Summer Hacks to help Clean the Air

The season of summer barbecues, vacations and days spent poolside is in full swing, but the hotter temperatures that make those activities such fun can also lead to an increased risk of poor air quality conditions. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a list of easy summer hacks to help reduce overall emissions and improve air quality:
  • Go old-fashioned and use a clothesline to finish up the laundry process. The scorching heat acts as a natural drying machine for clothes, reducing energy that would have been used from an actual dryer. Less energy used means reduced emissions and better air quality.
  • If you’re headed out on a summer vacation and find it necessary to rent a car, opt for a hybrid or flex-fuel vehicle. Every gallon of gas saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, reducing emissions to keep the air clean.
  • Hosting a summer barbecue? Make sure to use a gas barbecue grill instead of a charcoal grill. Charcoal grills release about twice as much carbon dioxide per hour as gas grills do. Using a gas barbecue grill this summer is a step in the right direction for cleaner air.
  • Use a reusable water bottle instead of multiple plastic bottles to keep hydrated in the grueling summer heat. A reusable water bottle will reduce waste outputs and less in landfills is better for cleaner air.
  • Avoid using a gas-powered lawn mower. In summer, grass seems to grow quicker than ever, but using a gas-powered lawn mower for one hour is equal to emissions released when driving a new car for 200 miles. If you must use a gas-powered lawn mower, make sure to mow before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. to avoid peak ozone formation hours.
  • If you’re a pool owner, use a pool cover whenever it is not in use. Pool covers provide insulation, reducing the amount of energy needed to keep the pool heated and warm if you want to extend its use into the late summer or early fall.
By making simple changes this summer, you can do your part to help reduce emissions and promote better air quality. For more great tips on how we can work together to achieve cleaner air this summer and year round, visit http://cleanair-stlouis.com/air-quality-tips .

Many Options Available to Help Reduce Auto Emissions

Now that the prime of summer has reached us, the importance of keeping the region’s air clean is at an all-time high. The Clean Air Partnership, along with several other organizations, helps play a significant role in raising awareness about all the ways people in the St. Louis region can reduce emissions to help keep the air quality in healthy ranges. With transportation being one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, much of the focus is on communicating the many benefits of alternative transportation options, such as transit use or carpooling, or walking or riding a bike when air quality conditions are good.

Thankfully there are plenty of resources available to help members of the St. Louis community take voluntary steps that can improve the quality of the air we breathe and improve our health overall. Area residents are encouraged to check out the following:

    • The region’s public transit system is designed so riders can walk to a nearby stop, or park and take a train or bus, or a combination of the two, to get where they’re going – safely, comfortably and conveniently.  (metrostlouis.org or www.mct.org)
    • Citizens for Modern Transit offers a Guaranteed Ride Home program as an incentive for commuters that allows employees to take transit/bicycle while providing them a “safety net” – an assurance they can get home and not be left at work if a situation arises. (www.cmt-stl.org)
    • RideFinders provides free carpool and vanpool ride-matching services for commuters in the St. Louis region to save money, reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. They also offer a version of the Guaranteed Ride Home program! (www.ridefinders.org)
    • Don’t let worry about potentially needing a car during the day derail plans to share the ride. Consider carsharing opportunities to get to and from midday errands and meetings when needed. Visit www.enterprisecarshare.com for more information.
    • Visit gatewayguide.com or use MoDOT’s 511 travel information number to get real-time traffic information and use it to better plan your route to avoid traffic tie-ups and construction zones.
    • LimeBike and Ofo are bike-sharing companies that offer a great alternative to hopping in your car for short trips. Users download one of the smartphone apps to find a bike nearby. When they get to the bike, they can enter a code to unlock it via their phone, pedal where they need to go, lock it up and leave it for the next user. (http://www.stlbikeshare.org)
    • Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft match drivers of private vehicles to those seeking transportation and are a great option for group outings to eliminate the use of multiple vehicles.

    For more information and additional tips to clean the air, visit www.cleanair-stlouis.com, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter.

MoDOT – Guiding the Region to Cleaner Air

As the Clean Air Partnership works to encourage activities that reduce emissions, we continue to spotlight organizations in the St. Louis region that share our passion. With transportation being one of the largest contributors to air pollution, the efforts carried out by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) are crucial in championing clean air.

MoDOT oversees a total of 33,856 miles of roadway throughout the state and, while commuting by automobile is necessary for many, MoDOT recognizes the importance of keeping congestion-related emissions at a minimum.  Considering idling vehicles emit 20 times more pollution than a car traveling 30 miles per hour, alleviating congestion that causes stop-and-go traffic is key in promoting cleaner air.

Here is a look at several of the initiatives MoDOT has implemented to help keep traffic flowing, decrease emissions and clear the region’s air:

 

  • Gateway Guide – This initiative combines several tools to provide motorists with real-time traffic updates. Traffic sensors alongside the road provide information on upcoming traffic speeds and volumes. MoDOT utilizes over 100 Dynamic Message Signs across the state which are permanent message boards located along state highways used to broadcast information regarding travel times, interstate closures, vehicle crashes and congestion. The @StLouisTraffic Twitter feed shares real-time information on closed lanes and roads. Closed-circuit cameras positioned throughout the region also provide real-time footage of area highways. These cameras provide video to help direct emergency response forces to quickly and safely address incidents. More importantly, the camera footage is streamed on Gateway Guide. MoDOT’s intent is that motorists will use this information to take alternate routes when traffic is heavy. By shifting traffic flow in various directions, congestion can be alleviated or avoided, ultimately reducing vehicle emissions.

  • Ozone Information – During the ozone forecasting season, MoDOT operates eight portable message boards alongside roadways in the St. Louis region. These, along with the Dynamic Message Signs, present the daily ozone forecast and often provide motorists with air-friendly tips. For example, when the air quality is poor, the message board not only notifies motorists of the red state of the air, but it might also encourage motorists to avoid filling up with gasoline until after 7 p.m., to help prevent the development of ground-level ozone. These boards have the potential to reach more than half a million travelers in just one day and encourage the community to take part in activities that keep the air cleaner.

 

  • Modification of Daily and Internal Operations – When the air quality is predicted to be poor, MoDOT works especially hard to alleviate congestion. This means halting routine maintenance operations on state highways that might create congestion and vehicle idling when the air quality is red.  MoDOT also encourages their staff to use alternative forms of transportation and has a carpooling program in place for employees to team up to share the ride. These modifications further help to reduce pollution and improve the quality of the air we breathe.

For more information about MoDOT and their work, check out their website at www.modot.org.  And keep an eye on our blog for a future spotlight on the Illinois Department of Transportation to learn about their commitment to cleaner air.