake dunes, and the deep waters of the Dead River. Canada blue-joint, violet broomrape, cursed crowfoot, lilies and blazing stars once blanketed the area and are examples of some of the diverse and unique vegetation found in the Moorlands.

A fraction of its original size

The present day Waukegan Moorlands have shrunk dramatically in comparison to its original size.

Much of the southern portion (south of Greenwood Ave.) in the lakefront’s Area of Concern has been commercially developed. Because of contamination by a few of these industries, some of the land has been downgraded to brown fields.

Many treasures remain

In contrast, the northern two thirds of the Moorlands have been formally protected within the boundaries of IL Beach State Park, Spring Bluff Preserve and Chiwaukee Prairie. Several Waukegan areas not affected by industry have retained remarkable biological treasures, from blue spotted salamanders to the federally endangered piping plover.

Jay Womack of Conservation Design Forum described the importance —and the challenge—of restoring the historical hydrology to the southern portion of the Moorlands. Significant soil regrading would be needed in the most damaged areas to get closer to the water table and restore ground water mobility. In some cases a hard bottom would be needed to create open waters and prevent possible contamination. A focal point of the restoration would be near the Little Dead River, a branch of the Dead River which traverses the southern Moorlands and would link together the vital beach and dune areas with the wetland and bluff habitats.

This healing process will require much time and effort, but perhaps some of southern Waukegan Moorland’s former splendor will be regained.

 

Chair’s note:

We wish Melissa well as she moves to the North West Cook Group’s territory this month. She has been a consistent contributor to the Club, and served as our delegate to the Waukegan Citizen’s Advisory Group (CAG) for the Area of Concern.

This is an exciting time for the future of Waukegan’s environment as the city moves boldly to reclaim its environmental amenities. We invite members from the area to volunteer to take the baton from Melissa and continue our campaign to save the Waukegan Moorlands.


Join Our Free E-mail Lists! Return to Top

Members are invited to join the W&W group's e-mail lists. On the ALERTS list you will receive infrequent timely posts from the Group Chair (only), primarily on local issues. Some of these appear on this website, and if you subscribe you will learn about them in time to help. The ISSUES list allows you to share in a discussion with other W&Wers. To sign up, just visit each of these websites and click Join :

ALERTS

ISSUES

We do not share e-mail address lists, and you can remove yourself from either list at any time.

 


Hickory Creek & Sequoit Creek:
We're losing our best streams

by Jim Bland and John MassmanReturn to Top

Hickory Creek in northern Will County was, as recently as thirty years ago, the finest stream in the Chicagoland area. It is no longer!

Poster Child for failed water
quality management policy

Sewage treatment documents generated by Illinois EPA identify it as a “C” grade stream in need of pollutant loading studies. The Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) did not choose to include it in its most recent assessment of important regional waterways, although it has been identified in the Chicago Wilderness Biodiversity Plan. In August 2002 algal mats covered the entire stream for about a mile and a half. The story of how Hickory Creek has been systematically sold off is important because it contains lessons for conserving aquatic resources in Illinois. Hickory Creek is a poster child for failed water quality management policies.

What it Once Was

Hickory Creek is one of the most highly studied streams in the Chicago area. Over 100 years of fisheries and invertebrate records exist for this watershed. In addition to formal studies, Hickory Creek was used as the stream laboratory for local area universities including: the UIC, Loyola, St. Francis, and IIT. Victor Shelford of the University of Illinois at Champaign- Urbana put together a major theory of stream function based on collections done in the 1930s. Harry Nelson of the Field Museum has forty years of collections of riffles beetles from Hickory Creek. The stream has attracted attention because of its exceptional ecology, history and geology.

