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Green Living:  

Your guide to Earth-friendly practices and resources

Do something Earth-friendly, even now

1. Eat less meat & dairy

Avoiding meat and dairy is the single-biggest impact individuals can have on the environment. This was the conclusion reached by scientists who conducted the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet. Animal products create more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector. The new data show that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% — an area equivalent to the U.S., China, European Union, and Australia combined — and still feed the world. You don't have to quit meat and dairy completely; just reducing consumption makes a difference. Begin a meatless Monday routine with delicious recipes from one of these vegetarian cookbooks (e-books). 

2. Drink tap water

It's usually purer than bottled, plus as much as half of bottled water is actually...tap water! Bottled water requires up to 50 million barrels of oil worth of energy to produce, truck to stores, and transport. It also contains microplastics, which you ingest when you drink. Need more convincing? On average, bottled water costs about 600 times more than tap water. Calculate your savings at

3. Skip single-use disposables

Use and wash your own metal, wood, or bamboo spoons, forks, knives, or chopsticks. If you're getting food delivery in plastic bags, save them up, if you can, until stores reopen and they can be recycled. Same for foam/Styrofoam; collect it now and recycle it later so it doesn't head to landfills. 

Why? Huge amounts of plastic are plaguing our oceans and wildlife. (Here's the scoop on on plastic cutlery.) Accumulating plastics in our environment aren't a problem for tomorrow; they're posing a problem right now: the World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that the average person ingests about five grams of plastic a week — or about the size of a credit card. Based on that research, over the course of a year a person munches through more than 260 grams of plastic, or just over 9 ounces (more than a cup).

4. Reduce unwanted mail

Stop the delivery of unwanted catalogs and help save some trees, too, at

5. Choose renewable energy, without leaving home

Homeowners in Illinois can power their homes with solar or wind energy without panels or turbines anywhere in sight. Here's how:

• review green options here

• decide on a new supplier

• click the link to the supplier's website

• fill out the supplier's form

The provider does the rest. There's no charge for changing, though your kilowatt charge may change. It takes one month before the switch happens. It's completely seamless: The only difference is that the supply part of your electric bill will say something other than ComEd. ComEd continues to deliver and bill you.

Recycle curbside

Do put in recycling bins:

• all bottles & cans — give a quick rinse and toss them in

• cardboard — unsoiled

• all paper — newsprint, envelopes, uncoated wrapping paper, paper bags

• some plastic containers — check your municipality's guidelines

Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire, Long Grove: Waste Management

Riverwoods: Lakeshore Recycling Systems

Vernon Hills: Advanced Disposal

Don't put in recycling bins:

• plastic bags (they clog recycling plant machines): collect and recycle plastic bags at major retailers including Jewel, Mariano's,Target, Walmart, and Home Depot

• pizza boxes & other food-soiled cardboard; toss in the trash instead

• Styrofoam food containers & packing materials: collect now and recycle later, when everything opens up again

Read up

Browse and check e-books from the library:

Household waste & items disposal

Note: some programs may be halted during the COVID-19 pandemic

SWALCO guide to neighborhood programs

Input your village, town, or city, or select from the list to view waste disposal and recycling programs in each community. For all Lake County, Illinois, residents.

How do I dispose of...?

Electronics, light bulbs, art supplies, medications, building materials...lots of things should not go in your curbside trash or recycling bins. Whatever you're getting rid of, find out where to dispose of it or recycle it properly. For all Lake County, Illinois, residents.

Residential pick-up service (Buffalo Grove)

Dispose of CFLs, paint products, batteries, consumer electronics, household and garden chemicals, and other hazardous wastes by contacting their hauler for pickup. For Buffalo Grove, Illinois, residents and other Waste Management customers.

Non-toxic cleaning - author Becky Rapinchuk's blog, full of tips - the non profit Environmental Working Group's site promoting healthier living in a healthier environment - practical tips and inspiration to help you create a healthy home



Get inspired by a TED Talk about conservation, sustainability, and Earth-friendly experiments