Recently Sustainable Springfield, Inc. (SSI) board members toured the Ecology Action Center (EAC) located in Normal Illinois. The EAC is a not-for-profit environmental agency dedicated to the mission of “inspiring and assisting residents of McLean County in creating, strengthening, and preserving a healthy environment.” SSI’s mission is similar in scope for the Springfield area. SSI took this opportunity to learn how they can use the EAC as a model and better serve the Springfield area in their mission.
As part of the tour, SSI members got a brief history on how the EAC was established in McLean County. It all started with a recycling drive 43 years ago in 1971. This recycling drive was the starting point for community involvement in local environmental issues. The community’s demand for continued environmental efforts set the foundation for EAC’s future. Through the years the recycling programs in McLean County have evolved to include many more waste recycling opportunities. The Ecology Action Center took on recycling in 1990 to become the solid waste agency for the community and the county. As an ever evolving organization, their new focus is on hazardous waste. The EAC has a partnership with the city of Normal to raise funds for the recycling programs through fundraising efforts. This history shows that a small step can lead to big change. Organizations working together along with city and citizen involvement can make a difference.
The EAC provides residence and businesses in the McLean County area with education, support, and resources in a variety of areas, not just recycling. The EAC website www.ecologyactioncenter.org is an impressive bank of information for the McLean County community, providing information on topics such as recycling, business recycling, reuse and exchange, clean water, household hazardous waste, energy, radon, and the local yard smart program. Many of these efforts mirror the efforts of SSI. SSI would like to incorporate some of the education and resources offered on the EAC website in an effort to help Springfield in their commitment to sustainability.
The EAC has become “the central resource for environmental education, information, and outreach for McLean County.” By modeling the efforts of the EAC, SSI hopes to become the central resource for the Springfield area.
So please check out the Ecology Action Center website at www.ecologyactioncenter.org and see the future envisioned for Sustainable Springfield, Inc.