The records of the Ecology Center document the efforts of this grassroots community organization to increase environmental awareness through the establishment of recycling and energy conservation programs, and by publicizing the need for pesticide control and responsible solid waste disposal among other issues. The series in the record group are: Administrative Files, Topical Files, Printed Materials and Publicity, and Visual Materials.
The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor was formed one month after Earth Day in May 1970. ENACT (Environmental Action for Survival) and a group of community volunteers founded the Ecology Center as an independent, non-profit organization for the promotion of environmental awareness, education, and advocacy. The organization's initial commitment to the environment was reflected in its recycling program, environmental film festival, radio program and recycled Christmas card sales in 1970.
In 1971, the Ecology Center opened a recycling station at 2050 South Industrial Road in Ann Arbor. In 1982, the Ecology Center merged with Recycle Ann Arbor to provide curbside collection of recyclable paper, glass, cans, oil, and aluminum.
The Ecology Center offers many services in addition to recycling. It strives to increase local awareness of environmental problems through involvement in educational and service programs in homes, in the Ann Arbor Schools, and in community projects. One example is a home energy conservation team that inspects and recommends retrofitting to enhance a home's energy efficiency. The organization also has a hotline that provides information on environmental issues.
Outreach programs such as recycling education and home heat conservation workshops are supported by the Ecology Center's library. In cooperation with the Ann Arbor Public Library, the Ecology Center maintains this community environmental resource center. The center has also been involved in organizing annual Earth Day activities, especially in 1990, the twentieth anniversary of that event.
The Ecology Center is also active in environmental lobbying. For example, in the mid 1970s, the Ecology Center campaigned for a state referendum on returnable bottles. The Center advises on a number of land use plans to prevent urban sprawl in Ann Arbor, as well as policies to control air and water quality, and toxic waste. The center also played an instrumental role in the Right-To-Know and Right-To-Act campaigns of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor is funded by membership fees, business donations, grants, and fundraising events. Two long-standing fundraising events are the annual sale of Christmas cards and the Bike-A-Thon.
A number of different independent organizations, such as Ann Arbor Tomorrow, Citizens' Association for Area Planning, and Project Grow, have been fostered by the Ecology Center. The organization also has a strong affiliation with the Washtenaw Environmental Council.