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Green Living

As the cry for sustainability grows, more and more individuals, businesses, nonprofit groups and governing bodies have begun investing in Earth-friendly, green living practices and programs. Conserving energy, lowering harmful chemical emissions into our environment and ultimately improving the air quality are significant issues facing the world – and the village of Buffalo Grove is no exception. As a result of this green movement, numerous initiatives have been put into place throughout the Buffalo Grove community with a mission to achieve and maintain an environmentally friendly and sustainable life for generations to come.

The Village of Buffalo Grove Leads the Way in Sustainable Living & Business Practices
The village of Buffalo Grove has taken a strong stance on promoting active stewardship in its community. In response to the need for enhanced environmental-based initiatives, it created the Environmental Committee—a dedicated group of leaders and citizens who have come together to develop and execute numerous environmentally-friendly policies and programming. The majority of these initiatives are promoted in conjunction with various local, regional and statewide partners.

The village follows the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus’ Greenest Region Compact of Metropolitan Chicago, is a member of the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) and is a part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense and WasteWise programs. It also works closely with the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) on a rewards program for ComEd clients who implement an energy-saving plan in their household and is active in the Clean Air Counts (CAC) initiative. In spring 2011, the village earned a Clean Air Community Platinum-level designation for its commitment to improving air quality in the Chicago metro area.

But, specifically, what has the village done to push sustainable living in the community? Among the many examples include a recycling program that encompasses both curb-side recycling and drop-off recycling at village Hall for items such as batteries, holiday lights, cell phones and digital cameras; the sale of Waste Management Bagster Bags, an energy-saving idea for those with larger-than-normal waste disposal needs; encouraging energy efficiency through municipal electric aggregation; advocating for the use of alternative transportation, such as public transit and bicycling; and promoting various local outreach and education programs and events.

In addition, the village of Buffalo Grove has invested greatly in the implementation of energy-saving products on its properties. It has consolidated multiple hardware servers in order to save 120 kilowatt hours each day; it continues to pursue energy star ratings for all new equipment; it utilizes compact fluorescent lighting and low or zero Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in its cleaning products and paints; it is currently experimenting with LED and induction lighting on exterior fixtures; and it has incorporated an energy power-saving policy in the office in order to reduce electrical consumption.

Learn more about the village’s environmental commitment and view its 2012 Environmental Plan online at

The Buffalo Grove Environmental Action Team (BG EAT): It’s a Group Effort
In the summer of 2008, local environmental activist Jeff Weiss approached the Buffalo Grove Park District and the Rotary Club of Buffalo Grove with an idea to launch a floating island on Green Lake. This floating island would filter out pollutants, thus improving water quality and providing a habitat for both wildlife and wetland plant life. The island was launched that August by an energized group of citizens.

Impressed by the event’s success and support, Jeff’s wife, Martha, then a park district commissioner, suggested implementing similar events in the community. From there, the idea for the Buffalo Grove Environmental Action Team (BG EAT) surfaced.

Since its first meeting in February 2009, the BG EAT has grown from 11 people to nearly 100 members, with a core group of 20 to 25 active people. The team, in conjunction with the village of Buffalo Grove and other community organizations, have sponsored—and continue to sponsor—a number of events and initiatives in town, including three electronics recycling events; bike events that have raised 150+ bikes for the Working Bikes cooperative; habitat restoration and maintenance work at Mike Rylko Community Park; clean-up days along Deerfield Parkway as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program; and a festival-wide recycling program and informational booth at Buffalo Grove Days and other events. In addition, the BG EAT had a hand in initiating the energy aggregation initiative on the March 2012 ballot and creating the new Lost Prairie Exhibit at the Raupp Museum, which ran between April 1 and June 30, 2012. The exhibit provided information on Buffalo Grove’s unique, unspoiled remnant of prairie.

The BG EAT continues to expand its influence in the community in 2012 through the addition of “Green Fest,” an environmental fair held on June 24; the creation of the Buffalo Creek Clean Water Parntership, a watershed management group; and the proposed development of a watershed-based plan for the entire watershed, which drains portions of 10 communities—from Lake Zurich to Wheeling. To learn more about this initiative, visit

For additional information on the BG EAT, go online,, or contact either Jeff Weiss ( or 847-224-0965) or Membership Chair Deenie Pomilia (

Individuals Helping the Environment at Home & in
the Community
While there is strength in numbers, there are also many things one individual can do to help the environment. From recycling pop cans to switching from plastic baggies to reusable containers for meals at work, sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

A big advocate for green living and sustainability is Buffalo Grove resident and businesswoman Kristi Smith. Kristi said she has always lived an environmentally-conscious lifestyle, implementing various green practices into her daily routine and even doing some humanitarian work in Mexico. “My friends and neighbors started off thinking that I was pretty strange. I used to be the ‘crazy cloth bag lady’ at the grocery store 10 years ago, and now [using cloth bags] has become mainstream,” she noted.

In addition to using cloth grocery bags, Kristi and her husband installed small solar panels in the backyard as a supplemental power source, practice collecting rainwater in barrels for watering plants and invest time in growing a large amount of organic vegetables from seed during the summer to be frozen, dehydrated or put into a root cellar to the last through the winter. Each drive hybrid cars and, in early 2012, Kristi, who owns her own business consulting firm, decided to close her office and send everyone to work from home. “This saves a lot of car exhaust from commuting, as well as the extra electricity and heat,” she said.

It’s not difficult to begin living greener, and according to Kristi Smith, every little bit counts. “Small investments and conscious actions contribute to an overall path towards greener living.”

Plus, acting as an eco-conscious consumer can save money—and in today’s world, that’s something we should all be excited about.

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