7th Annual Green Schools Quest Honors Champions for Sustainability in the St. Louis Region

The U.S. Green Building Council–Missouri Gateway Chapter (USGBC-MGC) announced on Friday the winners of its 2019–2020 Green Schools Quest. Like the Clean Air Partnership, the Green Schools Quest is focused on encouraging and inspiring voluntary steps to help improve the environment and air quality in the bi-state area, and we’re pleased to highlight its tremendous impact by recognizing the impressive accomplishments of this year’s winners and participating schools.

This innovative program challenges public and private school students at the pre-K, elementary, middle and high school levels within the St. Louis metropolitan area to devise and implement the most creative, effective and no or low-cost sustainable practices for their schools. With the help of Green Mentors, who are professionals with an interest or expertise in sustainability, participating schools formed a Green Team and had the opportunity to engage in projects fitting their schools’ unique needs and resources. Green Teams then documented their overall impact, such as energy and resource savings or increased biodiversity, and submitted their final project for judging by an impartial panel.

“The Green Schools Quest is a unique way to engage the K-12 schools and the future leaders of our region, and it’s also a great way to involve our members who are really passionate about sustainability and green building and the mission of the organization,” said Emily Andrews, executive director of the USGBC-MGC. “Having that connection has been a lot of fun and seeing what the students come up with is always the most rewarding as they work to create greener, healthier learning environments.”

For the 2019-2020 school year, 2,000 students representing 68 St. Louis-area schools worked on Green Schools Quest projects from October to March. Collectively, the projects implemented by this year’s participants positively impacted more than 45,000 students, faculty and community members. A national panel of judges selected the first, second and third-place winners in the elementary, middle and high school categories. Trophies and cash prizes of $600, $400 and $200 will go to the top three finishers in each category. Winners were also chosen by a local panel of judges for five spotlight awards and $100 cash prize, including Rookie of the Year, Sustainability Champion, Judges’ Choice, Innovation, and Focus of the Year.

In the elementary school category, Crestwood Elementary School in the Lindbergh School District received first place recognition for their project, A Green Wave of Change. With a focus on rolling out education in waves that will help the students, community and school make better choices, students created bulletin boards, PowerPoints and videos that were presented to every classroom and the district’s board of education members to engage them in a recycling program. Rogers Middle School in the Affton School District was awarded first place for their project, RMS Earthletes Make Long-Lasting Change, which established a daily use waste station in the cafeteria, banned single-use plastics being used and sold, and strengthened the existing single-stream recycling system throughout the school. Principia Upper School, located in Town and County, Mo., worked to support students as change agents by introducing them to the UN Sustainable Development Goals through their winning project, the Impact Challenge. The project culminated with an event showcasing the good work done by all and highlighting the top projects from each grade level.

Due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the USGBC-MGC had to cancel its Green Schools Quest awards ceremony, but to publicly recognize all 68 schools that participated, the organization has also created an assortment of video compilations to be released each day this week and remain available to view here.

For a full list of winners and to learn more about the Green Schools Quest and this year’s final projects, visit www.greenschoolsquest.org. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, check out our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Celebrating 50 Years of Earth Day

April 22nd officially marks 50 years of celebrating Earth Day, and in honor of the holiday, now is the perfect opportunity to take action for a “greener” world. While volunteering to pick up trash on the side of the road, collecting recyclables and getting outside to enjoy the warmer spring weather are oftentimes popular Earth Day activities, there’s so much more that we can do to help protect and restore our planet the other 364 days of the year.

Simple, eco-friendly lifestyle changes can go a long way when it comes to saving the earth and helping people all across the St. Louis region breathe easier. Here are some helpful tips to consider for celebrating Earth Day each and every day to keep the air quality in healthy ranges:

  • Shop greener – As quarantine periods wear on, shopping for essential items like groceries, baby products, pet supplies and cleaning agents online is a greener alternative and ideal for staying safe during these unprecedented times. Try consolidating your online orders to one store to reduce excess packaging and fuel consumption from large transport trucks to keep the air clean. When it comes to your household products, replace single-use, disposable items with “green” products that are reusable, sustainably sourced or made of recycled materials.
  • Ditch the plastic bottles – At this very minute, people around the world are buying a million plastic bottles, and most of these bottles will end up in landfills or in the ocean. Not only does the production of plastic water bottles contribute significant amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, their litter lingers for years on end. Instead of buying single-use bottles, consider purchasing a reusable water bottle you can take with you and refill as needed to cut down on unnecessary waste and help improve air quality.
  • Avoid idling your vehicle – Idling engines produce thousands of tons of toxic pollution, including air toxins which are known to cause cancer, respiratory and reproductive effects, birth defects and various other health concerns. For every 10 minutes your engine is off, you’ll help to prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released into our air. Experts also note that 10 minutes of idling a day wastes 27 gallons of fuel a year, thus, choosing not to idle is another great way to save fuel and money!
  • Turn off lights and appliances not in use – Computers, tablets and other electrical devices still use electricity when plugged in, even though they may be idle. Once you wrap up working from home for the day, be sure to power down your computer and unplug any unnecessary electronics. Additionally, if you have to leave the house, do a walk-through to turn off all the lights, as energy production is a key source of air pollution. Doing so will help clean the air by reducing harmful emissions!

Although the current stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements have resulted in the postponement of the St. Louis Earth Day Festival this year, area residents can take their celebrations one step further by participating in a series of virtual events at https://earthday-365.org/, happening now thru April 26.

To learn more about the link between living greener and our air quality, visit our website tips section at www.cleanair-stlouis.com, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Greening Your Spring Cleaning

While spring is in the air and warmer weather we’ve longed for has finally started to roll through the region, the ongoing impact of COVID-19 has required us to practice social distancing and spend some quality time indoors. Despite these current challenges, it’s good to remember that, when it comes to air quality, we can always continue to do our share for cleaner air.

With all this extra down time, there’s no better time than now to break out the mops and brooms, shoo away the cobwebs and tackle annual spring cleaning. By making environmentally conscious choices in the way you clean, you’ll also help make your home (and the planet) a healthier place to live and breathe for all. Here are some helpful tips to consider for greening your spring cleaning with the region’s air quality in mind:

  • Clear out the clutter – Spring cleaning is the perfect time to go through closets and get rid of the things you no longer need or use. Rather than dumping everything into plastic trash bags, take a few extra minutes to dispose of them responsibly and sustainably. Keep items out of overcrowded landfills by asking family and friends if they have use for any of your unwanted items or donate them to charity once the stay-at-home orders have been lifted.
  • Ditch the paper towels – Because they cannot be recycled, an estimated 6 million pounds of paper towels wind up in landfills every year. Consider substituting specially-made, washable cleaning and dusting cloths that are available in all types of fabrics, from cotton to microfiber. Better yet, you can take green cleaning one step further by opting for rags from cut up old clothes, towels or sheets that can be washed and reused any time instead of paper towels to reduce waste and save money on paper products.
  • Make your own all-purpose cleaners – Cleaning and sanitizing high-touch surfaces in our households are a top priority right now, and while you may be using stronger disinfectants on those surfaces, you still have plenty of options to make your own homemade cleaning solutions for areas of lesser concern. Consider creating your own products by mixing a little warm water with either baking soda or white vinegar for the perfect all-purpose cleaner. When replacing cleaning products, don’t just throw the old ones in the trash. If they’re too toxic for your home, they won’t be good for the drain or the landfill either.
  • Reuse and repurpose items around the house – If you’re willing to get creative, the possibilities are endless! For example, an old toothbrush can be used to clean small corners, old socks can be used for dusting, and old towels can even be sewn into a make-shift Swiffer mop cover. You can also reuse newspapers by balling them up and scrubbing the windows with them and sanitize dirty sponges by popping them into the dishwasher – all are steps in the right direction for cleaner air.

It only takes a few small changes to incorporate more sustainable and eco-friendly choices into our spring cleaning routines to help reduce harmful emissions and keep the air we breathe in healthier ranges. For more great tips on how to achieve cleaner air year-round, visit http://cleanair-stlouis.com/air-quality-tips/.

