Green Drinks seeks ecological connections
By Romi Herron For The Courier-News
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Local Green Connect:
Pieces of a woodland prairie — and the native vegetation growing in it — have been relocated from Elgin throughout the western suburbs, thanks to volunteers from Green Drinks.
The non-profit organization meets regularly to increase awareness about environmental issues, according to Kathleen Haerr of Elgin, the local group’s organizer.
“My main goal is to get people together to learn more,” said Haerr, whose professional background is interior design. “I am concerned with what people have inside their homes, which leads to the yard and leads to everything else. So it is a human connection that I have to the environment.”
That connection — and the environmental need for communities to know more about decisions that affect the environment — led to Haerr bringing the group together a year ago, she said.
Green Drinks is an international association founded in 1989, and the Elgin branch is the hub for all the chapters. The local branch meets once a month, with the next meeting scheduled for January.
Currently, Green Drinks has more than 60 members from professions including architecture, building, landscaping and green business ownership — all seeking to learn and make a difference, she said.
Reducing toxins and minding air quality are two factors in “green” interior design and building, she said.
Meeting topics have included water harvesting, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified buildings in the Elgin area, organic farming and gardening, and prairie restoration.
Green Drinks’ November meeting focused on sustainable water sources for Kane County. Paul Schuch, director of Kane County’s Water Resource Department, presented “Peak Water.”
“There is plenty of rainfall in the Chicago region to supply needs, but when you need the most water — summer — is when we have the least rainfall,” Schuch said. “So you have to store water” so it can be accessed year-round.
In addition to meetings, the group also engages in coordinated activities to benefit the environment.
Saving a prairie
“In the past year, we actually rescued a woodland prairie in Elgin that was going to be destroyed where a new home was to be built,” Haerr said. “Forty volunteers came, dug it up, put pieces of it in their trucks and moved it to different areas, like old cemeteries, school districts, a nature preserve.”
The project began when a couple contacted Haerr and told her they wanted to save the native vegetation on their lot, but needed help to accomplish the move.
The property owners also had several oak trees on the lot that needed to be removed to make space for the home, so they hired a professional mill specialist who created boards from the trees for the actual construction of the home.
“And I’m going to help them with their interior design, too,” Haerr said. “I’m also journaling the process for them, too. This is what we need to share with people” so they can make environmentally conscious decisions, too.
More information about the organization is available at www.greendrinks.org.