5W Wednesday: The Ecology Center

Our 5W Wednesday series highlights a variety of health care organizations, professionals and programs that keep our community healthy.

Who is the Ecology Center?

The Ecology Center is a membership-based, nonprofit environmental organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Ecology Center is a regional leader that works for a safe and healthy environment where people live, work, and play.

The Ecology Center works at the local, state, and national levels for clean production, healthy communities, environmental justice, and a sustainable future.  They run numerous programs, including several that focus on environmental health:

  • The Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health, a coalition founded by the Ecology Center that includes a wide range of health-professional and health-affected organizations, dedicated to a safe and less toxic world for Michigan’s children. Through education, outreach, and advocacy, the MNCEH works to change current policies and practices that result in exposure of children to environmental toxicants.
  • HealthyStuff.org, which researches chemical hazards in consumer products to promote chemical policy reform. HealthyStuff.org maintains a large database of their findings to help consumers make better choices in the marketplace.

What does the Ecology Center do?

The Ecology Center works for a just and healthy environment through grassroots organizing, advocacy, education, and demonstration projects. Today, their major programs are:

  • Environmental Education, a program reaching 10,000 K-12 students and teachers in southeast Michigan every year.
  • Environmental Health Project, working to protect our health from toxic chemicals in food, air, water, and household products.
  • HealthyStuff.org, researching consumer product chemical hazards to promote chemical policy reform.
  • Land Use, preserving farmland and natural areas, concentrate development where infrastructure exists, and reduce traffic congestion.
  • Healthy Food in Health Care,  an effort to encourage health-care facilities to provide healthier food choices for their patients, visitors and staff, which will help build a more sustainable and local food supply network.
  • Recycle Ann Arbor, a wholly-owned nonprofit subsidiary of the Ecology Center offering a variety of recycling and reuse services for households, businesses, and municipalities.
  • Energy Works Michigan, another nonprofit subsidiary that provides energy audits and energy conservation services to Michigan Public Schools.

When was the Ecology Center founded?

The Ecology Center was founded by community activists after the country’s first Earth Day in 1970.

Where can you find the Ecology Center?

The Ecology Center has been located at 117 N. Division in Ann Arbor since 1993, but will be moving later this month to a LEED-renovated commercial office building at 339 E. Liberty.  For general information, email info@ecocenter.org or call (734) 761-3186.  Visit their website more detailed contact information.

Why do we need the Ecology Center?

The Ecology Center’s work over the past 40 years has benefited the people of Michigan in many different ways.  Among those efforts:
  • $100 million to fight sprawl: Over the past decade, they have led six ballot campaigns in Washtenaw County, successfully asking voters to approve special millages for land preservation. These efforts have transformed the local real estate market, slowing sprawl and preserving thousands of acres of farmland and open space.
  • 100,000 subscribers to HealthyStuff.org: They have expanded the frontiers of citizen science, using X-ray fluorescence technology to create the nation’s most comprehensive database of toxic substances in everyday products. National and international publicity has brought this news to millions of readers and viewers – and empowered consumers are winning changes in how companies make their products.
  • Millions of cars, lead- and mercury-free: As a Michigan-based environmental group, they have led the effort to make America’s motor vehicles cleaner and greener. They’ve gotten lead and mercury out of millions of new cars produced each year; now they’re working on cleaning up old vehicles and greening the aftermarket.

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