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.


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

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.


25 Holiday Facts