Skokie's Going 'Green'

Over the past few years the Village of Skokie has worked hard to become a more eco-friendly municipality.  Part of the Village's going 'green' efforts include providing information to Skokie residents and business owners on how they also can become more eco-friendly.


Alternative Methods to Lawn CareEco-Landscaping Guide

Over the years, lawns and gardens have been managed in a reactive or conventional way of applying fertilizer and weed killer. Decision makers now have choices for cultivating and maintaining their property with organic or natural methods - a proactive approach to managing lawns and gardens.
 
The benefits of a natural lawn care system include:
  • Reduce exposure to chemicals for people, pets and plants
  • Improved ecosystems for birds insects and bugs
  • Improved water quality and reduced storm water runoff
  • Long-term savings compared to conventional methods
SWANCC's Eco-Landscaping Guide is free and available by clicking here.

Clean Air Counts
In 2007 the Village of Skokie's Environmental Practices Committee joined Clean Air Counts (CAC), a northern Illinois regional initiative to reduce ozone-causing emissions, thereby improving air quality and enabling economic development. It is a collaborative effort between the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, City of Chicago, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. This multi-year initiative seeks to achieve specific and significant reductions in targeted smog-forming pollutants and major reductions in energy consumption.

Municipal leaders across the Chicago area can play an important role in preserving the environment and contributing to the health of their constituents. Communities have an opportunity to take part in a new initiative to voluntarily improve air  quality in neighborhoods and towns.

The key is to adopt emission-reducing strategies—many of them surprisingly simple— and report the efforts so that they can be quantified in the State Implementation Plan. Strategies include programs to encourage employee car pooling and mass transit to take cars off the road, use of air-friendly cleaning supplies, and paints and building materials that lessen pollution and reduce the urban "heat island" effect that causes temperatures in cities to be higher than in rural areas.

Other strategies encourage the use of native plant landscaping to reduce lawnmower and lawn chemical usage, more trees to shade and cool parking lots, and energy efficient lighting and office equipment.

The Village of Skokie has committed to implement CAC strategies in several areas of municipal operations, including cleaning products, energy consumption, fleet management etc. The Village's commitment was formalized in early September when the Village Board approved a resolution to join CAC and the Committee submitted an application to the CAC program.

If you would like more information on the Clean Air Counts initiative, please visit www.cleanaircounts.org.


Harvest Water With Rain Barrels
Besides helping the environment, an obvious reason for harvesting rainwater is to save money. A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from your rooftop which you later can use in many ways. For example, rainwater is naturally soft and devoid of minerals, chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals. It is the perfect source for watering your garden or maintaining your landscaping. Additionally, rain barrels help slow down rain runoff so it can drain naturally into the ground. That helps keep excess water out of the sewer systems and keeps rain runoff from collecting pollutants on its trip to nearby waterways. Rain barrels also provide water during dry weather when you can set them to slowly release water over a period of time after rains have subsided. The slow release of water will allow it to seep into the soil and be used by plants. Be sure to check your barrel at least once a week to be sure that all openings are screened to prevent mosquito breeding.

Rain barrel programs are being implemented in communities across the country, including here in Cook County. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is selling rain barrels for Cook County residents. Rain barrels are $50 each and can be ordered and paid for on the MWRD website. There are three pickup locations, one of which is in Skokie. MWRD also offers gift certificates for the purchase of rain barrels.

To learn more about the program visit the MWRD website or call 312/751-5600.


Have an Energy Efficient Home
Because houses run 24 hours a day they consume a lot of energy and have a big impact on the environment. Here are some easy ways to make your home more energy efficient, which will reduce your carbon footprint and your energy bill.