Make cleaner air one of your New Year‘s Resolutions

The arrival of a new year often brings opportunities to change a lifestyle, a business, or even an entire community. If you’re looking to make a change for the better in 2018, consider making conscious changes to your transportation habits, and you could positively impact the region’s air quality and health.

High concentrations of ground-level ozone can cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, and eye and throat irritation. Even in healthy adults, studies have shown that exposure to various levels of ozone pollution can cause decreased lung function. But, children, older adults and those who suffer from lung diseases like emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma are especially vulnerable to ozone pollution. When it comes to minimizing those health impacts, everyone has a role to play. Individuals can make lifestyle changes, and even municipalities and businesses can help improve air quality by changing their policies on and attitudes towards transportation.

As you make your resolutions for the New Year, here are some things you, personally, can do to help improve the air quality.

  • Carpool, vanpool or ride the bus or MetroLink whenever possible.
  • Avoid letting your vehicle idle. Turn off the engine when you’re waiting in your car.
  • When the weather is nice, walk or bike for short trips and to and from lunch.
  • If public transit doesn’t work for you, try ridesharing to and from work and take advantage of We Car if you need to run errands around town.
  • Check your air filters and replace them at least every three months. Clean air filters can improve gas mileage by up to 10% compared to clogged filters.

If you run a business, the following tips can jump start your commitment to clean air in 2018:

  • Help your employees to share the ride by signing up with resources such as RideFinders, which can help them to connect with carpool or vanpool partners, or help employees navigate public transportation by teaming up with Metro and Citizens for Modern Transit.
  • Offer employee passes for public transportation, or convenient parking for those who choose to carpool.
  • Provide bike racks and lockers for employees who bike or walk to work.
  • Create a ‘No Idling’ policy in your parking lots and instead provide 15-minute pickup and drop-off parking spots near the entrance.
  • Offer telecommuting and flex-time, allowing employees to work from home or come in at times that do not coincide with rush hour traffic.
  • Conduct meetings by conference calls and video chats instead of traveling to meet in-person.

By committing to promoting practices that improve the air quality in your community, municipalities can have a huge impact too.

  • Develop and implement a no-idling policy for fleet drivers and city employees, and encourage residents in busy pick-up and drop-off zones to avoid idling.
  • Utilize biodiesel to fuel city trucks, and ensure the tires are properly inflated and air filters are clean.
  • Provide dedicated carpool spaces at city buildings to encourage city employees to rideshare more often.
  • Develop and implement a bike and walk master plan designed to encourage residents to walk or bike more to get around town instead of driving, and install bike racks around the city.
  • Provide city landscaping crews with electric, propane or solar-powered lawn and gardening tools, instead of gas-powered ones.

For more great tips on how we can work together to achieve cleaner air in 2018, visit www.cleanair-stlouis.com/air-quality-tips/, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. And have a happy and healthy New Year!

 

Spotlight On: The City of University City

With sustainability gaining steam as a key goal for St. Louis area municipalities, the Clean Air Partnership continues to use our blog to highlight some of the incredible eco-friendly initiatives underway in several cities across the region. These efforts are not only improving the environment, but are also helping to reduce air pollution in the region. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on the City of University City.

In recent years, University City has been a participant in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge and the recently created Green Cities Challenge. And, the city has made great environmental strides as part of its involvement in both initiatives.

The Green Business Challenge is a joint program of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and the Missouri Botanical Garden that helps businesses of all types and sizes to integrate “Triple Bottom Line” (fiscal, social and environmental) measures into the kinds of daily operations common to every business. Participants identify and adopt strategies that improve financial performance and engage employees in voluntary measures to reduce environmental impacts. In 2015, the Green Cities Challenge was established to give St. Louis area municipalities a new way to get involved in the Green Business Challenge and to provide the cities with opportunities to learn how to incorporate sustainable policies and practice sustainable fundamentals within their local government business operations.

