2008 Interfaith Earth Healing Initiative
EPA says challenge a big success:
Goals met and exceeded.
As can be seen in this EPA Graphic of the 2008 Challenge Collection Event Results, 33 e-Waste Collection Events and 23 Unwanted Medicines Collection Events helped prevent millions of pounds of e-waste and millions of unwanted pills from contaminating the environment.
The Interfaith Earth Healing Inititiative would like to thank everyone who helped make this such a great success.
EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge Results Page:
(Erie, Pennsylvania) - Erie area residents dropped off about 600 pounds of medicine and personal care products on April 26, 2008 at the Cruise Boat Terminal Building during the Pennsylvania Sea Grant pharmaceutical collection.
Located behind the Dr. Raymond Blasco Memorial Library, the collection brought in over 73,000 pills and a lots of controlled substances like narcotic pain medication, said Sara Grisè, PA Sea Grant coastal outreach specialist.
Collected 120 gallons of materials
5 of the 120 gallons were controlled substances
About 600 pounds worth of medicine and personal care products
Controlled category II:
130 milliliters of liquids
Controlled category III, IV, V:
1,180 milliliters of liquids
102 milliliters of liquids
4 pieces of gum
Non-Controlled total: 69,232 pills
Personal Care products: 384
The challenge involved over 100 collections across eight states. Lake Erie's reputation especially in the 1960s and 1970s was an extremely polluted and even dead lake. By all accounts, residents and officials have done a great job restoring Lake Erie - where fishing, boating and swimming are popular.
The EPA Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan helped the recovery of Lake Erie. Officials have been fighting the Zebra Muscle problem in Lake Erie.
One pharmaceutical collection goal was to prevent medicine s from being discharged into Lake Erie and make sure drugs don't end up in other lakes and streams.
Many wastewater treatment plants around the world are not designed to remove the cocktail of chemicals after the drugs are flushed or dumped down the drain - and the drugs can leach out of landfills into the groundwater.
Unsung heros at pharmaceuticals collections are police and pharmacists without whom the collections wouldn't be possible. Erie Police, pharmacists accepted pharmaceuticals.
Based on experience, organizers discovered the turnout was bigger when residents don't have to preregister. Of 87 residents participating in the collection, 61 did not preregister.
And similar to the other collections, most Erie participants were older adults as 89 percent were over the age of 46.
Assisting the event was ECS & R - Environmental Coordination Services and Recycling in Cochranton, PA.
Organizers of the Erie collection included PA Sea Grant, the City of Erie, Lake Erie-Allegheny Earth Force, LECOM School of Pharmacy, and Erie Times-News in Education.
Organizers partnered with WJET-TV Erie Green Campaign.
WSEE TV provided their news story for use in this video.
The PA Sea Grant received a grant from the United States EPA (EPA). The goal of the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge was the collecting and recycling of one million pounds of electronics (e-Waste) plus the collection and proper disposal of one million pills.
The EPA says those goals were exceeded by 400 to 500 percent.
The Earth Healing Initiative assisted some challenge organizers by offering interfaith liaisons to volunteer and encourage members of local churches and temples to participate in the Earth Day related events in their area.
This video on the projects connected to the Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge was made possible by a grant from the US EPA in collaboration with the EPA's Region 5 office, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office in Chicago and the non-profit Interfaith Earth Healing Initiative in Marquette, MI.
The EHI involves American Indian tribes and a coalition of churches, synagogues and other faith traditions joining together to heal, protect and defend the environment.
Greg Peterson, Earth Healing TV
Organizers thank following organizations who were part of the team that make the collection program a success:
Community Health Net
In November 2006, Sara Grisè joined Pennsylvania Sea Grant as a Coastal Outreach Specialist:
Erie Police Dept.
