Make This School Year a Greener One

The summer days are drawing to a close, and many area students are already back in the classroom. While the cooler nights and more pleasant daytime temperatures on the way make it less likely that the quality of our air will be top of mind, the St. Louis area continues to struggle with  ozone and particle pollution, so it’s important to not lose sight of the fact that there are various things we can be doing during the school year to help keep the region’s air clean year-round.

The good news is all of us can play a role in helping to reduce emissions to improve our region’s air quality by practicing greener habits in our daily lives. Now that parents and kids are getting settled into their back-to-school routines, here are some helpful tips to consider for keeping the air clean:

  • Walk, bike or take public transit when possible: When weather conditions are favorable, kids that live close to school can replace car trips with walking, bicycling or using public transit to help reduce air pollution. Fewer vehicles on the roads result in less pollution in the air.
  • Nix bottled water: Did you know that up to 80 percent of water bottles in the United States never get recycled? Purchase refillable water bottles that you can fill up at any water fountain instead of throwing away a new bottle. This will help cut back on pollution caused from waste that ends up in landfills, making our air cleaner one less bottle at a time.
  • Limit waste at lunch: When packing a lunch for school, use sandwich containers rather than plastic baggies and consider investing in a reusable, insulated lunch box instead of brown bags that may also just get thrown in the trash.
  • Go paperless: Take down notes from class electronically to save money and eliminate paper waste to save a significant amount of energy that leads to cleaner air. Printing double-sided and using an online calendar or scheduler to keep assignments organized are also great ways to reduce paper consumption!
  • Power down: Computers, tablets and many other electrical devices still use electricity when plugged in, even though they may be idle. When you are not using your electronic device, turn it off and unplug the device because energy production is a key source of air pollution. Doing so will help clean the air by reducing harmful emissions.

The Clean Air Partnership is proud to play a role in raising awareness about all the ways we can reduce emissions. To access a wealth of air quality information and tips designed to help area residents do their share for cleaner air, parents and kids are encouraged to visit the tips section of our  website, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter.