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Green Living

green living

“Protecting the environment is important to the health and well-being of Homer Glen citizens” is one of Homer Glen’s Core Values. It is just one of several distinct goals and demands the Village is making on itself to its residents. Because of this commitment, the Village is addressing two very different but very real forms of waste — wasted light and e-waste in the environment.

Dim & Direct: A Bright Idea

Living in a world of 24/7 lighting has disrupted animal and vegetation life. Bright lights at night disrupt the natural flow of all living things. Animal sleep cycles and habits are affected; trees tend to hold foliage long into winter months, thereby altering the natural, seasonal blooms; insect populations migrate to follow this artificial light, causing a gap in bird and reptile diets. Turning excessive or unnecessary night lighting down or off helps protect all wildlife.

tree

The human body is not immune to the effects of extensive, non-stop lighting either. Over 20 years ago, Richard Stevens, a cancer epidemiologist and professor at the University of Connecticut, first discovered a link between cancer and light disturbances in sleep. In 2008, Fred Shaffer, a professor of psychology at Truman and specialist in physiological psychology stated, “Melatonin is a hormone that usually is released at night and can act as a tumor suppressant. There are cells in our retinas and eyes called ganglion cells," Shaffer said. "These cells are light-sensitive, so they allow the pineal gland to know when it's dark and we are able to trigger melatonin this way." Being in a constant light environment or working overnights, may limit production of the proper amount of melatonin the body needs to combat tumors.

On December 18, 2007, the Homer Glen Village Board passed an ordinance regulating all outdoor lighting. A seven-year process from initial conception to final approval, it is the only stand-alone outdoor lighting ordinance in Illinois. This is not a no-light ordinance but rather an ordinance to regulate wasted light. One example of wasted light we can all see is on our streets. Any street light that has a drop down, tear-shaped lens has light refracted out in all directions instead of down to the ground where it is intended. In the United States alone, approximately $2 billion a year is lost in misdirected, wasted lighting. According to Debra Norvil, Homer Glen resident and leading advocate for the ordinance, “Lower wattage light bulbs with proper reflectors, saves energy and money — for everyone.”

Governor Pat Quinn, speaking at a news conference in Chicago on March 26, 2008, honored the Village for this outdoor lighting ordinance and its ability to help the Village reduce light pollution while increasing energy efficiency. “Homer Glen’s ordinance demonstrates that good outdoor lighting uses the right amount of light, where and when it is needed, without wasting energy by sending light up into the sky,” said Quinn. “The Village of Homer Glen and its model light pollution ordinance have set an excellent example for other communities in Illinois and across our nation. Homer Glen's dark-sky ordinance conserves energy, protects wildlife and reminds all of us of the natural beauty of a starry night.”

Quinn went on to say that he hoped other people throughout the state would follow Homer Glen’s example by turning off unnecessary lights to participate in the upcoming Earth Hour on March 29, 2008.

Earth Hour, organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is a voluntary action designed to conserve electricity and lower carbon emissions. A release from the WWF after the event stated, “In Chicago, ComEd reported that electricity usage declined seven percent both in the City of Chicago and throughout its Northern Illinois service territory during Earth Hour.” That seven percent decline equated to 818-megawatt hours or the equivalent of more than 72,000 gallons of gasoline consumed. You do the math.

For more information, please visit Earth Hour at: www.earthhour.org.

As of December 2007, all new development must comply with the lighting ordinance. Municipal facilities and existing commercial businesses have until November 2018 to conform with this ordinance, under a Sunset Clause. It is best summed up in Governor Quinn’s own words, “With this progressive ordinance, Homer Glen has literally reached for the stars.”

Earth Day 2008

earth day

Homer Glen is a community committed to preserving the environment. This was evident in the successful turnout of their first Annual Earth Day/Arbor Day Celebration on April 26, 2008. The Village’s motto of “Community and Nature in Harmony” is evident through the balance and respect residents have for their natural surroundings. Exhibits, entertainment and interactive-educational activities helped the Village share information about nature, conservation and energy efficiency. Families were able to see many animals up close, take seedling trees home to plant and bring with them numerous items to recycle. Children and adults learned better ways in which to promote cost-effective, eco-awareness for the protection of their environmental future thanks to the Homer Glen Environment Committee, local businesses and numerous community volunteers.

The residents and local businesses of Homer Glen have learned that environmental practices work best when shared. The Village, many local businesses and concerned residents are working together to find better ways to clean up their environment. Ethan Fialko, a resident of over 15 years and new business owner, is working with the Village in the hope that electronic recycling will become a way of life in Homer Glen. In 2007, he started E-Cycle Technologies with the desire to have a place for residents to discard their e-junk, instead of it ending up in a landfill. “The Village and I discussed having a Recycle Day in the spring of 2009,” said Fialko. “Homer Glen is very good about working with new organizations toward a greener environment.”

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