Many of University City’s sustainable efforts have been focused on recycling, storm water management and energy efficiency. The city has implemented a commercial recycling initiative that has grown to include 145 members. The city’s updated recycling deposit center accepts typical items, like cardboard and glass, along with textiles and plastic film. The City’s recycling center has also started using a cardboard compactor, has updated its signage and has begun distributing educational materials to area residents. The city also continues to expand its stormwater management efforts by requiring downspout disconnections to sewers and is helping the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District curb water pollution. University City is one of the 58 St. Louis area municipalities that has agreed to comply with permit requirements for the St. Louis Metropolitan Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). The general permit for small MS4s requires the development and implementation of a formal, written stormwater management program plan.

The city has also worked to replace inefficient lighting, resulting in an energy savings of 100,000 kWh per year. And, to help reduce emissions, the city’s Green Practices Commission is examining ways to enforce “No Idling” policies at area schools, and for University City vehicles.
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 on the sustainable efforts underway in University City, check out the St. Louis Green Business Challenge website at http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com/.

Spotlight On: The City of Maplewood

With sustainability gaining steam as a key goal for St. Louis area municipalities, the Clean Air Partnership continues to use our blog to highlight some of the incredible eco-friendly initiatives underway in several cities across the region. These efforts are not only improving the environment, but are also helping to reduce air pollution in the region. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on the City of Maplewood.
In recent years, Maplewood has been a participant in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge and the recently created Green Cities Challenge. And, the city has made great environmental strides as part of its involvement in both initiatives.

The Green Business Challenge is a joint program of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and the Missouri Botanical Garden that helps businesses of all types and sizes to integrate “Triple Bottom Line” (fiscal, social and environmental) measures into the kinds of daily operations common to every business. Participants identify and adopt strategies that improve financial performance and engage employees in voluntary measures to reduce environmental impacts. In 2015, the Green Cities Challenge was established to give St. Louis area municipalities a new way to get involved in the Green Business Challenge and to provide the cities with the opportunity to learn how to incorporate sustainable policies and practice sustainable fundamentals within their local government business operations.

During 2016, the City of Maplewood has achieved EPA Green Power Community status via solar installations on city buildings and the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits. As a result, residents and businesses are matching 6 percent of the city’s energy use with green energy. Annually, Maplewood is supporting more than 7 million kilowatt-hours of green power, which is equivalent to the electricity used in nearly 700 average American homes. This cut in energy use has an environmental impact that is equal to removing over 1,200 cars from the road for one year, and is helping to improve the quality of the air we breathe.

Earlier sustainable accomplishments made by Maplewood include the establishment of the first Green Dining District in the nation, with 10 community restaurants attaining certification through the St. Louis Green Dining Alliance.

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 on the sustainable efforts underway in Maplewood, check out the St. Louis Green Business Challenge website at http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com/.

Spotlight On: The City of Highland

With sustainability gaining steam as a key goal for St. Louis area municipalities, the Clean Air Partnership continues to use our blog to highlight some of the incredible eco-friendly initiatives underway in several cities across the region. These efforts are not only improving the environment, but also helping to reduce air pollution in the region. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on the City of Highland.

city-of-highland-logo

During the 7th annual Green Business Challenge Awards ceremony, held in early December, the City of Highland received recognition for its many efforts to become more environmentally friendly, which includes the recent introduction of “No Idling” signage in front of city facilities. The idea to create “No Idling” zones was born as part of the City of Highland’s involvement in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge.

The Challenge is a joint program of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and the Missouri Botanical Garden that helps businesses of all types and sizes to integrate “Triple Bottom Line” (fiscal, social and environmental) measures into the kinds of daily operations common to every business. Participants identify and adopt strategies that improve financial performance and engage employees in voluntary measures to reduce environmental impacts. The City of Highland saw “No Idling” zones as a way to reduce emissions and its carbon footprint. Since introducing the zones at city facilities, the City now has plans to extend its efforts to schools and businesses.

Additional municipal accomplishments made by the City of Highland have included the enactment of a leaf-burning ordinance, the establishment of a community recycling policy for curbside recycling and department practices, the institution of a Complete Streets Policy and the installation of LED lighting throughout the community. Highland has also been recognized as a Tree City USA community for 27 consecutive years. Cities achieving Tree City USA status are required to have an ordinance for 2012-arbor-day-012maintaining and enhancing community forests.

