Spotlight On: AmeriCorps St. Louis

AmeriCorps St. Louis is a Soulard-based nonprofit that works to address community needs throughout the region through its robust network of member volunteers. As a participant in last year’s St. Louis Green Business Challenge, the organization incorporated a variety of sustainability initiatives into its programs, some of which included a variety of sustainable training opportunities for its members around environmental stewardship and disaster relief projects. These efforts helped AmeriCorps St. Louis earn the esteemed title of Challenge Champion in 2023, as the organization was able to demonstrate their commitment to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies.  

“This year, AmeriCorps St. Louis built on past Green Business Challenge accomplishments,” said Tim Elwell, Development Manager for AmeriCorps St. Louis. “Continuing our mission to strengthen communities and improve the environment, we introduced new initiatives and partnerships that expanded impacts beyond our operations. While we remain committed to environmental stewardship, the Challenge encouraged us to be creative about how we can implement sustainability elements throughout the organization.” 

During the 2023 Challenge, AmeriCorps St. Louis introduced an educational Green Series for its members to learn more about sustainability, featuring site visits and presentations from MOBOT (sustainable facilities), New Earth Farm (composting) and Republic Services (recycling), as well as other new topics. Additionally, the organization was invited to participate in a new project called the Life Cycle Evaluation Climate Change Bundle, which seeks to better understand the organization’s programs and its explicit connection to climate change. AmeriCorps St. Louis was one of four programs chosen to host a site visit for field and member data to contribute to Climate Change programming at AmeriCorps at the federal level.  

Other noteworthy accomplishments included supporting Treesilience, a national initiative aimed at growing healthy tree canopies and promoting urban forestry workforce development in communities where trees may be lacking or dying. AmeriCorps St. Louis members worked to fell hazardous ash trees at various parks around the region. A grant received from Wild Ones St. Louis Chapter also allowed a native plant garden to be established at AmeriCorps St. Louis’ offices in Soulard – now an officially registered native space – and has benefitted the region’s air quality. To take sustainability one step further, AmeriCorps St. Louis established a partnership with Enterprise Fleet Management to update its trucks to newer, more efficient vehicles, adding six new Chevrolet trucks to its fleet that will cut average cost per mile roughly in half. 

For more information on AmeriCorps St. Louis and how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to the Challenge’s bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore the Clean Air Partnership’s website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. 

Spotlight On: Office Essentials

Office Essentials is a St. Louis-based, business products and services company that specializes in office supplies, office furniture, facilities and breakroom supplies and managed print services. With a commitment to delivering real value to customers by crafting customized yet simple plans to cut time, costs and carbon, the company takes pride in its ability to develop innovative solutions that drive long-term success for clients across various industries. This month, the Clean Air Partnership is pleased to shine a spotlight on Office Essentials for its eco-conscious product offerings and sustainability practices that helped the company earn the esteemed title of 2023 St. Louis Green Business Challenge Champion. 

“Through energy-efficient warehouse lighting and a commitment to offering sustainable business products, we illuminate a path towards a greener future,” said Kate Dougherty, president of Office Essentials. “As ambassadors for sustainable practices, we strive to not just connect with, but inspire St. Louis’ top companies and organizations in working towards a more environmentally conscious and responsible tomorrow.” 

Within its own offices, the company made several improvements to promote sustainability, including upgrades to its entire 17,500-square-foot warehouse that converted all fluorescent bulbs to LED lighting fixtures. This not only yielded high energy savings – approximately 60 watts per unit – but other environmental benefits also as LED lights contain no toxic materials, are completely recyclable and emit up to 80% less harmful greenhouse gases. Additionally, Office Essentials continued on a more sustainable path by replacing plastic cups and utensils with eco-friendly paper goods in the employee breakroom, printing double-sided in black ink only, recycling paper, plastics, and cardboard internally, as well as providing routing software to delivery drivers to shorten travel time and overall stops. To further reduce vehicle emissions from commuter travel, Office Essentials employees were given the option to choose a hybrid work schedule to support their needs and cut down their carbon footprint. 

During the 2023 Challenge kickoff, Office Essentials showcased its entire lineup of sustainable product offerings, in addition to presenting them at Washington University’s Diversity and Sustainability event. Among those products highlighted were cleaning and breakroom products produced by Highmark – a sustainable and diverse manufacturer – that included bowls made from sugar cane and plant-based plastic cups. Office Essentials also implemented website icons promoting diverse manufacturers and sustainable products to help customers make more environmentally and socially conscious purchases. 

Moreover, Office Essentials continued to incentivize customers to recycle toner cartridges by collecting them for free. This effort resulted in over 10,000 cartridges being collected and shipped back to manufacturers to be reused in producing new cartridges and drums each year. Packing deliveries for the Saint Louis Zoo in reusable totes instead of standard cardboard boxes also helped to reduce plastic pollution that oftentimes winds up in landfills and pollutes the air. 

For more information about Office Essentials’ continued efforts around sustainability and how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to the Challenge’s bi-monthly 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. 

Making Every Step Count for Cleaner Air and Healthier Lungs

People from all walks of life – including cancer survivors, friends, family, first responders, firefighters and more – are gearing up for the premier stair-climb event in the region this weekend. The American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb – St. Louis is returning to Metropolitan Square on Saturday at 8 a.m., featuring one-of-a-kind views and the best set of stairs this side of the Mississippi. From beginners to competitive climbers, all are encouraged to scale the building’s 42 floors by racing up its 900+ steps or taking it at your own speed to support those with lung disease who are fighting for every breath.

The goal of the event is to raise awareness and funds to support the American Lung Association’s efforts through research, education and advocacy. Registration fees and fundraising dollars will go toward helping the nonprofit organization save lives by working to defeat lung cancer and improving the quality of the air we all breathe. Today, that fight is more important than ever, and 90 cents of every dollar raised will go directly to the cause. Participants can register online through Friday or in-person on the morning of the event to climb as a team, an individual, or join as a volunteer.

When climbers get to the top, they can experience what it feels like to suffer from lung disease and empathize with individuals who unfortunately have to suffer through it every day. According to the American Lung Association’s most recent “State of Lung Cancer” report, close to 238,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, with the rate of new cases varying by state. Missouri ranks 43rd among all U.S. states for new lung cancer case rates at 68.4 (per 100,000 population), which is significantly higher than the national rate of 54.6. While there are a variety of risk factors associated with lung cancer, overwhelming evidence shows that long-term exposure to particle pollution in the outdoor air we breathe – like that coming from vehicle exhaust, coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources – is a leading cause. This reinforces the need for everyone to step up for clean air across the country and in our communities, and taking part in an event like this one is a great place to start!

For more information on the Fight for Air Climb – St. Louis and how to get involved today, click here. For more information about the health effects of exposure to polluted air and tips to reduce emissions to help protect lung health, visit the Clean Air Partnership’s website, like us on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter.