Make Eco-Friendly Choices the New Normal for Halloween

The end of the month is creeping closer and closer, and while the spookiest time of year can also be a real fright-fest for the environment, there’s another monster lurking this Halloween. Due to the ongoing effects of the coronavirus, traditional trick-or-treating and Halloween parties may have a different look this year, but that doesn’t mean the holiday has to be canceled all-together.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways families can have fun while avoiding the scare of being exposed to or spreading the virus, and they involve activities that will also largely benefit the region’s air quality. Here are some helpful tips to consider for safely greening those spooky festivities, all while keeping your little ghouls and goblins happy this Halloween:

  • Host a Virtual Costume Party or Parade – Halloween during a global pandemic poses a great opportunity to get creative and maybe even invent some new traditions. Use video chats for online parties with family and friends, participate in a virtual costume contest, play games or pick a spooktacular movie to watch at the same time online. Outdoor costume parades are another option that can allow for everyone to stay at least six feet apart and wear face coverings. A family scavenger hunt for treats in your home or yard can also be a fun alternative if trick-or treating isn’t available in your neighborhood.

  • Create Your Own Homemade Costumes – Store-bought costumes are often made up of nonrecyclable, petro-chemical based plastic and synthetic fibers that release harmful toxins in their creation and breakdown. With a little creativity, left over boxes, paper bags, fabric and other items around the house can be upcycled into costumes at little or no cost and make for a much more air quality-friendly option. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out Pinterest for countless ideas for turning different materials into homemade costumes that the planet and your wallet will thank you for!
  • Choose Eco-Friendly Decorations — Make a dent in the waste this Halloween by creating your own homemade decorations with recycled household items. Solar-powered or LED lights will also help to conserve energy, as will refraining from using inflatable, ghostly creatures that require running electricity to operate. Doing so will help save on electricity costs and cut back on emissions to help clean the air.
  • Green Up Your Halloween Pumpkins – Don’t let your jack-o’-lantern end up in a landfill once Halloween is over. Remember to compost your pumpkins to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that result from rotting in landfills. Once you’ve carved your pumpkin, save the pulp from inside for pies, muffins, soup and other tasty recipes, as well as the seeds that make for a sustainable fall snack when roasted with a bit of oil and salt.

Do your share for cleaner air with the health of the community in mind this Halloween by taking proper precautions and incorporating sustainability into your favorite celebrations. To learn more about the link between living greener and our air quality, visit the tips section of our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: The City of Wentzville

While the recent drop in temperature means we can all look forward to breathing a little easier over the next several months, the importance of keeping the region’s air clean still remains high. This fall, the Clean Air Partnership is pleased to continue highlighting local businesses and municipalities that are working to make sustainability a top priority to help people all across the area breathe easier.

With the charming characteristics of a small town but all of the amenities of a dynamic suburban environment, the City of Wentzville continues to build a better future for its constituents with new residential and commercial growth. As an active participant in the Green Cities Challenge, Wentzville has also further solidified its commitment to incorporating sustainability measures into their everyday operational practices. In 2019, the city received an Award of Achievement for advancing their green efforts by implementing a sustainability policy and practicing fundamentals, including addressing measures defined by OneSTL, the regional plan for sustainable development.

Among their impressive green innovations to receive recognition in the 2019 Challenge was the exponential growth of its Green Team, which established a new mission statement to focus on educating and supporting the community in taking action to practice more sustainable habits. Wentzville’s Green Team sponsored the 2nd Annual Zero-Waste Luncheon for 275 city staff members, resulting in 72 lbs. of material composted. All of the cans, cups and food containers were either recycled, reused or composted, leaving behind only the gloves used to handle food to throw away. Green Team members also served as Recycling Ambassadors to educate city employees on recycling “do’s and don’ts” to reduce office contamination. Collectively, these initiatives and the employees’ hard work contributed less waste in our landfills, which is a win for cleaner air in the region!

Additionally, Wentzville created a “Cans for Change” program across four city buildings that collected more than 380 lbs. of aluminum cans to be recycled and help fund various Green Team initiatives. The city also hosted several green presentations and Lunch-and-Learn events for city staff on a wide-range of sustainability topics.

To further reduce environmental impact, Wentzville enhanced the importance of curbside recycling. This effort virtually eliminated contamination from 14,000 homes. Other noteworthy recycling innovations include multiple electronics recycling and shredding events, which resulted in 82,000 lbs. of e-waste diverted from the landfill.

For additional information about the ongoing sustainable efforts by the City of Wentzville and how your municipality can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge/Green Cities Challenge, subscribe to their bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: World Wide Technology, Inc.

As a leader in technology solutions with its global headquarters located right here in St. Louis, World Wide Technology, Inc. is making massive strides for cleaner air in the region with a commitment to preserve the environment by building a better, cleaner future.

A proud supporter and fifth-year participant in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, WWT received the Star Circle of Excellence Achievement Award and secured the second place title at the Champion Level in 2019. Challenge Champion companies are those that completed work with the Leader scorecard in past years and commit to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies within their organization. The scorecard guides advanced efforts such as completing a greenhouse gas inventory, reducing energy use by at least 25%, and striving toward a 75% or greater waste diversion rate.

Among WWT’s impressive accomplishments to receive recognition in the 2019 Challenge was the establishment of new Green Teams, both nationally and internationally, to update all members on local initiatives and brainstorm ideas for events to promote sustainability. WWT also implemented sub-committees to focus on green education for employees and rolling out a new recycling center for the St. Louis location.

WWT introduced a number of new partnerships to help work towards sustainability, including one with Goby, Inc. to validate and improve the accuracy of their energy and water usage. The company also partnered with Bayer to host the third annual Greenwood Cemetery Clean-Up where volunteers cleaned and maintained the historic cemetery. Another collaboration with Adonis Recycling collected more than 12,800 pounds of employee E-waste, which also helped to improve the region’s air quality!

To further reduce environmental impact, WWT expanded their composting program to include coffee grounds, coffee stirrers, coffee filters, tea bags and hot cup sleeves in all of the company’s St. Louis offices. Digital Media Signage Boards, flyers and posters were also put on display to educate WWT’s employees about the importance of composting. Since last July alone, WWT composted more than 7,544 pounds of waste, with the total amount of waste composted exceeding four tons. Other green activities included a series of “Lunch and Learns” to educate employees about recycling and sustainable initiatives both at home and in the workplace, featuring St. Louis Composting, Forest Park Forever and TREX.

Additionally, WWT hosted an Earth Day Vendor Fair and America Recycles Day Event to promote volunteer opportunities and environmental education for all employees. The company also introduced a “Mug Shots” campaign where employees posted selfies with their favorite mugs to encourage the use of reusable mugs instead of disposable ones.

The Clean Air Partnership is pleased to recognize the efforts of businesses such as World Wide Technology, Inc., that continue to take action for cleaner air by channeling their time and energy towards practicing sustainability. For additional information on how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: The City of University City

As temperatures begin to cool off with autumn’s arrival just days away, the importance of keeping the region’s air clean still remains high. This fall, the Clean Air Partnership will continue to show appreciation for local organizations and municipalities that are stepping up to take action for cleaner air by working towards a more sustainable future, benefiting those who live and work in their communities.

University City, Mo., is one of the oldest suburbs in the St. Louis metropolitan area and has been a proud participant of the St. Louis Green Cities Challenge for several consecutive years. Known for its rich history dating back to the late 1800’s and named after the community’s proximity to Washington University, the city has become a center of learning and culture, as well as an area of prosperous commercial activity. Through participation in the Green Cities Challenge, Univeristy City ensures that consistent standards are applied to its planned economic development projects, which is essential as they continue to redevelop existing spaces and create new ones within the community.

