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Public Green Blog

Do-It-Yourself Energy Audit

Now that the weather is starting to change, it’s the perfect time to do your own energy audit and get your home ready for winter.  As much as one-third of the energy you use to heat your home may be slipping through windows, doors, electrical outlets, and other cracks.  Check out one of the Minitemp Noncontact Thermometers that use infrared technology to measure the surface temperature in areas of your home.  Just “point and shoot” at the exterior of your home and you can literally see where the heat is leaking out of your home! The Minitemp Noncontact Thermometers are kept at the Reference Desk and can be checked out for one week.

By mreynolds on October 24, 2012 Categories: Energy, Home Improvement, Weatherization

Last Call for Electronic Recycling in Mount Prospect

You know you’ve been meaning to do it but time is running out. The Village of Mount Prospect provides a weekly drop-off location for electronics recycling at the Public Works facility every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to Noon. However, the program ends on Wednesday, October 31 so now’s the time! Gather up those old computers, monitors, TV sets, printers, and video game components that are just gathering dust in the basement or garage and get them over to the Public Works facility (1700 W. Central Rd.). Items not accepted include cameras, microwaves, shredders, household appliances, power tools or air conditioners. For a complete list (and for alternate locations after Oct. 31) visit the SWANCC Electronics Recycling page.

By mreynolds on October 22, 2012 Categories: Recycling

SWANCC’s Trashy Fashion Show

The Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) will hold it’s sixth Trashy Fashion Show on Thursday, November 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore (5300 W. Touhy Avenue in Skokie). Over 30 designers created a movie themed outfit from items destined for the trash or recycling bin. Reservations are not needed for this event. Doors are scheduled to open at 6:30 p.m. For more information about the show call 847-724-9205 or email info@swancc.org.

By mreynolds on Categories: Community, Recycling

Fun Fall Activities

Fall has arrived and it is time to think about some eco-friendly decorating ideas.
Check out marthastewart.com for some fun and very doable things you can try and still be kind to the environment.  Here are just a couple of Martha’s ideas:
+Take a look at this gourd garland  Try hanging it from a fence outdoors or  from a mantle. 
+Fill a planter with gourds, squash, corn, or pumpkins, use your imagination! 
+Free pumpkin carving templates, take a look and you will make you’re your friends and family “green” with envy at your pumpkin art!  

After you have taken the seeds out of your pumpkins, don’t throw them away!  Once you read about the health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds,  you will want to eat them for breakfast lunch, lunch and dinner! Pumpkin seeds have attributed to helping the health of the prostrate, bones, and even lowering cholesterol.  

To help make those healthy pumpkin seeds even more appetizing, check out these links from the Food Network.  They have some wonderful recipe ideas to prepare those seeds in new and different ways:
+Try these Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds from Sandra Lee.
+Or a Spicy Pumpkin Seeds recipe from Bobby Flay.
+Maybe some Pumpkin Seed Salsa from Emeril Lagasse?

Here’s a few ideas from PBS KIDS for young fans of “Arthur”:
+Try sending some Halloween e-cards  to cut down on paper waste.
+And, if the fall weather proves to be a bit too chilly try taking the Go Green Challenge with Arthur and his friends.

By julie collins on October 18, 2012 Categories: Holidays, Home Decorating

E-Cycle at Friendship Park Conservatory

On Friday,  November 2 and Saturday November 3, Friendship Park Conservatory (395 Algonquin Road, Des Plaines) will be hosting an electronic recycling event from 9a.m. to noon both days. Cell phones, digital cameras, fax machines, tv’s, video game units etc. will be accepted at no charge. For a complete list of acceptable items, please visit the Mount Prospect Park District website. For more info call 847-298-3500.

By julie collins on October 15, 2012 Categories: Electronics, Recycling

Proper Smoke Detector and Fire Extinguisher Disposal

Smoke detectors at the end of their lifespan, which is about eight to 10 years according to Earth911, cannot be recycled; many of them are ionization smoke detectors, which have small amounts of radioactive material, Americium 241. The Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) states on its Smoke Detectors page that “all smoke detectors contain the mail-back address to send used units with radioactive chips,” but now recommends that residents dispose of smoke detectors in their regular trash.