Erie photos courtesy Pat Noble aka Pnoble805, a member of WikiProject Erie
City of Erie flag/seal are courtesy the English Wikipedia Graphics Lab & Cronholm144
Justice St. Rain
Pennsylvania Sea Grant
Pharmaceutical collection photos by Anna McCartney, Erie Times-News in Education
Residents turn out for Keep Unwanted Medicine out of Lake Erie Medicine Collection Day
Shallow Lake Erie photo by Environment Canada
Ohio EPA Lake Erie photo
Lake Erie Photo courtesy Jim’s Photos Unixdoctor
EPA/Bay City Times/Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab Photo
Lake Erie view from Cranch Park
Erie Police Dept. officers
LECOM School of Pharmacy students
Photo by Lyman Welch, Water Quality Program manager for the Alliance for the Great Lakes
On April 26, 2008 Chicago residents disposed of tons of unused medicines to keep them out of the Great Lakes, where pharmaceuticals are known to harm wildlife and may also be harming people who tap the Lakes for drinking water.
The Alliance for the Great Lakes co-hosted a prescription drug collection at the Chicago Household Hazardous Waste facility on Goose Island. The collection was jointly sponsored with the Illinois EPA, U.S. EPA and City of Chicago.
The public dropped off unused and expired prescription and non-prescription drugs, inhalers and mercury thermometers for free and proper disposal.
“Flushing unwanted medicines down toilets leads to potential contamination of the Great Lakes and drinking water supplies,” said Lyman Welch, Water Quality Program manager for the Alliance. “Disposing of unused and expired medicines through collection programs is a responsible step everyone can take now to prevent water pollution at the source.”
The special collection was part of the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge to collect 1 million pills of unwanted medicines and 1 million pounds of unwanted electronics, or e-waste, for responsible disposal.
Across the Great Lakes region, communities stepped up by signing on and participating in the EPA challenge.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, the U.S. Geological Survey and the EPA are increasingly troubled by studies showing organisms exhibiting altered gender ratios, sluggish behavior, and even increased reproduction rates as a result of exposure to pharmaceuticals and other pollutants that disrupt the body’s hormonal system.
Scientists say such findings may indicate that people, especially children and other sensitive populations, could also be affected.
The pathway is clear. Many, unaware of the consequences, continue to follow old directives to flush unwanted medicines down the toilet, leading to the potential contamination of surface and ground waters. Furthermore, whenever someone ingests a pill, some of the drug is absorbed by the body but the rest passes through and is flushed down the toilet.
The wastewater is treated before it is discharged to reservoirs, rivers or lakes, and again at drinking water treatment plants before it is piped to consumers. But conventional sewage treatment methods were not designed to remove this type of contamination.
For now, regulators say the most practical and rapid way to protect public health from the threat of pharmaceutical pollution is to eliminate it at the source wherever possible.
“This collection is beneficial not only to residents who want get rid of the unused antibiotics or other drugs lining their medicine cabinets -- but also to the environment,” said Doug Scott, director of the Illinois EPA.
While certain prescription medicines were accepted - controlled substances like narcotics were not and organizers say that is a problem. Police officers and pharmacists are required to collected controlled medications.
The collection site was unable to accept controlled substances because of strict federal laws, said the Alliance’s Welch, adding “Federal controlled substance laws must be revised to make it easier for consumers to return unused or expired drugs for proper disposal.”
Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes (formerly the Lake Michigan Federation) is the oldest independent citizens' organization in North America.
Its mission is to conserve and restore the world's largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife.
More about the Alliance for the Great Lakes is online:
Gang graffiti, litter removed by Menominee tribal students; cache of meds, e-waste turned in
Menominee tribal school students remove gang graffiti, pick up litter; College students collect 23 pounds of pills; dozens of computers in Earth Week projects connected to the EPA Great Lakes Earth Day Challenge
(Keshena, WI) - Faculty and students brought their old computers, cell phones and medicines to an e-waste and pharmaceutical collection site at the tribal college in Keshena, Wisconsin to help a federal Earth Day challenge to clean up the Great Lakes Basin, while younger students have been cleaning up the reservation and whitewashing gang graffiti.
At the College of Menominee Nation, the e-waste and medicine collections went without a hitch as people turned in hundreds of items on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at the campus commons.
Over 23 pounds of medicines were turned in including about 100 bottles of pills, more than 25 computers and dozens of related components like hard drives, printers, keyboards and speakers. American Indian households are dropped off televisions, radios, DVD players, 12 cell phones and over 100 small batteries used to power the electronics.
Tuesday's six-hour collection is among numerous Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin projects that are part of the United States Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge that runs through the end of April.
