Author: Laura B.

I'm the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center's Sustainability Information Curator, which is a fancy way of saying embedded librarian. I'm also Executive Director of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable. When not writing for Environmental News Bits, I'm an avid reader. Visit Laura's Reads to see what I'm currently reading.

Why Your Fridge Pollutes and How It’s Changing

Read the full story in National Geographic.

Your home’s refrigerator does more than store milk and meat. It also contains chemicals that emit greenhouse gases.

New fridges will likely be greener. In a switchover that will be largely invisible to consumers, more fridges and air conditioners are entering the U.S. market that will do less harm to the planet.

Compromise possible in state’s recycling programs

Read the full story from Suburban Life Media.

Manufacturers and those pushing for a change in Illinois’ electronics recycling law are inching closer to a compromise to save underfunded recycling programs statewide.

House Bill 1455 — filed in Springfield late last week — adjusts the funding formula that’s used by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to fund these in-demand electronics recycling programs. If nothing is done, the steep cost of recycling could shift to consumers or to local governments that hold collection events.

Funding opportunity: U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center: Energy and Water

The Department of Energy is soliciting applications for the formation of a Consortium to pursue five identified R&D topics at the nexus of energy and water. These topics are:

  1. water use reduction at thermoelectric plants;
  2. treatment and management of non-traditional waters;
  3. improving sustainable hydropower design and operation;
  4. climate impact modeling, methods, and scenarios to support improved energy and water systems understanding; and
  5. data and analysis to inform planning, policy, and other decisions.

Each responsive proposal will address all five topics; DOE is offering a mechanism to facilitate partnering during the Application process. The Consortium that is funded through this solicitation will form a new technical track under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, which is a bilateral initiative to encourage R&D collaboration and accelerate technology development and deployment in both countries (see: This DOE funding opportunity will support the U.S. Consortium. In parallel, and with equivalent resources, Chinese funding will support a counterpart Chinese Consortium.

Free Champaign County (IL) Electronics Collection Scheduled for April 11

Think About RecyclingA free countywide residential electronics collection event will be held on Saturday, April 11, 2015 from 8 AM to noon at Parkland College, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., Champaign, IL. The collection will be in Parking Lot M; enter from Duncan Rd.

Residents may bring the following electronics items (working or non-working) to the collection event. The limit is 10 items per household.

Computer components:

  • Computers, printers, copiers, monitors*, keyboards, speakers, mice, cables, PDAs
  • Software, CDROM/floppy disks, UPS, tablet computers
  • Computer parts including but not limited to: circuit boards, hard drives, optical drives, power supplies, ribbon cables, RAM
  • Networking equipment, hubs, switches, routers, cables, modems, scanners
  • Ink cartridges


  • Televisions*, VCRs, radios, stereo equipment, tape recorders, record players, remote controls, MP3 players, compact disc players, e-readers
  • Electronic toys, amplifiers, electronic keyboards
  • Hand-held gaming devices, game consoles, Walkmans, sewing machines
  • Digital cameras, camcorders

Communication Devices and Other Electronics:

  • Cash registers, typewriters, adding machines, calculators
  • Copiers, duplicators, voice recorders
  • Label makers
  • Portable power banks and coin counters
  • Telephones, PBX systems, answering machines, fax machines
  • CB radios, ham radios, cell phones, pagers, Black Berry/Palm Units, GPS units, Bluetooth serial port adapter
  • Rechargeable batteries, battery chargers and adapters, surge strips
  • Video recorders, video monitors, security systems, walki-talkies

Miscellaneous: cables/cords/wire

*not accepted: broken glass cathode-ray-tube televisions or broke glass cathode-ray-tube monitors. For a complete listing of items not accepted, please visit the Champaign County RRR webpage at

Wisconsin DNR considers selling state park naming rights

Read the full story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Wisconsin will consider selling naming rights to state parks to help them operate without tax support as proposed under Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget, Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp told lawmakers Tuesday.

Pipe Dreams: Advancing Sustainable Development in the United States

Read the full post at Greenversations.

When most of us think or speak about people who lack access to adequate drinking water and wastewater treatment — if we think or speak of them at all– it usually brings to mind folks in developing countries half way across the globe. Just as an upcoming United Nations Summit on development goals seeks to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,” we want the people of those countries to have the basic human rights that we may take for granted daily at our taps and toilets. Unfortunately, we often overlook communities in our own backyard who lack access to clean water and sanitation.

Here in the United States, communities that lack access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation can be found in colonias along the U.S.-Mexico border, in rural Alaska Native Villages, in Appalachia, and in the Black Belt of the southern U.S. In EPA’s Sustainable Communities Branch of the Office of Wastewater Management, we focus on these communities.

Energy-efficient buildings unite left and right

Read the full story at The Hill.

With the 114th Congress newly underway, leaders from both political parties have said they want to work together. All they need are issues that both sides can agree on. Here’s one — energy-efficient buildings.