Businesses in Central Illinois Taking Up Green Challenge

GOCbuildingThe Illinois Green Office Challenge is picking up steam in it’s goal to green-up Central Illinois businesses.

 

CBS affiliate WYZZ Channel 31 last night reported on The Ecology Action Center’s partnership with the U of I’s Illinois Sustainable Technology Center to help Illinois businesses and organizations save money buy cutting utility bills and waste.

 

The Challenge provides ideas to help businesses compete to get recognition for their successes in sustainable business. This year the competition is focusing on organizations in and around Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, and Champaign-Urbana.

 

Other partners in the Challenge include the University of Illinois Extension, Economic Development Council for Central Illinois and the City of Urbana.

 

9 Ways to have a Waste Free Holiday

  1. Reduce the quantity of food served. Holiday season means fun andfood with friends and family.  We all want to impress our guest with a lavish display of food but then we are left with the dreaded left overs. Don’t get me wrong…I love the cold turkey sandwich with the cranberry sauce the next day but after a week of left overs, I think, “Why did I make it all?”  So I challenge everyone to make less this holiday.  If you just can’t resist making all that food, consider finding a soup kitchen to donate all the left overs. (For more reading see this article: Reducing Food Waste During the Holiday Season)

    using old news papers, comics, and maps as wrapping paper instead of traditional wrapping paper

    News paper and map wrapped presents

  2. Consider locally sourced food. Plants are CO2 negative but you might be surprised just how much CO2 was emitted to get the holiday mashed potatoes on the table (For more information see True Cost of a Holiday Dinner).
  3. Give the gift that keeps on giving: Alternative gifts such as planting a tree in someone’s name (American Forests or Arbor Day Foundation) can be a lovely way to say you care about the special someone without bogging them down with more stuff. Or consider making a donation in their name to a charity that does work they value.
  4. If you still want to give a gift, consider giving the gift of curiosity and creativity. Think about what inspires your kids, your loved ones or your loved one’s kids to indulge their curiosity about art, the natural world, or how to create something innovative. Or give the gift of an experience, like a trip to a nearby city or a gift certificate for a new activity.
  5. Use greener alternatives to traditional wrapping paper
  6. Make eco-friendly decorations from used shipping boxes or consider getting a potted tree to plant after the holidays

    cell phone lights LEDs instead of a candle lit menorah

    Cell phone menorah for Hanukkak

  7. Consider Eco-Smart Holiday Greeting Choices – this article says it all!
  8. Traveling? Consider off setting your carbon emissions and remember to lower the thermostat at home or in the office.
  9. Spring isn’t the only season for cleaning. Because most of us feel “stuck inside” during the cold months, winter can be the perfect time to purge the house of unneeded or unwanted items. Don’t just throw them out.  Think of ways to donate, reuse, or recycle those items.

 

Additional Resources

University of Washington Offers Online Green Chemistry Certificate Program

A new certificate program from the University of Washington will help chemists, environmental and sustainability professionals, health and safety professionals and product managers make informed product decisions that take into account sustainability, toxicity and human health concerns. The certificate in Green Chemistry & Chemical Stewardship will be offered through the Professional and Continuing Education program at the University of Washington.

 

There will be three online courses in the certificate, and individuals can sign up for a single course on a space available basis:

 

The online certificate program is intended to give professionals working in chemicals management experience using comparative chemical hazard assessment tools for product selection. The classes will be offered sequentially, beginning in January, 2015, and concluding in August, 2015. Students will complete a capstone project requiring them to evaluate a chemical or product within a sustainability framework.

 

To learn more about the certificate program, see http://www.pce.uw.edu/certificates/green-chemistry-chemical-stewardship.html.

 

To learn more about green chemistry, see the Green Chemistry Sector Resource on the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) web site.

 

For more sustainability and pollution prevention training opportunities, be sure to check the GLRPPR calendar.

 

Thanks to our colleague, Donna Walden, of the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) for sharing information about this training opportunity.

Add Sustainability to your Spring 2015 Class Schedule

As you’re thinking about classes for Spring 2015, consider adding sustainability to your schedule. Use our August post, “Tips for Greening Your Major,” as a starting point.

Sustainable_development

Sustainability diagram designed by Johann Dréo in 2006

Events Promote Sustainability Awareness at Home and Far-Far Away

PlasticParadiseDirector, writer and actress Angela Sun will visit the Urbana-Champaign campus at 6 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 21 for a screening of her film “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

The documentary records the plight of the natural ecosystem of Midway Atoll as it encounters the Great Pacific Gyre, a swirling garbage patch of plastic washed off of surrounding continents.