Gang graffiti was whitewashed from a wall at a skateboard park near the tribal school this week by K-8 students on the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin reservation who wanted to clean up the area in honor of Earth Day and replace the negative message with a positive Native American symbol.
"The younger students put their hands in paint and made flower hand prints on the wall," said teacher Beth Waukechon. "All week students have been cleaning up the reservation, and one student was so inspired she wants to start an Earth Club."
On Friday, April 25, over 180 students will be cleaning up litter around the community of Neopit, one of four towns on the 234,000-acre reservation known for its thick forests and 24-miles of the pristine federally protected Wolf River.
"The students are giving thanks to Mother Earth for all that she had done," Waukechon said. "They are taking a moment each day to do that."
"We know that she (Mother Earth) can shake us off at any moment," Waukechon said. "We are the ones that need her - she doesn't need us."
Another project, "Clean up the Rez Day" will be held by the tribe's Youth Development and Outreach program from 3:30 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 24.
The Menominee Teen Court Panel and other volunteers will walk around the reservation cleaning up litter and garbage, said Claudette Hewson, MITW Restorative Justice Coordinator.
The litter will be separated and when possible recycled through the MITW Solid Waste/Recycling Department.
The panel is comprised of teens, ages 14 to 17, some of whom have been in minor scrapes with the law. The teen panel acts as a peer review for youthful offenders sentenced in tribal court who "need to learn healthy behaviors," Hewson said.
On May 2, at-risk teens sentenced to probation and parole will paint over gang graffiti around the reservation.
Sponsors of the ongoing project include the tribe's Community Resource Center, Menominee County Police, Menominee Tribal Police, Tribal Clinic Wellness Program, Maehnowesekiyah, Probation and Parole, Community Recycling Project, Recreation Department, EarthHealing.org and the U.S. Post Office in Keshena.
This week all classes at the tribal school have been applying subjects like math, history and others to different aspects of the life cycle, biology and value of the sturgeon, an important fish to the Menominee tribe.
The college's Implementing Sustainable Development classes, that sponsored e-waste and medicine collections, found out Tuesday during the project that they had won the National Recycling Coalition Bin Grant through Coca-Cola, said class professor William Van Lopik, Ph.D.
"One of premises of the class is to do things, not just talk about what we are going to do and how the world is going to be changed, but having students do things," Dr. Van Lopik said.
The college was among 75 colleges and universities, and the only tribal college, to receive the grant out of over 1,100 applicants, Van Lopik said.
The grant pays for 50 recycling bins to be placed around the campus and other areas.
The class has participated in the ten-week Recycle Mania project two years in a row that involves weighing recyclables as they leave the building. This year, the class ranked 136 out of 200 colleges and universities with 8 pounds of recyclables per person, beating out Ohio State and Georgetown, Van Lopik said.
The MITW is holding a curbside pickup of electronics for members during Earth Week, April 21-24. A couple thousand pounds of electronics have been turned in at the MITW transfer station since April 1 and the total weigh of circuit boards to be recycled is expected to reach several tons by the end of the month.
Native American students, their parents and others recently created "Garbage Monsters" out of bottles, paper and other items found in their trash in a project at the Keshena Public Schools, said Diana Wolf, MITW Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator. After naming their monsters, the students gave a presentation on other uses for the garbage they used to make the creatures.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the challenge to Great Lakes basin residents participating in over 100 projects in literally hundreds of communities that are collecting pharmaceuticals, electronics and household poisons. The EPA awarded grants to some of the projects.
The MITW and interfaith groups are volunteering in the challenge to help the EPA reach its goal of one million pounds of e-waste and one million pills across the Great Lakes basin states of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.
"We will do whatever it takes to do cradle to grave recycling," Wolf said, adding the tribe follows EPA guidelines. "We are not making a profit off of it but it is the right thing to do."
With assistance from an EPA grant, the new non-profit Earth Healing Initiative (EHI) is offering a wide range of free services to the MITW and some of the cities to hold e-waste and pharmaceutical collections.
The EHI involves American Indian tribes and "a coalition and partnership of churches, synagogues and other faith traditions joining together and sharing their projects and resources to heal, protect and defend the environment," said EHI founder Rev. Jon Magnuson of Marquette, Michigan.