In recent months, Highland has also created an opportunity for children to interact with nature through the creation of a mini-ecosystem at the City’s Silver Lake Park. With the support of Madison County, the City of Highland continues to build on its accomplishments to further its work in sustainability and ultimately improve the quality of the air we breathe.
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 on the sustainable efforts underway in Highland, check out the St. Louis Green Business Challenge website at http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com/.

The environmental impact of the holiday season

It’s hard to believe, but another holiday season is upon us. As we decorate our homes, plan celebrations with family and friends and exchange gifts, our impact on the environment isn’t often top of mind. Unfortunately, what’s often considered “the most wonderful time of the year,” isn’t so wonderful for the environment. Consider the following:

  • 8,000 tons of wrapping paper are used during the holidays each year, equating to roughly 50,000 trees.
  • The 2.65 billion holiday cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high.
  • Household waste increases by more than 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.
  • Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons add up to an additional 1 million tons of trash going into landfills each week.
  • On average, food travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate.

These statistics are shocking, but thankfully, there are numerous steps we can all take to celebrate in a greener way this holiday season. Below are some ideas that can reduce environmental impact.

  • Drive less. If each family reduced holiday gasoline consumption by one gallon, or opted to drive 20 miles less, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by one million tons.
  • Reduce energy use by purchasing LED holiday lights. LED bulbs use up to 95% less energy than traditional holiday lighting.
  • Opt for ground shipping for online purchases. Ground shipping uses less fuel than air transport.
  • Recycle wrapping paper. Each ton of mixed paper that is recycled can save the energy equivalent of 185 gallons of gasoline.
  • Avoid accumulating plastic shopping bags by leaving canvas or paper bags in your car to use on shopping trips.
  • Send e-cards or recycled cards.
  • Decorate with natural, biodegradable items like cranberries, popcorn and live flowers and greenery.
  • Look for holiday tree composting drop-off locations in your neighborhood.
  • Cut back on waste by utilizing reusable glassware, flatware, dishware table coverings and napkins.
  • Provide containers for recycling aluminum and glass beverage bottles and cans.
  • Serve organic or locally grown foods and prepare only as much food as needed.

Explore our website for information on ways to live greener year-round and for additional steps you can take to help improve air quality. We also encourage you to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @gatewaycleanair.

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25 Holiday Facts

Spotlight On: The City of St. Peters

With sustainability gaining steam as a key goal for St. Louis area municipalities, the Clean Air Partnership will be using our blog to highlight some of the incredible eco-friendly initiatives underway in several cities across the region that are not only improving the environment, but also helping to reduce air pollution in the region. This month, we’re kicking things off with a spotlight on the City of St. Peters.

 
In 2012, St. Peters became the first municipality to participate in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge. The Challenge is a joint program of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and the Missouri Botanical Garden that helps businesses of all types and sizes to integrate “Triple Bottom Line” (fiscal, social and environmental) measures into the kinds of daily operations common to every business. Participants identify and adopt strategies that improve financial performance and engage employees in voluntary measures to reduce environmental impacts.

 
In 2015, when the program launched a pilot “Green Cities Challenge” in 2015, to address the unique needs of local government business operations, the City of St. Peters engaged in a significant mentoring relationship with the City of St. Charles to help the community achieve its sustainable goals. As part of the mentorship process, the city worked with a menu of basic sustainability policies and practices, including measures defined by OneSTL, the regional plan for sustainable development. Sustainability leaders for St. Peters were able to assist the new St. Charles Green Team as they accomplished their selected Green Cities goals.

 
Participating in the Green Business Challenge at the rigorous Champion level, the City of St. Peters’ achievements included involving Recycling Ambassadors in its “Sunset Fridays” summer concert events. These volunteers educated the public while helping to recycle 151 pounds of cans and bottles. The City also hosted a “Clean Streams Day,” in which volunteers helped clean over 6,400 pounds of litter from area streams, and also implemented a “Shred It and Forget It” initiative, in which residents dropped off over 25,500 pounds of documents for shredding and recycling. Recent sustainable innovations in the City of St. Peters include placing recycling trucks on the roads; enacting a city office junk mail reduction initiative and developing the “No Ifs, Ands or Butts” campaign to encourage individuals to properly dispose of their cigarette butts.

