Clean water runs through EcoMyths’ veins

Welcome to EcoMyths’ new website. We have a new look, but the same mission: to bring you simple nuggets of information about nature that are relevant to your daily life – and to have some fun with it! EcoMyths’ partners started busting myths in January 2009, inspired by the MythBusters TV show on Discovery Channel. Our whole first year was about Water in Chicago: Lake Michigan, the Chicago River system, and Illinois wetlands. We assembled a team of 21 people from 15 environmental groups in Chicago, all of whom had an interest in clean water.

The groups represented at the start included most of those who are still our partners today, including Alliance for the Great Lakes, Chicago Botanic Garden, Friends of the Chicago River, the Wetlands Initiative, DePaul University Environmental Science Department, the Wetlands Initiative, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Field Museum, Lake Forest Open Lands, and others. Even the City of Chicago Department of Environment chimed in on our early myth-busting efforts! Since then we have expanded our partnerships even further and are busting myths on all kinds of eco-topics!

We wanted to help people become aware of the sometimes unintended consequences of their well-intended actions and we thought busting environmental myths would be a fun way to go about it. As an active board member of a land trust in the Chicago region, I was motivated to help people with property adjacent to our nature preserves understand that their good intentions to create a lush, green lawn was making more work for our land managers. The chemical fertilizers our neighbors were using encouraged nasty, undesirable plants to grow in our woodlands and prairies – the same plants we were trying to get rid of! We realized that all of us make assumptions about how nature works, but there is no easy way to find out if our assumptions are right.

In 2009, EcoMyths was created to entertain and educate the public about the way nature works, simply as a collaboration among many partners. By the end of that year, the partners decided to incorporate as a non-profit organization — and EcoMyths Alliance was officially born!

Our early articles were all about water myths like

  • Is Lake Michigan so big it will never run out of water?
  • Is the Chicago River too dirty for fish?
  • Does pollution in Northern Illinois rivers stay in Illinois?
  • Do wetlands foster West Nile virus?

After our water series, we wrote about even more myths, including

  • Is dirt dead?
  • Are earthworms native to Illinois?
  • Are lawn fertilizers good for all plants?
  • Do pesticides kill only bad bugs?

This new website you are perusing introduces EcoMyths’ new myth-busting cartoons! We are growing our staff and will be adding even more topics, soliciting your ideas, expanding our offerings of regional events, and bringing you cutting-edge conservation science coverage. We will also be reaching out to you regularly on Twitter and Facebook, meeting you where you are spending time already. Your questions and ideas are the most important part of EcoMyths! We will be providing many ways for you to give us feedback and we look forward to hearing from you!

– Kate Sackman, President and Founder, EcoMyths Alliance