Trust between religions and Native American communities including participating in joint environment projects are vital to protect the future of the earth, said a Lutheran bishop, who has participated in numerous Earth Day recycling projects.
"We are in an environmental crisis in many ways," said Lutheran Bishop Thomas A. Skrenes of the Northern Great Lakes Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). "The Great Lakes watershed is really a kind of a mother to all of us here in the populated areas of the upper Midwest."
Interfaith and Native American participation in environment projects like the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge will help ensure a better future for all humans, Skrenes said.
The Earth Healing Initiative volunteers are working with challenge project organizers in numerous cities including Milwaukee, Chicago, Duluth and the Greater Cleveland Area.
For more information & contact info call:
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Youth Development & Outreach
Youth Development and Outreach
Earth Healing Initiative Keshena, WI page:
Earth Healing Initiative:
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin homepage
College of Menominee Nation
Earth Week Flyer - Call: Diana 715-799-5189 or Jeremy 715-799-5710 :
Great Lakes Inter Tribal Council
Samuels Recycling - Green Bay, WI:
Links to sites about Samuel's Recycling in Green Bay & Buyer Mike Zastrow - 1-920-494-3451
Challenge TV: EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge: Gang graffiti & litter targeted by young tribal students, Menominee tribe adults collect cache of pills, e-waste in Wisconsin
Helen Dagner popular site:
Earth Times article put out by Coca-Cola: MITW College of Menominee Nation class that sponsors event learns about this award during actual collection:
3.5 Tons Turned in at Medicine Collection Day
(Milwaukee, WI) - In just four hours, more than 2,000 people delivered 3.5 tons of unused medication to collection sites in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, and Washington Counties for the third annual Medicine Collection Day.
The event is held to help protect our rivers and Lake Michigan, prevent childhood poisonings, and reduce substance abuse.
Never flush or pour old medicine down the drain. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove them from wastewater.
Law enforcement destroys controlled substances, which include: narcotic pain killers, cough syrup with codeine, and tranquilizers.
Veolia Environmental Services incinerates non-controlled substances at a federally licensed incinerator. Examples of non-controlled substances include: blood pressure medicine, aspirin, and cholesterol medication.
The program thanks the following partners: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Milwaukee Police, Milwaukee Brewers, City of Milwaukee, Aurora Pharmacy, Columbia St. Mary's, City of Racine, Racine Police Department, Burlington Police Department, Western Racine County Health Department, Caledonia/Mt. Pleasant Health Department, Ozaukee County Public Health Department, Ozaukee County Sheriff's Department, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Village of Saukville, Washington County, Washington County Sheriff's Department, and City of West Bend Sewer Utility.
How can you help protect Lake Michigan?
Date: April 28, 2008
Contact: Kim Duane Elliott, GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY-- Resource Recovery Marketing/Education Specialist
28,750 Pounds of Computer Equipment Collected
Traverse City, Mich.- Saturday, April 26, was a banner day for Grand Traverse County's recycling program. Trucks in the parking lot of Sam's Club awaited the arrival of old computers and other computer related material. Over 28,750 pounds (over 12.5 tons) of this material was collected from local individuals and businesses for recycling through the Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan Inc.-Dell program. Because of this program, material that might have ended up in land fills will now be recycled and component parts utilized. Goodwill is registered with the Grand Traverse County "Take It Back" program. For more information on this and similar recycling opportunities, visit www.recyclesmart.info or call the recycle hotline at 941.5555.
In additional observance of Earth Week, residents were treated to free compost, courtesy of the Traverse City Street Department and Grand Traverse County Resource Recovery. The event, scheduled to take place between 8:00 and noon at the Farmers' Market parking lot on the Grandview Parkway, attracted hundreds. With shovels, buckets, trailers and trucks, people took advantage of the opportunity to enrich their lawns and gardens with free compost. 100 yards of compost was scooped up by noon.
About Grand Traverse County Resource Recovery
The "Take It Back" program provides information on where consumers can return unwanted products to local providers/ businesses for reuse, recycling or responsible disposal. This is another program developed by the Grand Traverse County Resource Recovery Department, in order to reach the Grand Traverse County diversion goal of 42% by the year 2012. This information is available at the www.recyclesmart.info website and is continuously updated with the most current data.