According to a 1971 publication by the INHS, “…Hickory Creek is the outstanding stream in the [Des Plaines] system. “ And Dr. David Bardack, formerly of the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, wrote: “Studies of the Hickory Creek ecosystem are widely recognized beyond the Chicago area. In fact, Hickory Creek has attained the status of a classic biological study area. It has shaped the understanding of ecologists of the basic principles of stream faunal succession. As a relatively unpolluted and unaltered stream with a diversified fauna it has attracted students and faculty seeking areas for teaching and testing new ideas of population stability, faunal turnover rates and faunal growth.”(1982 correspondence to Col. Christos Dovas, Army Corps of Engineers).

Fifty seven different species of fish have been collected historically from Hickory Creek—35 are on file in collections with the INHS. The stream still sustains an active population of smallmouth bass and includes by Konrad Schmidtseveral unique and fancifully named species such as the northern hogsucker, banded darter, least darter, rainbow darter  , mottled sculpin, orangespotted sunfish, mimic shiner, rosyface shiner by Konrad Schmidt , and slender madtom. Nine different species of darters have been collected historically.

Notably, recent collections are finding fewer of the unique and sensitive species and larger numbers of more pollution-tolerant fauna. Hickory Creek’s Mussel species that rely on “Mudpuppy” salamanders for their reproductive cycle have not been found in recent collections.

The systematic loss of aquatic fauna in urbanizing watersheds is a trend being repeated around the country. Historically, Northeastern Illinois has been a special aquatic community, important because it contained unique invertebrates, mussels and fish and represented an integrated ecosystem of great value.

Why Hickory Creek is Still Important

We need to realize how Hickory Creek got to this point so that we can prevent it in the future.

to top of next column

There are currently eight separate sewage treatment plants along its length. While small headwaters dilute the organic load released by each plant within a reach of the stream, the combined impact degrades the entire stream. A recent critique of State oversight of facilities planning (i.e., the process whereby sewage treatment plants are sized and sited) identified numerous planning shortfalls (Protecting the Illinois Environment through a Stronger Facility Planning Area Process; Open Lands, 2003). Municipalities too frequently extend their facility planning areas without regard for the quality of their streams. The recent request by IEPA to be released from its facilities planning responsibilities, rather than face off with municipalities, demonstrates the degree to which things have deteriorated.

One element which has historically been left out of facilities planning in Illinois is the assessment of secondary water quality impacts due to non-point source pollutants. Recent studies of the impact of impervious surface on streams (discussed in the last edition of W&W News) demonstrate that streams start to degrade as impervious surface starts to reach 10%, rapidly deteriorate above this, and are relatively irretrievable past 25%. Existing water planning policies have done nothing to contain or channel urban growth.

New IL Law Promising 

To address the threats to our streams from sewage treatment plants, House Bill 1250 was passed last spring (now Public Act 93-0313). It says that IEPA must propose new rules for the FPA process that “take into account… recommendations related to: non-point source pollution management, construction site runoff, urban runoff, consistency with antidegradation regulations, alternatives analysis, interagency coordination, alternative dispute resolution, and consistency with local, county, and regional land use plans and resource protection plans.” IEPA’s deadline for proposing these rules is July 23, 2004. So far, the advisory group has failed to agree on measures that would make those who control development in the watershed responsible for preserving the quality of the public waters. We are concerned that IEPA will flinch or delay, and our streams will continue to die.

Sequoit Creek at Risk

Sequoit Creek in northwestern Lake County faces threats similar to those of Hickory Creek. Lakes within the Sequoit Creek watershed represent some of the most important ecological sites in the County. The County Stormwater Management Commission has drafted a management plan for the watershed; however, we find that significant —and often inexpensive— elements are missing from this plan.

The Woods and Wetlands Group hired Integrated Lakes Management to provide written comments concerning the SMC plan. Our goal is for the Watershed Plan to make the information, and the tools to understand it, available to the public so that SMC’s interpretations can be verified. If SMC says the water quality is improving, we’d like to see proof.

Manmade drainage affects the health of the watershed and the impacts of pollution on aquatic habitats are even more important. Sequoit Creek is special, with five of the state’s endangered fish species. The draft plan lacks information crucial to protecting the watershed’s outstanding aquatic life.

