Greening our Future in Peoria County

The first week of May across the county is National County Government Week. First celebrated in 1991, the week is geared toward educating the public about the roles and responsibilities of county government. More than 1,000 of the 3,068 counties nationwide participate in this week by holding workshops, tours of county facilities, and other events during the week. This year National County Government Week is May 3-7, and the theme is “Greening our Future.” The county of Peoria has numerous activities planned for this year’s event.

May 2-3 — Central Illinois Renewable Energy Expo – Kicking off the week is the Central Illinois Renewable Energy Expo. The expo is the brainchild of Gary W. Sutton. It started off as a college project that became a reality with the help of some friends, Roger Larson and Gene Pratt, and is now in its second year. It is also a fundraiser that benefits Peoria County 4-H and Extension Foundation, which aids the Peoria County University of Illinois Extension program. Last year’s event had approximately 1,000 attendees and organizers expect this year’s attendance will rise to 1,500-2,000.

The Renewable Energy Expo has many vendors with environmentally friendly exhibits and aims to teach the public on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle through exhibits, seminars, and demonstrations. Peoria County Recycling will be in attendance with an exhibit to educate people about recycling and will give a presentation titled “Vermicomposting: Wonderful Worms Make Wonderful Waste.” Other vendors include companies that focus on home energy audits, the environmental impact of home cleaning products, and ways to make your home more energy efficient. Additionally a 1985 VW Golf that was converted to run on cooking oil will be on display.

This year’s expo also will have the HVAC Green Awareness Trailer, which is a mobile green classroom that teaches individuals about the latest technologies in sustainable living and how we can use less natural resources by making buildings more energy efficient. Visit for more information.

There will be activities for children, including a play area made from recycled and reused items, multiple environmentally centric games, a science fair, and a robotics tournament.

The Central Illinois Renewable Energy Expo is intended to educate the public on how to be smart consumers. Attendees can “see what is available for sale, and then take that information home to plan for what they could do in the future for their homes and lives.” Gary W. Sutton, one of the founders of the Expo, is “not an expert on renewable energy subjects, but [he is] learning, right along with all the attendees and even some of the vendors.” He says, “We all learn things from each other. We all need to be better educated on how we can be the best we can be as a person, as communities, as the United States, and as a World!”

The Expo is Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3, at the Green Sports Complex in Mossville. Admission is $5 for ages 12 and up and free for under age 12. Contact Gene Pratt, 309-370-1395, or Gary Sutton, 309-282-4839, or go to for more information.

May 5 — Alternate transportation day – On May 5, Peoria County is encouraging everyone to use an alternate means of transportation for the entire day. Instead of driving alone in your car, organizers suggest carpooling with coworkers or classmates. Carpooling is a great way to meet and socialize with people while saving money and cutting down on the wear and tear on our cars. Many companies also give employee incentives for participating in a long-term carpool.

Another alternate option for transportation is to walk, run, or ride a bike. These activities make it easy to fit exercise into a busy schedule while helping the environment. An average size man can burn approximately 90 calories during a leisurely one mile walk, while an average size woman can burn approximately 75 calories per mile of leisurely walking, and a greater number calories are burned per mile as the pace increases. Imagine the health benefits of walking at a brisk pace at least two miles every day.

This all day event encourages us to think about our reliance on cars and the harmful effects it has on the environment, like contributing to greenhouse gases and using a finite resource of fossil fuels. Possibly, after one day we’ll be hooked on the alternate transportation we choose. Whatever choice in alternate transportation you choose, it will conserve energy, decrease fuel consumption, and decrease emissions.

May 7 — Waste free lunch – As a whole, Americans use billions of plastic, paper, and Styrofoam products. We use abut 40 billion plastic utensils a year. Many of us throw these items into the trash after one use, and they ultimately end up in landfills. Our landfills are packed with these types of disposable products, and possibly will stay there forever. Plastic and Styrofoam are petroleum derived products that take hundreds to thousands of years, if ever, to completely degrade. Styrofoam and plastic products may actually leach chemicals into the ground. Many landfills are reaching capacity and may need to shut down. Knowing the plight of the landfills and potential negative environmental impact, why not try to decrease the amount of waste we generate?

On May 7, the county of Peoria asks us to participate in Waste-Free Lunch Day. Pack your lunch in a reusable container, use silverware, a cloth napkin, and a reusable cup. If you do find yourself using plastic utensils or containers, try to reuse them a couple of times; do not throw them out after one use. The idea behind today is to make citizens aware of the amount of waste that can be generated in a single meal. Hopefully, after enjoying one day of a waste free lunch, many more waste-free meals will follow.

May 7 — Are you a green consumer? – Wrapping up the week is a workshop held by ICC titled “Are You a Green Consumer?” It is commonly thought that to be green, a person should reduce their waste, reuse items, and recycle; however, this workshop argues that to truly be green, a consumer should also buy recycled products. If it’s green to recycle plastic and other materials, then to be a true green consumer, we should purchase products made from recycled materials.

The workshop is held on Thursday, May 7 at the ICC North Campus. It runs from 6:00 p,m, – 8:00 p.m., and it’s free. You will receive a free recycled product if you wear green. For more information call 999-4545 or visit

For more information about Peoria’s participation in National County Government Week please call 309-672-6918 or visit

Amanda Knowles

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