Ken Santowski of Lakewood is so devoted to recycling that he didn't let even the brutal heat of the last few days deter him. "Everybody gets so lazy when it gets hot out, so I was like, 'OK guys, put your lunch bag over here, I'll separate it (between trash and recyclable materials) when it cools off,' " he said Friday.
That's what it takes to be among the recipients of the annual McHenry County Green Awards, given out by the department of health, which again put the spotlight on a simple concept -- it takes just a little extra effort to make a positive impact on the environment.
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This year's winners:
• Santowski, who owns the trucking company Chicago Logistic Service in Elgin, has spearheaded recycling efforts for waste packaging materials such as packing peanuts and Styrofoam. He not only implements a strict recycling policy at work, but established recycling locations in Lakewood and Algonquin. He's working on helping Jewel-Osco grocery stores in Elgin, Algonquin and Crystal Lake set up their own Styrofoam recycling program. He also picks up Styrofoam materials from Abbott Middle School in Elgin, and hopes to get more schools involved this year. He was especially proud that his daughters set up recycling bins when they had a Fourth of July party. "I even caught one of them picking a can out of the garbage," he said.
• Aptar Cary Campus with locations in Cary and McHenry, which manufactures aerosol and non-aerosol valves, for implementing a recycling program in its manufacturing processes, cafeteria and office areas; reusing packaging materials; and improving waste reduction practices. Hardy Duerig, material planner for Aptar McHenry, said the initiative began at the corporate level in 2009. Last year, the company recycled 89 percent or almost 1,500 tons of all waste. Thus far this year, that number is up to 93 percent, Duerig said. The company researched reputable recycling companies first, he said. "We worked hard so that everything we provide would be recycled, and not thrown into a landfill," he said.
• Bethany Lutheran Church of Crystal Lake, which promoted green practices among its congregation including a paperless messaging system and using "green" cloth bags instead of plastic bags, and purchasing recyclable supplies instead of, say, Styrofoam cups. Sandi Teiken, the church's director of lay ministry, said church officials attended a workshop in 2007 on how churches can be more green. Things kicked into high gear in 2008 when the church signed a contract with a garbage company that provides recycling, Teiken said. This spring, the church hosted its third Green Fair. "We're pretty excited about the things we've done, but of course we want to do more," she said.
• The village of Algonquin, which went the extra mile to provide recycling opportunities to its residents. Last fall, the village hosted a one-day recycling event for all kinds of materials, which resulted in collecting about 18,000 pounds of electronic waste and a truckload of items like clothes, toys and housewares. This fall's cleanup and recycling drop-off event will be scheduled in October.