The Stream
Events, Alerts and News in the W&W Territory

Trash Tips    It's amazing how much waste households in the United States produce each month.. Read more ...
Join the W&W LobbyCom    Our local representatives can't read our minds. Talk green to your elected officials.    Read more ...
Impending EPA Hearing    Countryside Landfill in Grayslake seeks a permit to flare more Hydrogen Sulfide. Read more ...
Rt. 53 Threat Looms    Now at the top of the funding priority list - urgent action needed.      Read more ...
Join the Discussion    Read more ...
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This newsletter is being brought to you through the W&W ALERTS list, and was presented previously as a link from the IL Chapter Prairie State Protector newsletter.

Trash Tips

It's amazing how much waste households in the United States produce each month. Every day, families throw away a trash can full of trash and sometimes much more than that. From product packaging to spoiled foods to things that are broken, or even things such as aluminum cans and glass bottles that can be recycled and reused. In the U.S., 4.39 pounds of trash per day and up to 56 tons of trash per year are created by the average person.

Here are some tips on how to both save money and help protect the environment by reducing or even eliminating household waste.

When shopping, be sure not to buy more perishable items than what can be consumed in a week's time. Typically, most items that are perishable will ruin after about a week. When coming home after grocery shopping, be sure to put the things that will last the longest toward the back of the fridge and the fruits and vegetables that will perish more quickly closer to the front.

When cooking only make enough for the needs of that meal and perhaps one more as a leftover. If you make more than that, you're likely to have leftovers spoil in the refrigerator and that's household waste and money going down the drain. For every portion you throw away, you're losing $1-3 dollars worth of food that could have been used to feed your family.

Always store your non-perishable foods in cool or room temperature dry cabinets and/or tightly sealed in plastic-ware or baggies to keep it from ruining prematurely. You can eliminate or reduce a lot of household wastes from tossing out perishable foods.

Whenever possible, to reduce or eliminate household waste from product packaging, consider buying products in bulk. Not only do you usually save money for bulk purchases, but when purchasing in bulk, serving per serving, the packaging will have less material than buying in smaller quantities.

You can also eliminate or reduce household waste by purchasing products that don't use unnecessary packaging. Often, these products will be less expensive too, because the manufacturer is not wasting money and resources on special packaging.

One area most people probably don't think about with household waste are utilities, but using too much water, running electricity when it's not necessary, and even flushing the toilet when it's not needed can all waste money and have a toll on the environment as well as your pocketbook.

Eliminating wasted utilities like turning lights off when not in use, turning off televisions when not watching them, and unplugging appliances that aren't in use will mean cheaper utility bills and less expendable resources wasted.

There are so many reasons why eliminating or reducing household waste is good for your wallet and good for our environment. Whenever possible, eliminate household waste by purchasing recyclable products, and then actually take the time to recycle them. Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Most communities have pick up for recyclables, and you will be doing your part to make our world a better place. Throwing away one aluminum can wastes as much energy as if that can were 1/2 full of gasoline.

If the item can't be recycled, then see if there is some other use for the item. Plastic containers labeled “7” make great storage containers, planters, water carriers, or water feeder bowls for pets.

Being creative and taking a few extra seconds to recycle or reuse items that have already fulfilled their original purpose can really help eliminate household waste and keep our world cleaner and better for everyone, now and in the future..

Join the W&W Lobby Committee

Lobbying gets a bad rap because most of us think of lobbyists as paid hacks for big money interests - which many are. But lobbyists are also individuals like you, constituents who support the causes of advocacy groups like Sierra Club. In 2010, members of Woods and Wetlands successfully lobbied in Springfield and here in the district to create incentives for solar power, to reduce the use of water polluting fertilizers, and to keep wetlands wet. We also successfully lobbied the Lake County Board to keep incinerators off of the county's waste disposal 5 year plan. But there is much more to be done and we need YOU to help!

If you've ever e-mailed or phoned a legislator, if you've ever visited a legislator in district, or if you've ever even thought about doing these things (and even if you haven't) please join us on Wednesday January 26 to find out how easy (and how much fun) it is to have an impact on environmental legislation.

We'll discuss issues, how to lobby, and even practice lobbying! Time and place to be announced but if you're interested please contact Chris Pado at 847-445-6642 or Bring your enthusiasm and I'll bring the cookies!

Impending EPA Hearing

It should come as no surprise to anyone living near a landfill that trash dumped in a landfill doesn't necessarily stay in the landfill, even when the landfill is properly designed. With a little water, bacteria break down the organic materials, producing gases that tend to leak out. For instance, the solid cellulose in paper products becomes methane gas, the primary component of natural gas. If you look carefully at modern landfills, you'll see pipes sticking out of them, and their purpose is to collect the Land Fill Gas (LFG) containing methane so it can be burned, preferably to generate heat or electricity.

When the trash contains sulfur, the result can be hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a colorless, very poisonous, flammable gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs. Drywall, the common material used to build indoor walls, is made from calcium sulfate, also known as gypsum, and contains sulfur. Several years ago, Countryside Landfill accepted gypsum (drywall) fines, and county officials now believe it to be creating excess amounts of H2S. When burned or released into the atmosphere, H2S combines with oxygen to form SO2, sulfur dioxide, which causes respiratory disease, and which combines with water to form H2SO4, sulfuric acid, which causes acid rain.

In February of 2010, the US EPA gave Countryside a Notice of Violation for SO2 emissions in excess of their permit allowances. Rather than clean up the excess emissions, they are seeking to raise the level of their emissions allowed by their air permit.