Among their impressive green innovations to receive recognition in the 2019 Challenge was a major campaign for recycling anti-contamination featuring custodian training, staff education, mass digital information coverage and audits of residential carts. These initiatives have all contributed to lower rates of contamination, which is also a win for the region’s air quality! Prior to 2008, University City processed its own recyclables and sold the sorted materials to vendors. With a recent grant from the Solid Waste Management District, an evaluation of the city’s former Materials Recovery Facility assessed feasibility to renovate the space with new recycling equipment and process curbside recycling again.

During the Challenge, University City added a much-needed city-staff Green Team to lead interdepartmental sustainability. The Green Team’s first line of work included a survey and audit of each department to identify opportunities to reduce waste and improve collaboration. This year, the city set goals for installing water bottle fill stations in city buildings, supporting Earth Day related events and furthering education and outreach for city departments on recycling.

To further reduce environmental impact, University City signed the Mayors for Solar Energy commitment that is helping city leaders take concrete steps toward brighter, healthier futures. This pledge includes the endorsement of solar energy for local residents, easing the permit process and leading by example. University City is also a part of the regional Grow Solar St. Louis program, which promotes education and group purchasing discounts for residential solar power.

Another noteworthy accomplishment of University City was the purchase of five electric vehicles for use by property inspectors. This resulted from a financial analysis that showed the long-term payback would surpass the purchase of gasoline or hybrid vehicles. The city anticipates expanding the fleet if the electric vehicles are successful in saving money and reducing overall emissions.

For additional information about the ongoing sustainable efforts by University City and how your municipality can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge/Green Cities Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Alternative Transportation Options Available in the Region to Celebrate Car-Free Day

While Car-Free Day celebrations will have a bit of a different look this year due to social distancing and mask requirements, people are still encouraged to be less dependent on their vehicles and try alternatives such as walking, biking, utilizing public transit or maybe even carpooling with other household members. Though our cars are convenient and offer a number of benefits, they also contribute a dangerous amount of pollution. Having a day off from driving is highly recommended to raise awareness about these concerns and help reduce harmful emissions.

Vehicle exhaust produces thousands of tons of toxic pollution, including nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds that contribute to the formation of ozone smog and particulate matter, which makes it especially hard for sensitive populations to breathe. These factors led to September 22 being designated Car-Free Day each year with the goal to take heat off the planet and our lungs by alerting individuals of the impact traffic has on quality of life in the region. The day is also designed to inspire lasting change for our communities to live more sustainably year-round, not just on special occasions.

In the St. Louis region, the following options are available for area residents to ditch the keys and be car-free to help take vehicles off area roads and reduce the emissions that lead to poor air quality:

  • MetroTransit – The region’s public transit system offers great alternatives for the work commute or an option to hopping in your car for short trips. Serving St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Clair County, Ill., Metro Transit allows riders to 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. Those who live in Madison County, Illinois will find Madison County Transit to be another great alternative. Both have various measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep riders and operators safe.
  • Ridesharing – This year as COVID-19 persists, we recommend those considering carpooling limit their pool to other members of the same household who may be able to ride together. But looking to the future when carpooling with co-workers or others commuting to the same general area is once again safe, RideFinders offers a free carpool and vanpool ride matching service. Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft match drivers of private vehicles to those seeking transportation, too.
  • Walk or Bike – Walking and biking are excellent ways to burn calories instead of burning gas. Not only do they serve as eco-friendly ways to run errands and get around town when weather conditions are favorable, but experts also note that if just 1% of those who drive chose to walk or bike regularly instead, automobile emissions would fall 2-4%.
  • Telecommute – The power of telecommuting to reduce auto emissions was clear across the country and around the world earlier this year as stay-at-home orders led to much lighter traffic and cleaner air in countless locations. As the region continues to open back up for business and traffic ramps back up, so does the potential for increased emissions that contribute to ozone formation. For those that have the ability to work from home, continuing to telecommute is encouraged.

You can do your share for cleaner air by taking the pledge to be car-free on September 22 and beyond to help St. Louisans breathe easier! For a host of additional tips on how to achieve cleaner air all year long, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: Ameren Missouri

The Ameren name may be top of mind as we give thanks for air conditioning during the lingering heat of summer, but you might also be interested to learn about their outstanding commitment to keep pace with future energy needs and bringing renewable energy to the region.

Ameren Missouri is part of St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation and has provided electric and gas service for more than 100 years.  As a company that is proud to serve, support and invest in the communities they call home, they also value the importance of balancing the needs of our environment, customers and economy. From preventing and controlling pollution, reducing greenhouse gases and creating renewable energy initiatives to developing innovative technologies that help the company operate cleanly, Ameren Missouri is dedicated to building a legacy of environmental stewardship.

As a proud participant of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, Ameren Missouri earned the Achievement Award in the Star Circle of Excellence and the first place title at the Champion Level in 2019. To achieve the title of Challenge Champion, businesses must have completed work with the Leader scorecard in past years and commit to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies, such completing a greenhouse gas inventory, reducing energy use by at least 25% and striving towards a 75% or greater waste diversion rate.

Through partnerships with various non-profits, schools and institutions, Ameren has spread solar power generation across the state of Missouri. As part of the Neighborhood Solar Program, the company has committed to installing solar generation facilities in available open spaces at no cost to their partners. For customers who want to take part in solar generation without installing equipment at their own home, Ameren is offering a simple solution to serve customers clean, renewable energy through the Ameren Missouri Lambert Community Solar Center, which is the first of its kind in the Community Solar program. Their effort to promote renewable energy doesn’t stop there, as Ameren Missouri recently launched a new program to bring electric vehicle charging stations along state highways, expecting to open 11 new charging stations by the end of the year.

Among Ameren Missouri’s impressive accomplishments to receive recognition in the 2019 Challenge is the establishment of an official biodiversity policy to aid in conserving natural habitat and native species in the regions they serve. Under this policy, the company strives to reduce, minimize or avoid impacts on biodiversity as they develop infrastructure and conduct operations, which is also beneficial to our air quality! Furthermore, Ameren’s Climate Risk Report – Building a Cleaner Energy Future takes a comprehensive look at the steps the company is taking to meet its obligation to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy in an environmentally responsible manner to its customers and communities they serve while effectively balancing climate-related risks.

The Clean Air Partnership is pleased to recognize the efforts of businesses such as Ameren Missouri that continue to take action for cleaner air by channeling their time and energy towards practicing sustainability. For additional information on how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to their bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com/. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: Granite City

With the region continuing to experience sizzling summer temperatures and the importance of keeping the region’s air clean at an all-time high, the Clean Air Partnership is showing appreciation for local organizations and municipalities that are stepping up for the environment and the region’s air quality in a big way. This month, we are pleased to shine a spotlight on Granite City, Ill., for their ongoing sustainable efforts and tremendous work to reduce their carbon footprint.

Founded in 1896 and known for its rich and varied history, Granite City has become a prime location for industrial growth due to its central location and access to the Mississippi River. As a proud participant of the Green Cities Challenge, a program providing local municipalities with the opportunity to learn how to incorporate sustainable policies and practice sustainable fundamentals within their local government business operations, the city continues to build a more sustainable community, both now and for future generations. It’s all part of their effort to achieve the goals set forth by their Sustainability Plan.

Among Granite City’s impressive accomplishments to receive recognition in the 2019 Challenge is hosting two Grow Solar Metro-East power hours, which informed property and small business owners throughout Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties about solar power opportunities and how to pool their buying to secure discounts for solar technology in an effort to Solarize the Metro East.

Furthermore, the city conducted a greenhouse gas inventory and installed LED lights at City Hall, the police station, three fire stations and the Port Authority District to do their share for cleaner air by reducing harmful emissions. LED lights are up to 80% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, with around 95% of the energy converted into light, wasting only 5% of energy in the form of heat.

Additionally, the city converted its Ozone Garden into a Native Pollinator Garden, designating it as a Monarch Waystation to create educational outreach programs and add to the current native plantings. The city also received a grant through the Heartlands Conservancy to identify and evaluate existing trees in selected areas and provide recommendations for new plantings to help keep the air clean.