Recent sprawl development in and around the watershed poses great threats. At Hwy 173 and Deep Lake in Antioch, Phase I of a large commercial development is in full swing. Are safeguards in place and is anyone monitoring site runoff? Even if the water quality is good now, as SMC asserts, how long will it remain a high quality watershed if no one’s watching? We need SMC to tell the whole story, and we need IEPA to protect our best streams.

 


Downwind Report - November 2003Return to Top

by Harold J. Rafson

The public hearing held by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency on January 13 concerning the NSSD’s proposal to build a sludge burner in Zion was a disappointment. The hearing was well attended, but IEPA’s attitude was that the proposed burner complied with all requirements and the IEPA would not deny an air pollution permit.

IEPA hearing a charade

Numerous attendees pointed out critical omissions and errors in the application to no avail. For example, when asked to include pollutants transferred to the Waukegan wastewater treatment plant, the IEPA refused, saying the treatment plant is a few miles away. And their response to concern that heavy metal emissions might exceed acceptable levels was to consider imposing operational limits. In no case was there a broader view of the overall environmental, economic and governance impacts of allowing the construction of this unproven sludge disposal facility.

One of the alarming impacts of the sludge burner is that the plant will withdraw 300,000 to 500,000 gallons per day from the aquifer. I questioned whether they needed any approvals to withdraw such large quantities, and what the impact would be on the aquifer and the users locally and downstream. Not being a water specialist, I would like to hear from any reader who can discuss these impacts. (Subscribe to the ISSUES list.) In essence, the withdrawal transfers this large amount of water from the aquifer in Zion to the Des Plaines River (with intermediate steps at the sludge plant and wastewater treatment plant). Is the level of the aquifer decreasing? Do downstream communities dependent on the aquifer have adequate supplies? The IEPA should not be allowed to ignore these questions.

Self-serving and misleading arguments

NSSD officials also attended, and at one point attempted to dismiss the VOCs in the proposed liquid effluent by making a misleading comparison with Lake Michigan drinking water. This is a self-serving argument, especially considering that VOCs in the effluent transferred to the water treatment plant will be released and find their way to condense into Lake Michigan.

NSSD should not be excused for VOC emissions by simply dividing the waste stream between the Des Plaines River, Lake Michigan and the air we breathe. Much of the VOCs already in the Lake come from vehicular and industrial air emissions, and those are responsible for unsafe ozone levels every summer.

Garrett releases Lake Michigan study

State Senator Susan Garrett has continued her studies of Lake Michigan water contamination that results in beach closings. On February 16 she released results of a further study she commissioned. It points to contamination from gulls and human wastes, and recommends improvements in beach operations, sanitary sewers and public education. Yet pinning blame on gulls may be a rush to judgment. According to the Lake County Health Department, the reason gull feces are considered a health threat to humans is the likely exposure of gulls to human pathogens in landfills.

Chemicals in our rivers

Hormones are among a long list of river pollutants nationwide according to a revealing report released last May by the US Geological Survey (USGS). The overall national outlook is grave with 97% of all rivers testing positive for many compounds. Among these pollutants are so-called “emerging” contaminants including hormone mimicking compounds which impact wildlife - and possibly much more. A hormone patch collection program run by volunteers in the Heart of Illinois Group demonstrated “source control,” preventing these pollutants from entering the waste stream. In Europe, Johnson & Johnson has been required to implement source control, and the HOI program helps expose lax US standards. Results obtained on rivers tested in Lake County are available.

Any member interested in becoming knowledgeable on this subject, and assisting the Conservation committee, is urged to contact me. A chemical, medical or pharmaceutical background will be helpful.

 


W&W Outings ProgramReturn to Top

by Evan Craig

I damaged cartilage in my knee in the end of December while skiing and climbing in Colorado and New Mexico.

We need more outings leaders!