A list of manufacturers that may accept old and used smoke detectors for disposal can be found here: Smoke Detector Disposal Info. However, according to SWANCC, the manufacturers that they contacted simply throw them away and advise residents to just throw them away themselves. Since the amount of radioactive material in ionization smoke detectors is so limited, the EPA does not require special disposal methods for them.

While both Earth 911’s No Smoking and disposal tips page mention Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection events as acceptable options for smoke detector disposal, both SWANCC and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency state that smoke detectors will not be accepted at such events.

Fire extinguishers also are ineligible for disposal at HHW events, but there are numerous disposal, recycling, and reuse options available to residents. SWANCC states on its Fire Extinguishers page that “[t]hey cannot be discarded curbside,” but they can be recharged, recycled at various locations, possibly through the fire-extinguisher manufacturers and local fire departments, and even in regular residential recycling as long as all contents are discharged and the head is removed—the steel body can then be recycled. However, the Mt. Prospect Fire Department does not recharge, recycle, or otherwise dispose of fire extinguishers and refers people to SWANCC for more information.

By julie collins on October 12, 2012 Categories: Household Products

Arsenic in Rice

Results from recent studies measuring the level of arsenic in rice have  been reported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Consumer Reports. Fairly high amounts were discovered: Consumer Reports declared the results “worrisome” and has recommended that consumer’s limit the amount of rice they eat. The FDA has not made any similiar recommendations, but they are continuing the study to get a larger sample size. Concerned consumers may wish to limit the amount of rice they eat as well as take measures to eliminate some of the arsenic in the cooking process. Two easy methods for reducing arsenic levels are rinsing the rice several times before cooking and cooking the rice in several cups of water and draining off the excess when the rice is finished cooking.

For more info:
Rice Arsenic Cooking Tips-Chicago Tribune
Arsenic in Rice-FDA
Arsenic in Your Food: Consumer Reports

By julie collins on October 3, 2012 Categories: Consumer Choices

Healthy Green Recipes

Looking for some new recipe ideas now that summer is waning and cooking season is almost upon us? For healthy and green ideas, try these websites:

The Daily Green-New Green Cuisine   A consumer’s guide to green from GoodHousekeeping.com.

Whole Living-Eat Well  Healthy recipes from MarthStewart.com

Eating Well  “Where good taste meets good health.”

By julie collins on September 7, 2012 Categories: Recipes

ECOtality offers Free Electric Vehicle Residential Wall Mount Chargers

Earlier this month, ECOtality, a clean electric transportation and storage technology company, announced that it was partnering with ComEd to give a free residential Blink wall mount charger as well as an installation credit up to $400 to qualified Chicago-area residents who have taken ownership of a Nissan LEAF or Chevy Volt.  In exchange for receiving the charger and installation credit, residents are expected to participate in the EV Project, which shares data about both the vehicle and charging units (energy used, time, and duration of charger use).  No personal information is shared or included in the data.  To learn more about the EV Project program and see if you qualify go to www.theevproject.com.

By julie collins on Categories: Energy, Transportation

Energy Impact Illinois Program

The Energy Impact Illinois Program, in conjunction with your local utility, offers energy efficiency rebates to residents and businesses to help lower their energy bills.  In fact, if you are a residential customer, you may qualify for rebates up to $1,750 for air sealing and building insulation installation. Commercial, industrial, and multifamily complexes can receive incentives based on performance and energy efficiency savings.  Go to www.energyimpactillinois.org and use the “Find Energy Savings Actions” tool to see all the programs you qualify for based on your location and home or business type.  You can also call 1-855-9-IMPACT (toll-free) to learn more about the program OR set up an appointment to schedule an energy assessment (cost $99).  They are open weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm.

By julie collins on Categories: Energy, Weatherization