Spotlight On: Madison County Planning & Development

As the St. Louis metro area continues to experience temperatures that have been warmer than usual for this time of year, the first day of winter is just days away, highlighting the importance of maintaining our environment and air quality. That’s why this month, we’re thrilled to shine a spotlight on Madison County Planning & Development for their noteworthy green achievements and innovations that are having a positive effect on the environment and helping clear the air in the region.

During the 2020 St. Louis Green Business Challenge, Madison County Planning & Development earned the esteemed title of Challenge Champion for completing work with the Leader scorecard and committing to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies. The organization also elected to develop and report on an Innovation Project – Madison County Clean Communities – to promote cleaner neighborhoods, businesses and organizations.

The project is modeled after the Riverbend Trash Tag Challenge, which started when a group of Alton area residents — in partnership with Alton Main Street, the Sierra Club Piasa Palisades Group and The Nature Institute — launched a social media campaign focused on reducing litter in their community. Madison County Clean Communities (MCCC) seeks to expand the scope and scale of this existing framework to serve all of Madison County. As a result, Madison County Planning & Development launched the Madison County Clean Communities Facebook group last fall, gaining over 600 members in the first six weeks. Since then, the group has also identified over 100 individuals willing to step up as community leaders, along with over 40 potential partner groups and organizations.

“Madison County Clean Communities launched online in September, and we’re off to a great start. Community input and brainstorming processes clearly showed one thing: this program’s top value is our community members,” said Andi Campbell Yancey, Sustainability Coordinator for Madison County Planning & Development. “So many dedicated individuals throughout the county want to make a difference but aren’t sure how. MCCC aims to unite those individuals behind a common cause and connect them to resources and opportunities for sustainable action. We are so excited to grow this initiative and see what we can accomplish in the years to come.”

To further guide the program’s creation and implementation efforts, Madison County Planning & Development sustainability staff created a survey to gauge public perception on littering in the area and to identify additional community leaders, partner organizations and target areas. In all, they received more than 200 survey responses from Madison County residents to help improve the program.

Another impressive initiative that earned Madison County Clean Communities recognition in the Challenge was a focus on public outreach and education about the harmful impacts litter has on local communities, the environment and air quality. MCCC elevated its anti-litter messaging through their Small Green Steps Newsletter, social media accounts, Green Schools Program, press releases and more to do their share for cleaner air and reduce their overall carbon footprint. Moreover, MCCC has also partnered with Heartlands Conservancy to collaborate on wetlands and watershed cleanups in 2021.

For additional information on Madison County Planning & Development and how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to their weekly E-Newsletter or visit stlouisgreenchallenge.com. 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.

Vanpooling: An Inspiring Commuter Story

Article courtesy of RideFinders and Washington University in St. Louis

Donna Krekel, Senior Research Administrator in the department of Otolaryngology, and Gary De Wet, Technical Support Specialist at the Office of WUSM Chief Information Officer, have been vanpooling to and from the WashU School of Medicine campus every day of the week for over 20 years. Their vanpool party, which has been running since 1999, counts an average of ten people. Together with Gary as the primary driver, they share their commute journey departing from Union, MO, about 47 miles and 55 minutes away from campus.

Donna and Gary’s commute is made possible by RideFinders’ vanpool program, which provides a vehicle, maintenance, insurance, and gas, for any group of five or more individuals who want to commute together. Available to all residents of the greater St. Louis area (9 counties across Illinois and Missouri), the goal of this program is to reduce emissions and enhance our regional air quality, while providing an affordable and convenient way for people to commute.

As a long-time vanpool rider, Donna says that there are countless reasons to vanpool, including the convenience of not having to maintain a car, not paying for fuel, as well as being able to use the hour-long commute there and back to take well deserved naps before or after a long workday.

Benefit #1: Save Money

Over their two decades of vanpooling, Donna and Gary have saved thousands of dollars, and this is actually the primary reason that motivated them to start vanpooling in the first place. “The cost of RideFinders is much better than paying for gas, paying for parking, and paying for the wear and tear on your vehicle,” says Donna.

Tina Johnessee, RideFinders Vanpool Outreach Coordinator, is excited to share with us that the monthly Vanpool fares were just restructured and overall lowered, including a further reduced rate for a vanpool of 10 or more riders. The fare chart determines how much each rider has to pay monthly, based on mileage, commute frequency, and overall number of riders in the party. You have guessed it, the more riders in the party; the lower the fare will be for everyone!

And there is more. RideFinders waives the monthly fare for vanpool primary drivers in exchange for driving, fueling, and administering the vanpool. A great deal according to Gary who enjoys driving “while everyone else sleep like babies.” Drivers are also provided with a debit card they can use for gas when needed, so they don’t have to advance any of their own money.