  • Make your home airtight and well insulated- Air leaks and poor insulation allows heat to escape during the winter and lets it enter during the summer, increasing the energy that is required to heat or cool your home. Check to see if your home's attic and interior walls are well insulated, if they are not it would be cost-effective for you to make this update. The best way to prevent air leaks is by purchasing energy-efficient windows. The price difference between regular windows and energy-efficient windows is usually very small. If you are not ready to make an investment in new windows, you may reduce air leaks by simply weather-stripping windows and doors.
  • Use Compact Fluorescent Lamps- Even though fluorescent bulbs have more of an upfront cost, they will save you money in the long run because they last longer and use less energy than an incandescent bulb. When replacement and energy cost is calculated, buying fluorescent is more than one-thirds cheaper than an incandescent bulb.
  • Hang-Dry your Laundry- Hang drying laundry reduces the amount of energy used and will extend the life of your clothes.
  • Use Landscaping to your Advantage- Strategically plant deciduous trees around your home so they can provide shade in the summer, but will allow sun through during the winter.
  • Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances- If you are thinking of replacing appliances consider buying energy-efficient appliances, including air conditioners, furnaces, and water heaters.
  • Plan an Energy Audit- For expert advice and for recommendation specific to your needs, schedule an energy audit. Expert energy auditors will have special tools to target problems specific to your home. They will be able to create a timetable for improvements that will allow you to best finance and plan your improvements. To get the best energy audit, ensure that your auditor is RESNET Accredited.

ComEd Offers Energy Efficient Incentives, Tools and Tips to Save You Money and Protect the Environment
If you are looking for ways to save money and energy in your home, you'll find them with Smart Ideas for Your Home from ComEd.  Reducing your energy consumption is a smart thing to do.  You save money on your energy costs, and you can make a difference as we fight global warming. 


Green Products
Living Green in Skokie
If you are like most families you probably have an assortment of cleaning products, scrubbers and sprays. But according to Seventh Generation, the nation's leading brand of non-toxic and environmentally safe household products, the average household contains anywhere from 3 to 25 gallons of toxic materials, most of which are cleaners. No law requires cleaning product manufacturers to list ingredients on their labels or to safety test their products. But with a little time, organization and attention to product labels, you can have a healthy, complete and efficient collection of cleaning products that will not only help keep your house clean but help reduce indoor air pollution. Working to eliminate these ingredients from your household cleaning products will help decrease air pollution, increase air quality and promote a better environment and ecosystem.

Detoxify
To rid your house of toxic cleaning products, begin by reading each cleaning product and looking for labels which say 'warning', 'danger', or 'poison.' Do not dispose of these products by pouring them down your drain or by placing in your garbage bin. Rather, take them to a chemical waste collection event, such as those provided by the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC). For more information, visit www.swancc.org.

Green Cleaning
When re-stocking cleaning products, try to buy products that list natural ingredients on the label and purchase cleaners containing non-petroleum based surfactants that are chlorine and phosphate free and that are 'non-toxic' and biodegradable. Additionally, there are many household ingredients that make cleaning both healthy and environmentally safe. For example, mixing one teaspoon of lemon juice in one pint of vegetable oil makes a great alternative to furniture polish. Baking soda also makes a great deodorizer and cleaner. Combined with water, baking soda is an oven cleaner, sink and drain deodorizer and carpet freshener! For more information on the Village of Skokie Environmental Practices Committee, visit www.skokie.org and for more green tips and chemical waste disposal information, visit www.swancc.org


Green Commuting
Personal vehicles are responsible for much of the carbon emissions destroying the quality of our air. Fortunately, there are many things that you as an individual can do to lesson your impact. The best way an individual can reduce their carbon emissions output is to bike or walk, but these options are not always reasonable, so below are some other alternatives.

  • Utilizing mass transportation can save you money while also benefiting the environment. Skokie residents can take advantage of mass transit via the Skokie Swift station, giving them easy access to Downtown Chicago. Plans are under way to build an additional Skokie Swift station on Oakton. For more information on the Skokie Swift and its' schedule click here.
  • If you work further out in the suburbs and mass transportation is not an option, you may want to consider a vanpool. Pace offers a vanpool program that helps its participants drastically decrease their commuting cost. The program provides a van, and only cost the participants between $70 and $170 a month depending on the length of the commute and number of participants. This charge includes everything, which is significantly lower than owning and maintaining a vehicle. As an added incentive the driver does not pay the monthly fee and is able to use the van for personal miles. For more information on this program, visit http://www.pacebus.com/sub/vanpool/default.asp
  • There are many ways in which you can improve your gas mileage, find out how at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/FEG/drive.shtml

'Green' Links

Village of Skokie Sustainable Environmental Advisory Commission

www.swancc.org

www.cleanaircounts.org

http://www.energystar.gov/

http://www.kab.org/site/PageServer?pagename=index

http://www.epa.state.il.us/land/hazardous-waste/household-haz-waste/

http://www.worldwatch.org/resources/go_green_save_green

http://www.ehow.com/how_2015900_energy-efficient-home.html