Since I’m the only W&W Outings leader, our Outings Program is now on hold. The conclusion? We need more outing leaders! Click here for more details

The Club’s Outdoor Activities Training Program is bringing its highly successful Outings Leader Workshop to Elgin on May 14-16. I encourage any who would like to learn great outing leadership skills to take advantage of this. See the online brochure for a wealth of information about the Club’s training program, and to sign up. If there’s interest, I'll ask W&W to support this.

 


Sightings: Dealing with JunkReturn to Top

by Donald R. Dann

Junk comes in lots of forms and bedevils our lives in many ways. We are bombarded with an ever-increasing amount of junk mail and at times feel powerless to do anything about it. American manufacturers are ingenious in their ability to use packaging materials to help sell their products, but the wrappings increasingly comprise a higher portion of the cost, and it all ends up as more junk, which we recycle, burn, or pile up in even more landfills.

Here are actions all of us can take to stem this onslaught and ease the environmental burden as well as a prodigious waste of energy and resources, and simplify our lives in the process.

Junk Mail

  • First class mail: Cross out the address and bar code, circle the first class postage and write "refused: return to sender". Drop in any mailbox, it will be returned to the sender.
  • Bulk mail: The post office throws away bulk mail it can't deliver, so returning it does no good. Bulk mail is the hardest to deal with because the USPS actively provides addresses, support and encouragement to mailers. However, if "address correction requested" is written on the label: circle "address correction requested" and treat it like first class mail. (These suggestions are courtesy of Obvious Implementations Corporation).
Packaging materials

The University of California at Santa Cruz tells us that about 9 percent of the cost of a box of cereal is for the cereal — the other 91 percent of the cost is for the package and advertising. Packaging makes up one-third of New York City’s waste stream. The next time you go shopping, consider some of the following:

  • Buy items loose and avoid unnecessary packaging. Pay for the product, not the package!
  • Buy the largest possible size.
  • Avoid single-serve products like individually wrapped cereal boxes or fruit cups.
  • Choose reusable or recyclable packaging. Say “no bag, thanks,” if you’re buying only a few small items.
  • Buy the exact number of items you need from a hardware store bin.
  • Select fruit and vegetables that are not packaged in trays and plastic wrap.

A recent study for Stonyfield Farm shows that their 32-oz. yogurt containers consume 27 percent less energy and produce 29 percent less waste than four 8-oz. individual servings. Larger packaging is more efficient. Try buying concentrates for items like juice or laundry detergent and add your own water. Bring your own reusable bag for your groceries. (Some of these ideas are courtesy of NYC Waste Less)

Let’s overcome the junk all around us by avoiding it, reusing it, or recycling it, and help the environment by doing so.


Sightings: Playing in the Mud
Can Kids learn About Nature in the Malls Return to Top

by Donald R. Dann

The environment ranks 28th in importance to Americans among all non‑economic issues, based on a recent Gallup Poll. Yet the League of Conservation Voters reports that 81% of us are "pro‑environment", which leads us to ask why there is an absence of real conservation consciousness with so many Americans.

Could the root of the problem be how we are raising our children? For most people born before 1950, today's shopping mall was a rare part of growing up. We walked to school, to friend's houses, to shops and movies. The afternoons were spent with friends playing sports or in nearby "empty lots", using our imaginations endlessly. We would look for insects or snakes or turtles or just explore nature. The 'outside' was a neat place to be and to learn about all sorts of critters, breathe fresh air, pick pretty wildflowers (before learning that was not good to do), and more. In short, many of us developed a bond with the natural world and a commitment to conservation that stems from that period.

In today's world kids grow up in a totally different and regrettably 'antiseptic' atmosphere. Children are driven just about everywhere. After school, they're at home with friends on "play dates". They play board games, use electronic toys (including computers) or are riveted to TV comedy, cartoons, video games or the like. The sense of 'danger out there' that most parents feel precludes their kids' environmental explorations.

Will Nixon put it well in describing what children "miss out on in their bug period – the years of middle childhood, in which children traditionally roamed their local swamps, woods, creeks, and other natural places in search of whatever fascinates them ... the freedom and rich trove of discoveries afforded by natural places.”