 
In addition to helping reduce waste, the efforts made by the City of St. Peters are having a positive impact on air quality and helping to improve lung health in the region by reducing the emissions created during resources extraction, manufacturing and disposal.

 
Today, the City of St. Peters continues its sustainability commitment though advanced work in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge and as a mentor to both company and municipality Challenge participants. The City’s support for other municipalities, in both Missouri and Illinois, is especially valuable, as it provides them with experience-based insights to assist community leaders in advancing their own sustainable goals.

 
On Dec. 2, the City of St. Peters and other 2016 St. Louis Green Business Challenge participants will be recognized for their efforts as part of the 7th annual Green Business Challenge Awards ceremony. For information on the event, or to learn more about getting your municipality or company involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge/Green Cities 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.

St. Louis publisher educates readers

Over the years, scores of print publications have either downsized or gone out of business, creating severe losses for publishers and reporters. J.B. Lester’s The Healthy Planet magazine, however, continues its reign as the only health and environmental magazine in the Greater St. Louis area. for 18 years.

In 1995, Lester left his post as co-editor and co-publisher at the Webster-Kirkwood Times with the goal of starting a new publication devoted to covering environmental and health issues. A couple years later, Lester managed to get The Healthy Planet off the ground thanks to financial help from a family member. But, as Lester recalls, the first year was a difficult one.

“Because the term ‘green’ was still unconventional at the time, it took us awhile to get our message across,” noted Lester. “But as area residents have continued to gain a greater understanding of what it means to ‘go green,’ we’ve seen the magazine’s success grow steadily over the years.”

Today, The Healthy Planet magazine is available at more than 800 locations in the Greater St. Louis area and its monthly readership has Healthy Planet Logo Newgrown to 90,000. With extensive coverage every month, The Healthy Planet includes sections like “Green & Growing,” “Kids’ Planet” and “Fresh Fare” to educate readers about organic and sustainable gardens, children’s activities that highlight green living and sustainable ways to eat healthy. Other special sections such as the Summer Camp Guide, the Holiday Green Shopping Guide and the Growers & Market Guide connect readers to resources that will help them to maintain a healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle.

“I think every major city needs a magazine like The Healthy Planet because we offer important resources for people who are interested in both improving the quality of their lives and prolonging the life of our planet,” Lester said. “We have made our mark on our community and plan to keep offering what our readers want.”

As a result of Lester’s life-long interest in green and healthy living, he and his wife Niki practice what they preach by incorporating eco-friendly alternatives into every possible aspect of their lives at home and at the office. His family recycles, uses only energy-saving light bulbs, carpools to work often and eats primarily grass-fed, free-range meat. To lessen his carbon footprint, Lester said he has been using an electric lawn mower, a natural gas grill and organic yard and garden practices for years.

Poor air quality is part of what inspires Lester to not only maintain, but also continuously improve his green lifestyle. Asthma and other respiratory illnesses have increased over the years and are directly linked to poor air quality, especially in St. Louis and the Mississippi Valley. And, asthma has played a direct role in spurring Lester’s green lifestyle, because one of his daughters suffers from sports-induced asthma. As a result, Lester said he would like to see more St. Louis area residents doing their part to improve the region’s air quality by using mass transit, bicycling, walking and driving more fuel-efficient, eco-friendly vehicles.

To help his readers easily incorporate long-term, eco-friendly practices into their daily lives, Lester stresses the importance of taking small steps. That’s why each issue of The Healthy Planet is focused on introducing environmentally friendly alternatives to readers, which Lester hopes will spur greener lifestyles overall. Easy steps he promotes include starting a home recycling program, changing out light bulbs and learning more about organic gardening.

“Everyone has a part in the problem, but we can all be a part of the solution,” Lester said. “Our publication offers great information on small steps that individuals can take right now to get the ball rolling.”

To learn more about going green and helping improve the region’s air quality, visit www.cleanair-stlouis.com or call the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest at 314-449-9149. To learn more about The Healthy Planet, visit www.thehealthyplanet.com or call (314) 962-7748.