We are opposed to this permit amendment and are requesting that Countryside Landfill install a scrubber to remove the H2S rather than increase their permit levels to allow additional pollutants into the atmosphere. This will be more costly to the landfill, but we believe that the maximum achievable pollution control technology should be used to protect our health. Given their poor track record over the past several years, it is not an unreasonable request.

The IL EPA will hold a hearing in the Grayslake area, likely in February, regarding Waste Management's Countryside Landfill permit amendment request to flare more Hydrogen sulfide gas. We will send out a member alert as soon as the date becomes available. If you live in the Village of Grayslake, Mundelein or Libertyville, please contact your county board member and/or local officials (mayor, village trustees etc) to let them know that you are opposed to this permit amendment and prefer that Countryside Landfill be required to install a scrubber instead.

Rt. 53 Threat Looms

Construction of the Rt. 53 extension through Lake County’s wetlands is now at the top of the funding priority list set by CMAP, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. As we alerted you last August, it sticks out like a sore thumb in CMAP’s GOTO 2040 plan for more efficient transportation. That plan speaks of a kinder, gentler “modern boulevard,” Rt. 53 extension. That cloak will do little to reduce the damage if the proposed “FAP 342” alignment through that wetland-rich area remains essentially the same. The construction and use of a new road there will sacrifice the quality of those wetlands and deal a death blow to many of Lake County’s wildlife species. As I explain below, proponents are using every trick in the book to try to get Rt. 53 built. On February 1, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and CMAP will hold the first of four Roundtables to explain their progress. This is another opportunity for us to ask them to re-think the Rt. 53 extension. Please CLICK HERE to tell CMAP and the Tollway that you oppose it, and that they shouldn’t commit extreme amounts of money to controversial and damaging projects.

We have vigorously opposed Rt. 53 for over a decade, and it remains controversial. We objected when the Tollway maneuvered around its grave environmental consequences, violating federal requirements for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). We called out the severe flaws of the so-called Lake County Transportation Improvement Project (LCTIP), designed to endorse a Rt. 53 outcome without doing an EIS. Even so, some on the Lake County Board have presented LCTIP as unvarnished truth while posing a ridiculous referendum question to off-year voters. Now they are quick to quote the 75% vote for the referendum question that offered it as a free lunch. Examination of the voter records reveals that only 16% of registered voters bothered to vote for it, and that even the 75% is an exaggeration. That county board recently elected David Stolman as its new chair, whose greatest distinction beyond having the worst attendance record of anyone on the board has been his passion to extend Rt. 53 traffic congestion beyond his district. Apparently other members were afraid to oppose his record on either account. Rt. 53 has been sold as a solution to the E-W congestion caused by poorly planned sprawl development in western Lake County, but studies have shown it will make congestion on local roads worse there. The myth was enough to help Suzi Schmidt win an IL senate seat by flip-flopping her opposition to it. The disingenuous promotional campaign included misleading malapropisms: the word “expansion” was substituted for “extension,” and “right-of-way” became “right-away.” Eventually a new EIS will still be required, and it should now also include the fact that major highways contribute to climate change. But CMAP seems under pressure to push it through regardless, and their approval now makes our federal dollars available for it. We must meet the political pressure with renewed local opposition to its real consequences.

So far the extreme cost of building a massive new road through wetlands has been the Rt. 53 extension’s biggest hurdle. Documents released by CMAP reveal that half-truths are being deployed to maneuver around that too. The document explains that new road lanes (expansions) often are accompanied by improvement to existing lanes, so only half of the cost should be attributed to new construction. It fails to explain why that applies to the Rt. 53 extension, which would be a totally new road, but only half of its proposed cost is included in the proposal. Meanwhile, with usage dipping in the weak economy and spiking gas prices pushing it down ever farther, the Tollway will likely have to raise tolls to pay for the previous 355 extension and its massive recent tollway repairs. Rt. 53 was never expected to pay for itself, so it comes as no surprise that CMAP recommends new taxes and pricing to pay for this expensive expressway proposal. There is a clear pattern visible here: slip in a costly new highway with an otherwise popular transportation proposal. It worked when they got 355 with “open road tolling.” Why not bundle 53 with the GOTO 2040 livable communities?

The GOTO 2040 plan supposedly reflects the consensus of dozens of public input meetings held across the region. I was thrilled when I attended those meetings to hear universal support for more walkable and livable communities, with more mass transit, and unsolicited opposition to the Rt. 53 extension. The summaries from many other meetings around the region reflected similar views. It fit with our Let’s Get Moving campaign that focused on mass transit (trains, busses, vanpools) and improving our strategic regional arterials – all context sensitive transportation solutions. Now Rt. 53 is being dressed up to look like it fits, but making it a boulevard rather than a superhighway, or adding a bike path or even transit in the same right-of-way won’t change the environmental damage it will inflict.

Apparently, CMAP and the Tollway think that we’ve lost hope in retaining our wildlife and the rural character of Lake County, and after holding back the Rt. 53 extension for over 40 years, we’ve changed our minds. Please tell them that clean air, clean water, and climate change - all factors not considered when the FAP 342 alignment was determined, make it unacceptable in the 21st century.

Join the Discussion

The Activist Network

Every Sierra Club member is invited to find local friends in the Club's on-line network. Then use it to find out about conservation teams and projects already in swing, and to collaborate with other members to address local environmental issues with the Club. Get started by finding or creating your profile at .

The W&W ISSUES Discussion List

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