Committing to Clear the Air in 2020

As 2019 comes to an end, it’s easy to think about all the big changes ahead with the mindset of “new year, new me.” While some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions include hitting the gym, taking a chance on a new career or putting a hold on unnecessary spending frenzies, the dawning of a new year and new decade is also the perfect time to think about adding environmental goals to the list to help positively impact the region’s air quality.

Making the conscious choice to go green in 2020 and resolving to adopt some eco-friendly actions will result in multiple positive changes to your wallet, your health and the planet. You might even be surprised to learn how truly easy it can be to incorporate sustainability into your everyday routine. If you’re unsure where to begin, here are a few ideas to help jump-start planning your resolutions for the upcoming year:

  • Walk, Bike, Rideshare or Take Metro – Walking and biking eliminate harmful emissions entirely, and taking public transit is much more energy efficient than driving your own car. Thankfully, the region’s public transit system and ridesharing services are designed to eliminate the use of multiple vehicles on the road and offer great alternatives for the work commute or an option to hopping in your car for short trips. Any steps you can take to reduce your solo commuting by walking, biking, sharing the ride or taking public transportation will help individuals all across the St. Louis region breathe easier in 2020!
  • Drink from a Reusable Water Bottle – The statistics on styrofoam and plastic water bottles alone are highly alarming. 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 when you’re out and about, consider buying a reusable water bottle you can take with you and refill as needed to cut down on unnecessary waste and help improve air quality.
  • Green Your Home – When it’s time to replace your appliances, go with ones that are Energy Star® rated to maximize efficiency. Switch out your incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, put timers on your lights to avoid unnecessary electricity use, and invest in some smart power strips. While reducing and reusing are the most effective ways to save money and natural resources, recycling is another important piece of greening your home by keeping waste out of landfills and turning glass, paper, plastic and other items into new materials. Set up separate recycling bins in your home so it is easy for all family members to participate and consider purchasing recycled products to help clean the air.
  • Go Paperless When Possible – Because we live in a digital world, there are many places where you can opt out of paper — whether it’s your credit card bill or receipts at your favorite store. If given the option, sign up for online banking or choose email versions of receipts when shopping. Cutting back on your paper consumption not only helps save trees, but also cuts back on air pollution and water consumption associated with producing and transporting paper.

For more great tips on how we can work together to achieve cleaner air in 2020, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. Have a happy and healthy New Year!

A Green Holiday is the Gift That Keeps on Giving

The next wave of holidays is right around the corner, and although we recognize this to be a wonderful time of the year, it’s also considered the most wasteful. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day alone, an added one million tons of waste will head to landfills each week.

While that may come as a shock, there are a variety of ways to combat unnecessary waste and help keep the holiday spirit alive. The more people that work to save energy and resources during the holiday season, the bigger the impact that can be made. Here are some tips to keep in mind for incorporating sustainability into those treasured holiday traditions:

  • Choose Your Tree Wisely – While it’s not the most traditional option, buying an artificial tree that can be used for years to come is an energy efficient choice. If this option is unalluring and you choose to buy a real tree, opt for a living one that can be planted outside or kept as a houseplant after the holidays. If you don’t choose artificial or a tree to plant in your yard, once the holidays wrap up, dispose of your tree at a chipping facility or look for holiday tree composting drop-off locations in your neighborhood to do your share for cleaner air.
  • Green Your Holiday Dinner Table – Whether you’re entertaining the entire extended family for the holidays or just a few close relatives, sourcing as many of your ingredients as possible locally helps to cut down on emissions produced by large transport trucks. The less your produce and supplies have to travel, the less waste is produced, and the smaller the environmental impact. Also, consider swapping out disposable plates, cups, napkins and silverware for your favorite set of dishes this year instead.
  • Switch to Online or Recycled Greeting Cards – Take a greener approach to sending out season’s greetings to friends and family this year. Instead of paper cards, consider using e-cards or recycled paper cards to spread holiday cheer. E-cards are the optimal choice not only because there’s no paper needed, but also because there’s no delivery vehicle involved that contributes to harmful emissions. Reusing the fronts of old cards as holiday postcards or gift tags is another great way to help improve air quality.
  • Gift Greener – Since nearly 35% of Americans have an unused Christmas present collecting dust in their closet, consider giving the gift of an experience to loved ones this holiday season. In doing so, oftentimes you’ll also be supporting the local community by gifting items like tickets to local theater performances, concerts, sporting events, local attractions and museum memberships. Gifting a used item from a second-hand shop or looking for items in your own home for a holiday exchange are also great ways to cut back on cost and green your holiday shopping. Using recyclable materials like fabric, old maps, newspapers or magazines for gift wrap is another easy way to reduce waste.

Making a few small changes to go green this holiday season can make all the difference in helping people across the St. Louis region breathe easier. For more information, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.