Named a National Wildlife Refuge in 1988, Midway’s reefs and sand islands form a habitat for millions of seabirds. The film traces Sun’s investigation of the damage produced by humans’ demand for plastic.

The event will be held in Room 149, National Soybean Research Center.

Co-sponsors for this free community/campus event are the Institute for Sustainablity, Energy, and the Environment (iSEE), and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.

Plastics in the environment have increasingly raised concerns from researchers, activists and policy makers. California-based Surfrider Foundation has named October “Rise Above Plastics” month, during which they promote consumer awareness against the tsunami of plastic in the human economy. A phenomenon of the second half of the 20th century, plastic production has supplanted the use of natural materials with the benefits of being light and strong. But those very properties mean they degrade very slowly and have alarmed many scientists for their increasing presence in the marine food chain. ISTC has several projects looking at the reuse and recycling of plastics to keep more of them out of landfills or the environment. Click here for a recent report on plastic to oil research at ISTC.

Sun’s visit is also an appropriate warm-up to “Campus Sustainability Day” recognized on the U of I campus and nationally the next day, Oct. 22. Between 1-4 p.m. in Illini Union Room 314B on Oct. 22, iSEE will sponsor a progress report of the university’s Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP). In 2010, U of I became a leader among U.S. universities by announcing ambitious climate goals, including carbon neutrality by 2050. Register here for the iCAP update.

Working teams developing revisions to the 2010 iCAP will review the campus’ progress on the plan and accept public comment on a proposed 2015 iCAP update.

Pollution Prevention Week – Sept. 15-21

EPA logo with

This year marks the 24th anniversary of the federal Pollution Prevention Act, which declares: “pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible.” This week is Pollution Prevention (P2) Week where the EPA features achievements in making pollution prevention a cornerstone of sustainability. Find out more information and how you can participate by visiting the EPA’s P2 Week website.

PCBs: Public Workshop Takes Fresh Look at Familiar Menace

PCBflag700

The University of Illinois will present a free public workshop on PCBs, the synthetic molecule that is a poster child for a wonderful technical innovation that ends up being an environmental scourge (remember ice-nine?).

PCBs are still around and still must be destroyed or securely stored. Register for the 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17 workshop “PCBs and Their Impact on Illinois” here. You can choose to attend the live event at University of Illinois at Chicago, via live feed at ISTC’s conference room in Champaign, or on your own desktop.

U of I Library has come up with a brand new lib guide in time for this event. This executive summary of all things PCB is available on the library’s website.

 

 

 

Tips for Greening Your Major

This post was co-authored by Laura Barnes, Elizabeth Luber, and Lauren Murphy.

 

These days we hear a lot about “Green” energy or “Sustainable” products, but what do “Green” and “Sustainable” really mean?  How do these words affect your life and your major?

 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency,

“Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”

 

This diagram about sustainable development, designed by Johann Dréo in 2006, might clear things up.  The three pillars of sustainability – social, environment, and economic, sometimes called people, planet, profit – must be balanced in order for something to be entirely sustainable.

Sustainable_development

 

 

What Does This Have To Do With Your Major? Continue reading

PCBs Not Going to Clinton, But A Solution Still Needed

Village of Summit, a Chicago suburb

The Village of Summit, a Chicago suburb, is one of the Illinois communities in need of a permanent solution to PCB storage.

Now that the U.S. and Illinois Environmental Protection Agencies have rejected proposals for permanent PCB storage at the Clinton Landfill, the problem has not gone away.

 

Just what is to be done with the once common industrial chemical turned persistent hazard?

 

On Sept. 17, the University of Illinois is holding a day-long workshop to hear from academic and industry experts to bring the latest science to the policy table.

 

Register for the workshop being held at the U of I at Chicago campus by visiting: http://www.istc.illinois.edu/info/pcbworkshop.cfm. There are also plans to offer a live feed over the Internet.

New ‘Lessons Learned’ Offered on Sustainability Successes

casestudyboxISTC has posted recent case studies or fact sheets on its website developed by its Technical Assistance Group. They are also available on IDEALS, the University of Illinois’ Institutional repository. They illustrate victories by leading companies and organizations in E3 (Economy, Energy, and Environment), Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award Winners, and zero waste. The organizations featured are: American Standard Circuits, Inc.; Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District; J.L. Clark; The Label Printers Lewis & Clark Community College; The City of Urbana; and ISTC’s Champaign headquarters.