Communication with area residents played an important part in Granite City’s journey to sustainability. Through a “Listen, Lead, Share” event hosted by the city, local residents were able to share their thoughts and views on improving the quality of life for community members as ambassadors of sustainability and offer legislators ideas for shaping Illinois policies on Clean Energy Jobs. In order to better communicate the city’s green initiatives to members of the community, the Cool Cities Committee also revamped its website, providing quick and easy access to various resources promoting clean energy solutions within Granite City and the surrounding area, as well as sustainable alternatives that benefit the environment.

To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. For more information about the ongoing sustainable efforts by Granite City and how your municipality can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business/Green Cities Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com.

Turn the Key on Vehicle Idling for a Healthier School Environment

While many students across the region will experience virtual learning this fall due to concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, thousands of area schoolchildren are back in the classroom or soon will be. Though the start of the upcoming school year comes with many unanswered questions, one thing we know for certain is that idling engines are one of the main contributors to air pollution, with schools across the nation being identified as hot spots for unhealthy air.

Each year, idling engines produce thousands of tons of toxic pollution, including nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds that are found in vehicle exhaust and contribute to the formation of ozone smog and particulate matter. Monitoring at schools has shown elevated levels of benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other harmful air toxins during the early morning and late afternoon hours, coinciding with parents picking up and dropping off their children. Therefore, it’s especially important to remember to avoid vehicle idling in school zones as children with developing lungs are more susceptible to air pollution, which poses a greater risk for acquiring asthma, respiratory problems and other adverse health effects.

You might also be surprised to learn that:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Energy, eliminating personal vehicle idling would be equivalent to taking 5 million vehicles off the road.
  • Idling for longer than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your engine.
  • Two minutes of idling uses that same amount of fuel as driving one mile.
  • Every gallon of gas wasted produces over 20 pounds of air pollution.
  • Idling vehicles emit 20 times more pollution than a car traveling at 30 mph.
  • Many buildings have fresh air intake systems to pull outdoor air into the indoor environment. If vehicles are idling alongside or near the building, indoor air can become polluted with exhaust.

In an effort to curb the amount of vehicle idling in the St. Louis metropolitan region, the Clean Air Partnership’s “Turn Your Key, Be Idle-Free” campaign helps encourage area businesses, schools, governmental entities and other organizations to implement No Idling Policies and post No Idling signs, demonstrating their continued commitment to helping our community “Be Idle-Free.” The Partnership also provides customized bookmarks and rack cards at no charge for organizations to put on display for informational purposes.

If you represent a business, government entity, school or other organization, consider engaging your constituents in making the pledge to “Turn Your Key and Be Idle-Free” by placing no-idling signs in your parking lots, near bus and carpool lanes, passenger drop-off lanes, delivery areas or any other location where idling is an issue. By working together, we can help eliminate unnecessary idling to improve overall lung health in the region!

To request a no-idling sign, contact Susannah Fuchs of the Clean Air Partnership at 314-449-9149, or via email at Susannah.Fuchs@lung.org. For more information on other anti-idling initiatives and additional steps you can take to do your share for cleaner air, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @gatewaycleanair.

Five Reasons You Should Care About Air Pollution

Even as concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic remain top of mind, there is no doubt that air pollution is also a global public health emergency to be conscious of during the remaining weeks of summer when the potential for poor air quality conditions is higher. In recent weeks, the St. Louis metro area has seen its fair share of scorching temperatures and a related increase in the number of days when the air quality has been in unhealthy ranges, particularly for those sensitive populations who are more vulnerable to ozone pollution.

