Earth Day: EPA's Earth Day Challenge

April 22, 2008
EPA's goal is to collect at least 1 million pounds of electronics or e-waste and 1 million pills during Earth Month to keep contaminants out of the Great Lakes.

EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Manager and Regional Administrator Mary A. Gade, Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott, Chicago Environment Commissioner Suzanne Malec-McKenna and Lyman Welch of the Alliance for the Great Lakes are urging Chicagoans to participate in the Earth Day challenge.

“Last summer, we saw an outpouring of support from thousands of people in the Great Lakes area who were concerned about pollution,” says Gade. “This Earth Day Challenge is another way for all those people – and many more just like them – to show they care. One person can make a difference for the Great Lakes by recycling unwanted electronics and properly disposing of medicines. Doing this will help prevent contaminants from polluting the Great Lakes.”

So far, more than 125 communities, organizations and businesses across the Great Lakes basin have stepped up and responded to the challenge by sponsoring collections. EPA is providing more than $500,000 in grants to help fund 26 collections in eight states. This includes last Saturday's collection at DeVry University and the upcoming collection on Saturday at Goose Island, which is co-sponsored by the City, Illinois EPA and the Alliance.

The public is encouraged to bring unused or expired prescription and non-prescription drugs, inhalers and mercury thermometers for free and proper disposal to the Chicago Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling facility at Goose Island at 1150 N. North Branch St.

“Protecting and preserving the Great Lakes and all our natural resources will take government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals all doing their part,” says Malec-McKenna. “The city of Chicago understands the seriousness of water quality and safety and we'll look to expand ways that Chicagoans can dispose of electronics and prescription drugs safely.”

IEPA Director Scott notes, “Today, we’re hoping people make a pledge to get out of the habit of flushing their unwanted medicines and in to the habit of doing the environmentally responsible thing by bringing their unused drugs to the collection.”

EPA and Earth911 have established a clearinghouse of collection events throughout the Great Lakes basin. It provides details about 23 collection events in the greater Chicago metropolitan area and northern Illinois. To find out about collection events, go to the Great Lakes Earth Day Challenge Web site http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/earthday2008.

Also, anyone can go to EPA's blog and share ideas: http://flowoftheriver.epa.gov/greatlakeschallenge.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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