Spotlight On: The Cities of Wentzville and Wildwood

As we’ve rounded out another extraordinary year of highlighting the tremendous work that several local organizations and municipalities have put forth to help improve the environment and air quality in their communities, we’re pleased to recognize the green efforts of two final participants from the 2020 St. Louis Green Cities Challenge – Wentzville and Wildwood, MO.   

With a strong commitment to the mission of the Green Cities Challenge, the City of Wentzville’s employee-led Green Team fosters sustainable practices citywide and encourages all employees to reduce their environmental footprints. Through quarterly meetings, projects such as pollinator plantings, holiday gift-bag exchanges, policy review and more, the city continues to be resourceful and environmentally responsible. 

For starters, Wentzville’s Parks and Recreation staff swapped out the existing Holiday Night Light scene display for LED lights. Since starting this gradual change about three years ago, the city decreased overall power usage for the displays by an astounding 62%. An additional 12,000 bulbs will be changed out this year, converting nearly all the lightbulbs to LEDs. Since LED bulbs are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lighting and draw far less power, this reduces the demand from power plants and decreases greenhouse gas emissions, which also positively benefits the region’s air quality! Additionally, the city’s Employee Committee purchased reusable utensils for quarterly staff luncheons to prevent an estimated 1,000 plastic utensils from going to landfills each year. 

To further reduce environmental impact, the city’s Stormwater Advisory Committee and Green Team completed a pollinator planting at the Schroeder Creek Boulevard – William Dierberg Drive roundabout. More than 700 native flowers were planted to help the local ecosystem and increase biodiversity. Moreover, the Green Team collaboratively built a sustainability-focused employee resource website with an assortment of eco-friendly offerings, including  a “Green at Home” section with activities like composting, rain scaping and educational activities for kids; a “Recycling in the Office” section featuring the what’s, how’s and why’s of recycling; “A Green Guide” with tips on where and how to start your sustainable journey; and a calendar of sustainability-focused days, regional events and opportunities. 

With Wildwood being one of the largest municipalities in Missouri and St. Louis County – in both population and land mass – the city has shown that it’s possible to develop businesses and build homes while protecting the beauty and space of its land. Among their impressive green innovations to receive recognition in the 2020 Challenge was a community planting project that installed at least 20 native trees and hundreds of native plants at LaCave Trailhead. The City of Wildwood also removed over 100 ash trees affected by the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive jewel beetle that feeds on ash species, and replaced over 80 trees with Missouri native species using a Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) grant. Last but not least, the city installed new and improved recycling bins with relevant labels in all City Hall meeting rooms to prevent contamination to recycling and promote proper waste disposal. 

In the coming months, the Clean Air Partnership will continue to shine a spotlight on local clean air advocates and the latest St. Louis Green Business/Green Cities Challenge Class of 2021. For more information on how to get your company or municipality involved in this year’s Challenge, contact program manager Jean Ponzi at [email protected] or subscribe to the Challenge’s weekly E-newsletter here. And stay tuned for more information on registration for the 2022 Challenge, which officially opens on Feb. 21! 

To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, be sure to check out our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.  



Ringing in the New Year with Sustainable Resolutions

During the month of January, the “new year, new me” mentality is top of mind for many, with popular New Year’s resolutions focused on eating better, hitting the gym more, pursuing a career ambition or taking up a new hobby. While few people actually stick to extreme goals, we oftentimes overlook other aspects of daily life where simple changes can have a significant impact on our health and the planet. 

Making the conscious choice to go green in 2022 and resolving to adopt some eco-friendly actions will result in multiple positive changes to your wallet, your well-being and the region’s air quality. 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 tips to consider for greening your resolutions for the year ahead: 

  • Walk, Bike or Take Public Transit – Since transportation-related emissions have always been one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, the choices people make on how to get around considerably affect air quality and the health of the region. Actions like walking and biking instead of using a vehicle for short trips, taking public transportation or sharing the ride to work in a carpool or vanpool are all great ways to reduce harmful auto emissions to help keep the air quality in healthy ranges.

  • Green Your Home – When your appliances have reached the end of their useful lives, opt for new ones that are Energy Star® rated to maximize efficiency. Switching out incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, putting timers on lights and investing in smart power strips will also help to eliminate unnecessary electricity use. While reducing and reusing are the most effective ways to save money and resources, recycling is another vital piece of greening your home by helping to keep 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’s easy for all family members to participate and consider purchasing recycled products to help clean the air. 
  • Nix Bottled Water – Did you know that up to 80 percent of single-use water bottles in the United States never get recycled? 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.

  • Go Paperless When Possible – There are many places where you can opt out of paper – whether that be credit card bills, receipts or even your favorite household cleaning products. Paper towels, for example, may be useful and convenient but collectively contribute to deforestation and an ever-increasing waste problem. Microfiber cloths, cloth or cotton napkins are great alternatives to keep on hand for kitchen spills and messes that are also more sustainable and cost-effective. Signing up for online banking, opting for email versions of receipts, printing on both sides of a sheet or using the back side of old documents for scrap paper are also resourceful ways to reduce paper waste. This helps to save trees and cut back on air pollution and water consumption associated with producing and transporting paper.

  • Think Globally, Buy Locally – Locally grown food offers countless benefits and also helps to reduce environmental impact. Imported food is often shipped hundreds and sometimes even thousands of miles to arrive at the supermarket. The greater distance the food has to travel, the more fossil fuels are consumed. Buying local produce reduces the amount of travel time for big transport trucks, ultimately improving the air quality by cutting back on air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. 

For more great tips on how we can all work together to achieve cleaner air in 2022, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. Have a happy and healthy New Year!