While ozone is not visible to the naked eye, the fact that it can negatively affect one’s health is crystal clear; and those effects can be from both short-term and long-term exposure to ozone pollution. With that in mind, here are five important things to consider when it comes to air pollution:

  1. Children, older adults and those with existing lung conditions are most at risk. Children and the elderly with developing or weakened immune systems are at greater risk from breathing in polluted air. According to the American Lung Association’s 2020 State of the Air report, nearly 22 million adults age 65 and over and 34.2 million children under age 18 live in counties that received an “F” grade for at least one pollutant. Likewise, more than 2.8 million seniors and 5 million children live in counties failing all three tests.
  2. Nearly five in ten people live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone pollution. Heat and sunlight combined with hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides emitted by automobiles, smokestacks and other sources react and form a dangerous ground-level layer known as ozone (smog) that is harmful for everyone to breathe. A shocking 150 million Americans live in 257 counties that are breathing in this unhealthy air. Here in St. Louis, we ranked 28th in the nation overall for most ozone-polluted cities.
  3. Where you live matters. Studies show that many different pollutants along busy highways may be higher than in the community as a whole, increasing the risk of harm to people who live or work near busy roads. Exposure to traffic pollution can cause asthma attacks in children and a wide range of other effects including poor cognition, impaired lung function, increased risk for dementia as an adult and even premature death.
  4. Air pollution and poverty go hand in hand. Growing evidence shows that people who have low incomes may face higher risk from air pollution. For example, pollution sources tend to be located near disadvantaged communities, increasing exposure to harmful pollutants. More than 18.7 million people in the U.S. with incomes meeting the federal poverty definition live in counties that received an “F” grade for at least one pollutant.
  5. You can take action for cleaner air. With the risks from airborne pollution being so great, the Clean Air Partnership encourages area residents to continue their efforts to take voluntary steps to reduce emissions as those actions play a critical role in improving air quality conditions. Walking and biking instead of using a vehicle for short trips, telecommuting, avoiding vehicle idling, as well as carpooling and taking transit once it is again safe to do so can all greatly impact the amount of ozone-forming emissions generated on any given day.

The more you know about the air you breathe, the bigger the difference you can make to help people across the St. Louis region breathe easier. To learn more about health effects of exposure to air pollution and actions you can take to reduce emissions, visit our website at www.cleanair-stlouis.com, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter.

Spotlight On: Meridian Village – Lutheran Senior Services

Even in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, various local businesses, municipalities and individuals across the St. Louis metropolitan area are working hard to become better stewards of the environment, and the Clean Air Partnership is recognizing those that continue to pave the way for a more sustainable future. This month, we are delighted to shine a spotlight on Meridian Village-Lutheran Senior Services for their noteworthy green achievements and innovations that are helping clear the air in the region.

Meridian Village, a vibrant senior living community located in Glen Carbon, Ill., focuses on an approach that puts people first. This guiding principle drives the organization to help every resident live a life free of worry and full of opportunity. As a proud participant of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, Meridian Village continues to set the standard for senior living facilities going green and taking action to reduce environmental impact. During the 2019 Challenge, the organization received the Star Circle of Excellence Achievement Award and secured the third place title at the Leader Level – Owner Category.

With a commitment to make sustainability the core of their community culture, Meridian Village formed a Green Team comprised of residents and the Staff Director of Operations to assess and address residents’ sustainability interests and needs. The team developed materials and staffed collection stations to educate employees and fellow residents about plastic bag recycling and reducing contamination in the single stream. Other sustainability learning opportunities included guest presentations on recycling and carpooling from the EarthWays Center and RideFinders, an ENERGY STAR webinar viewing, and various field trips to the Missouri Botanical Garden and Watershed Nature Center for an up close and personal educational experience.

To further reduce environmental impact, the organization implemented special recycling support services, including an outreach program to evaluate recycling efforts and educate participants individually, as well as a “homebound pickup” service for physically disabled residents who still wish to participate. Group travel on company vehicles has also been an efficient option for both human energy and fuel use, including bus shuttles to grocery and other shopping locations, resident outings and special events.

Additionally, Meridian Village consulted with Heartlands Conservancy about developing a pollinator garden to attract a variety of bees and help flowering native plants grow, which also positively impacts our air quality!

Other impressive innovations include controlling light-spill from the property and a light/sleep hygiene project completed last year that allowed light dimming at the facility at night. This not only encourages better sleep patterns for residents, but also reduces energy usage to help keep the air quality in healthy ranges.

For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by Meridian Village-Lutheran Senior Services and how other organizations can get involved in the Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.