Spotlight On: The City of Collinsville

As a returning participant of the St. Louis Green Cities Challenge in 2020, the City of Collinsville’s outstanding efforts to be a green-conscious municipality is a testament to their forward-thinking approach and strong desire to improve the quality of life for present and future residents by considering the long-term significance of everyday decisions.

During the 2020 Challenge, Collinsville adopted its first Sustainability Plan to meet the community’s current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. Designed to make the city more operational and energy efficient, this noteworthy plan was divided into five focus areas: Transportation; Buildings, Grounds, and Lighting; Environmental Management; Land Use and Planning; and Community Development, Engagement, and Education. The city received public input and support from two open houses – in addition to an online survey – and has also ensured the relevance of the plan for years to come. The Sustainability Plan will be reviewed annually by city staff and the Cool Cities Committee to evaluate which policies have not been started, those that are in progress, are fully implemented and consideration to add or modify policies based on scientific research and/or emerging technologies.

Among the other impressive innovations put forth by the city during the 2020 Challenge to keep up with its sustainability goals was a “Goatscaping” program piloted by Willoughby Farm, which encompasses over 30 acres of wildlife preserve that offers opportunities for education and recreation in the heart of Collinsville. Through the “Goatscaping” program, the farm leases goats to privately owned residential properties within the city as an environmentally friendly way to clear unwanted weeds and invasive plants. Willoughby Farm plans to continue this program moving forward and further expand it this year. Moreover, the city partnered with Land of Goshen Community Market’s Beet Box, a mobile farmer’s market designed to increase access to fresh local produce and more comprehensive nutrition education for underserved residents. Every Monday from July to October, the city reserves space for the Beet Box in Woodland Park, directly across the street from Collinsville’s largest public housing development. Since sourcing food locally helps to cut down on emissions produced by large transport trucks, the less produce and supplies have to travel means that less waste is produced, resulting in a smaller environmental impact overall.

To further reduce environmental impact, the city discontinued spraying for mosquitoes last year. Those efforts in prior years ultimately had little impact on mosquito control, caused adverse effects on the environment and were largely considered a nuisance by residents. As a result of discontinuing the program, the decreased labor hours and supplies are an added bonus for air quality and will also yield operational savings, too!

For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by the City of Collinsville and how your organization or municipality can get involved in the Challenge, subscribe to the weekly E-Newsletter or visit 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.

Take Action for Cleaner Air This Summer to Maintain Healthy Lungs as COVID-19 Lingers

While the St. Louis region and cities nationwide are experiencing a decline in the number of overall COVID-19 cases, the staggering toll of the pandemic has driven home to the world the importance of healthy lungs. New research shows that exposure to elevated levels of air pollution is linked to worse health outcomes from COVID-19; however, the health burden of air pollution is not evenly shared as certain populations face a greater risk of illness or even death from breathing unhealthy air.

Several key factors can affect an individual’s level of risk – including where someone lives, where they go to school and where they work – which all greatly impact the amount of air pollution a person is exposed to. Likewise, children, older adults and people with chronic lung or heart conditions may be physically more susceptible to the health impacts of air pollution.

According to the American Lung Association’s latest “State of the Air” report, close to 20.7 million people – or 6.3% of Americans – live in the 13 U.S. counties that failed all three tests for ozone and particle pollution levels. Report findings also reveal that, of those 20.7 million individuals, 14 million are people of color. Communities of color have been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and are disproportionately exposed to unhealthy air, with sources of pollution like power plants, industrial facilities, landfills and highways being deliberately placed in economically disadvantaged communities of color. In general, living in poverty increases the likelihood of being in close proximity to sources of pollution, and thus being more susceptible to respiratory infections.

The uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, including the thousands of survivors who potentially may never regain their full health, raises the danger of a sharp and sudden rise in the number of people living with underlying conditions that put them at increased risk of health harm from air pollution. During the coming summer months when weather conditions create a risk for higher ozone pollution levels and ozone-related health concerns, it is especially important for these individuals and the rest of the population to prioritize lung health by minimizing exposure to air pollution when possible and taking action to reduce harmful emissions that contribute to the problem.

For starters, the Clean Air Partnership releases daily air quality forecasts to let residents know what the air quality is forecast to be during the prime of summer. Signing up to receive the color-coded forecast via email at helps to ensure St. Louisans know what the next day’s air quality is forecast to be and if they should take precaution by altering their outdoor activities to avoid being exposed to polluted air. Given that transportation-related emissions have always been one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, the Partnership encourages area residents to do their share for cleaner air by telecommuting, choosing not to idle your vehicles, avoiding topping off your gas tank and combining errands into a single trip. Carpooling, ridesharing and taking advantage of the region’s public transit system as people continue transitioning back to the office can also make a big difference in the amount of ozone-forming emissions generated on any given day and improve lung health overall.

For more information and a host of additional tips to help people all across the region breathe easier this summer, visit our website, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter.