Think about environment this new year

Incorporate some earth-friendly actions in 2021

Happy New Year, Grundy County! Even though it may be a little late for the greeting, there is no better time than the beginning of the year to think about our earth and how to better to give back to it and to one another, and how to protect our families at home.

Saving natural resources by simply reorganizing your wardrobe

According to a World Resources Institute article titled “The Apparel Industry’s Environmental Impact in 6 Graphics,” it takes 2,700 liters, or about 713 gallons, of water to make one cotton shirt. The article also notes that polyester production is extremely carbon-intensive to the environment. People are generally buying less clothes now, which is good, but they are not keeping them as long because of poor quality. Fast fashion is a new term that describes the speed that textiles are produced and the rate we are getting rid of them.

The good news is that some companies are working on their sustainability by improving resource efficiency and increasing their clothing recycling. However, we also play a key and pivotal role in this fast fashion craze.

Many people’s New Year’s resolutions include organization, and the closet and wardrobe are usually the first to be checked. A good starting point is to decide which clothes you want to keep. Questions such as whether you still like it, how much you wear it and whether it still fits. Then, clothes can be sorted it to three piles:

  • Give away if in good condition
  • Start wearing
  • Repurpose for rags if worn out – soft T-shirts make great dust cloths

The donation of clothing gives second life to the garments, and this reuse provides for many around the world. Check the Grundy County Land Use Department’s Green Guide for locations and groups that will accept donations of clothing in our area at

Shopping with a conscience also is a good way to help keep sustainability in your clothes closet. Buy clothes that are well made and take care of them. Considering more sustainable fibers in textiles is a step toward future sustainability.

Giving of the heart

St. Valentine’s Day being right around the corner brightens the month of February. Make valentines with your family by using common household items that may be thrown away or recycled. Trash to treasure is the theme, and who doesn’t like a homemade valentine?

February is a great month to give others through blood donations. Blood banks are always in great need, and this is even more crucial during this time. If you have the ability to do so, you may check the Versiti, Red Cross and Morris Hospital sites for dates for blood drives. Giving from one heart to another heart is a great idea of caring and reusing blood, which is a precious gift.

Home safety

Firewood for those cold winter nights: Use firewood from limbs and branches cut down in your own yard, or someone else’s. Make sure it is well seasoned or dried to be used in your fireplace or wood stove. Creosote buildup is caused from an excessive amount of smoke rising through your chimney or vent. As the vent cools, the creosote will stick to the sides and layers begin to form. Creosote may be more prevalent in the burning of green wood, and creosote buildup in chimneys or vents is a highly combustible.

How can you tell if the wood is green? Green wood has bark that still is tightly attached and fresh-looking centers. Look for gray logs where the bark has either come off or is coming off easily. If the wood is stored outside, stack the wood such that there is air circulation around the longest length of the logs. Well-seasoned and dried wood will burn efficiently and produce enough heat for you and not cause excessive creosote buildup.

Radon testing: We all live in an area that has radon. Testing for radon during the winter months is one of the best times. For newer construction, the International Building Code requires that a passive radon system be installed, giving residents the ability to mechanically exhaust the radon after testing. Especially in older homes, if, after testing, values are high, radon mitigation should be completed by a licensed contractor.

Indoor air quality: If household painting projects or strong solvents for cleaning are used during this time of the year, make sure that the area is well ventilated for your respiratory health and safety of your family.

Events for 2021

All events that are being planned for the 2021 year will be issued onto our environmental resource and conservational office website,, after approval. There will be two e-waste events and three shredding events for residents, along with the toy drive in late November. If any of the events needs to be canceled, we will inform the public by posting that information on our website.

As always, Grundy County, it is a pleasure to serve you. Feel free to call me at 815-941-3229 or email me at

Thank you for giving back to the earth and to one another.

• Heidi Miller is the director of the Grundy County Land Use Department.