How can we give these experiences back to our children so they grow with a sense of the awesomeness of nature and its critical place in our lives, and yet provide for their safety? Here are some possibilities:

  • Take a child for a wildlife-watching day, bringing binoculars. With patience you can see small mammals and birds, turn over a log and look for insects, or sweep prairie grasses with a butterfly net to examine the critters there.
  • Nature centers in nearby parks, botanic gardens, natural history museums, forest preserves, etc., frequently run educational programs and field trips in which your family can participate. Volunteers are needed for a variety of work, including ‘workdays’ for restoration, e.g. eliminating invasive plants. It’s best is to participate in these activities as a family and encourage your children and grandchildren to learn about our native plants and animals.
  • Plan a nature vacation with children/grandchildren. The National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, and Monuments of America are among the world’s greatest natural treasures. In many, rangers provide interpretive walks and lectures, which can be not only educational but also inspiring, especially to the youngsters, so they can grow with a sense of the awe and wonder of the natural world.

The environment will never matter to us as a society unless we learn about it and live it as part of our daily lives. Then we will come to love it and take care of it.

 


Sightings: Good Environmental CitizenshipReturn to Top

by Donald R. Dann

Most of us want to do what we can to take care of our environment and leave our world to future generations without yet further despoliation, but are frequently simply unaware of many of the possibilities. Here are a few more ideas to help us all become more knowledgeable and better environmental citizens.

  • Do you like chocolate (yes!)? When buying it, look for a brand with high cocoa content (more cocoa means higher quality and—at least potentially—more income to poor farmers in third world countries). Buy chocolate that is from a socially responsible producer, organic, or carries a ‘fair trade’ label. Encourage your favorite stores or supermarkets to carry chocolate brands that are certified as fair trade/organic. One good source can be found at equalexchange.org 
  • Most gold produced today is extracted from huge open-pit mines where the ore is crushed, piled into heaps, and sprayed with cyanide to separate out the gold. Years later, the abandoned waste piles can still release acid and toxic heavy metals into streams, rivers, and groundwater. The gold produced for a single .33 ounce, 18 karat gold ring leaves at least 18 tons of mine waste. To avoid contributing to this environmental mess, you can buy recycled or vintage gold. (About one third of the gold in use or storage today comes from scrap or recycled sources.) When you’re in the market for gold, ask your jeweler to tell you the source of the gold they sell, and encourage them to offer more environmentally sound alternatives.
  • On average, babies go through 5000 diapers before being toilet trained, and Americans throw away 18 billion diapers each year, making them the third largest source of solid waste in the nation's landfills. Using biodegradable diapers or reusable cloth diapers can reduce this enormous environmental burden.
  • While computers enable us to access and retain more information than ever before, each of these machines is loaded with toxics. Don't just throw your old electronics in the trash! Several manufacturers now take back old electronics for a small fee. Urge them to dispose of these products responsibly and not ship them to countries where they harm workers and the environment. For those living in the northern Chicago suburbs, bring your old equipment to the College of Lake County in Grayslake on May 22, 2004, which is a one-time collection day. In other areas, check with local waste disposal officials.
  • A leading contributor to flooding and water pollution is storm runoff from impermeable surfaces, like paved driveways. The following link on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website gives a wide range of options for choosing a permeable pavement for when you repave your driveway. epa.gov

These are just a few brief examples of the wide variety of good environmental choices all of us can make in our daily lives. Adapting these practices will help our children and our children’s children have a livable world. (Thanks to Worldwatch Institute for many of these ideas).

 
 

Printable pdf W&W News Return to Top

Here's the printed version of this issue of the W&W News in pdf. It's 913 kB, you'll need Adobe Acrobat to view it, and it should look like the copy members get in the mail. If you want to give a copy to a friend who doesn't have internet access, we suggest printing this pdf rather than this web page.

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