Wheaton names winners of its first Sustainability Award

Wheaton residents are turning the town green in nearly every way imaginable.

At the Nov. 20 city council meeting, four adults, a high school student, one business, and a school received Wheaton's first Sustainability Awards from the city's environmental improvement commission.

The commission encouraged the community to nominate outstanding individuals, businesses/organizations and students whose actions influence others to adopt sustainable practices.

In line with the city council's strategic priority of promoting environmental sustainability, the recipients of these awards demonstrate a commitment to improving our local environment in a wide variety of ways.

• Jim and Cathy Truesdale's dedication to recycling is next-level. The Truesdales are extremely conscientious of reducing their carbon footprint, using minimal electricity for heating and cooling, installing solar panels, driving a used electric hybrid vehicle, and even recapturing laundry water to fill toilet tanks. Jim consistently volunteers at the city's monthly recycling events and was instrumental in starting the Northern Illinois Food Bank in the early 1980s, sustaining hungry people.

• Bill Nieman and Rita Nathanson are models of sustainable living in many ways, including riding their bikes anywhere they can, driving fully electric cars, and using an electric lawn mower. In their yard, they use a rain barrel, compost, grow many of their own vegetables, and have native plants throughout their landscape. Both serve on the Wheaton Bicyclist & Pedestrian Commission and volunteer for the DuPage County Forest Preserve.

• Yusuf Hussain, a Glenbard West High School student, has a passion for conservation and sustainability, demonstrated through hard work transforming several areas in Wheaton. For his Eagle Scout project at Carriers of Light School and in his own yard, he removed invasive buckthorn and planted native species. Yusuf also set up rain barrels and chose native fruit trees to promote farm-to-fork lifestyles. In addition, he has taken many environmental courses at Glenbard West and plans to study this field in college.

• Downtown Wheaton business Andrew's Garden earned a Sustainability Award for their concerted effort to use sustainable floristry practices, plus educating the Wheaton community and the floral community. They use locally grown flowers during Midwest growing seasons; eliminated the use of toxic floral foam; do not use dyes, bleach or paint on flowers in their arrangements; send floral waste to be composted; and choose compostable wraps and paper products. They attend the Sustainable Flowers Project and share this knowledge with others in the floral business, and they run a vase recycling program at their shop.

• The Prairie School of DuPage, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school, practices sustainability with its students on a daily basis. The school holds a mission to heighten students' environmental awareness and promote stewardship through developing ecological values out of firsthand experience. Students participate in waste-free lunches, composting and gardening. In addition, the school models sustainability through respectful use of carefully sourced materials, using green energy alternatives, and working toward becoming a carbon-negative school.

Congratulations to Wheaton's inaugural Sustainability Award winners.

The city's environmental improvement commission leads numerous programs throughout the year to promote sustainability, including monthly electronic recycling collection events, and annual events such as the Prairie Path Cleanup, Native Plant Sale, Recycling Extravaganza, and more.

To find out more about the Environmental Improvement Commission and how you can get involved, go to

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