In addition, “the Med School lets us park in their parking lot for free,” says Gary, a perk for people who vanpool, “so we don’t have to pay for that either.”

RideFinders’ Commute Calculator will give you a sense of how much money you can save by switching from driving alone to carpooling, but keep in mind that savings would be even greater if you were to join a vanpool!

Benefit #2: Increase Convenience and Flexibility

Included into the monthly fare are also vouchers for the Guaranteed Ride Home Program. Vanpool riders receive up to four $125 taxi rides per year in case of emergencies, or if they have to work late or leave earlier than the vanpool’s departure time that was agreed upon among riders. “It is really good to have the cab rides home in case something happens during work or to your family,” says Donna, “the cab rides will take you back to where you need to be,” whether it’s your home, your car, or elsewhere.

Other than those exceptional circumstances, however, riding a van to work instead of driving your own vehicle means that you get more hours of free time. In Gary’s words: “Your time, all of a sudden, is your own.”

“We used to have a couple of riders who would study,” adds Donna, referring to the activities that people would do on the van to and from work, “they were going to classes so they would read on the van while they’re on their way home.”

The pick-up and drop-off spots for the vanpools can also be flexible. While the general route for Donna and Gary’s team is from Union to the WUSM campus, passengers can also get dropped off other places along the way by coordinating individually with the primary driver. “We had somebody from the zoo once,” says Donna.“We used to swing through Forest Park and pick him up at a certain spot, then drop him off wherever he needed to be.”

The parking of the vehicle overnight is another flexible variable. While Gary and his team use one of the many commuter parking lots available in the region, participants are also allowed to drive the van all the way to their home for overnight parking, which is especially convenient for those who don’t own a vehicle.

Benefit #3: Make New Friends

In Donna and Gary’s case, seeing familiar faces week after week has allowed passengers to grow friendship with one another. “I knew her kids as babies, that’s just how it is,” says Gary, referring to Donna’s son, Jimmy. “You start to know people for a long time.”

Donna and Gary laughed remembering a time, early on in their vanpool journey, when the team came together to clean the van at Donna’s house. “Jimmy was a newborn when I first started riding the vanpool; we used to put change on the floor so he could ‘clean it up.’”

Having known each other for decades, Gary and Donna’s complicity and trust is palpable. They illustrate the human connections that can flourish from sharing something as mundane as a commute with people you would have never met otherwise.

Benefit #4: Stay Safe

The actual cleaning of the van, of course, does not fall onto the shoulders of a toddler. The vehicles are usually cleaned every six months through an electrostatic cleaner, though since the start of the pandemic, a clean commute commitment was adopted to double down on sanitation practices. Included in this commitment is a mask mandate enforced throughout all the vanpool parties, and an encouragement to lower the vehicle’s windows to increase ventilation. Each vehicle is also stocked with gloves, masks, and sanitizing wipes, ensuring that every surface that is touched can also be wiped down in between each shift and transportation of passengers.

“Regardless of the pandemic, people still have to get to work,” says Tina, who was among the first of the staff to start stocking the vans full of PPE even when there was a shortage in the beginning of the pandemic. “We are here for them. We just want to make sure that the safety of the riders stays at the utmost importance.”

Vanpool Outreach Coordinator, Tina, holding the electrostatic atomizer, visits Gary’s van for sanitation.

Benefit #5: Contribute to a Cleaner Planet

In November 2020, WashU was one of three recipients of RideFinders’ 2020 Regional Sustainability Award. Having added the most participants in the past 18 months into RideFinders’ carpool and vanpooling programs, WashU is celebrated for being a player in reducing single-occupancy vehicles on the road and improving air quality in the St. Louis region.

According to RideFinders, “vanpools remove nearly 800 vehicles and 60,000 driving miles from our region’s roadways daily – easing traffic congestion for everyone.” In addition, “by reducing the number of vehicles on the road, vanpooling helps eliminate over 2 million pounds of air pollution annually – allowing everyone to breathe easier.”

“Saving money is always on the forefront of most of our minds, but I have a new granddaughter,” says Tina. “When I started working here, that was one thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to make sure that I do my part and make this world a better place for her to grow up.”

Test Drive Transit this Winter with CMT’s Try & Ride Program

Thousands of St. Louisans know that public transportation is a convenient, cost-effective and hassle-free way to get around the St. Louis region. It’s particularly viable in the winter months – as transit riders don’t have to worry about heating up personal vehicles, navigating potentially dangerous roadways nor the added expense of gasoline at a time of year when engines are less fuel efficient.

Have you ever given transit a try? Or are you one who has taken MetroLink to a ballgame or concert, but never considered it for the workday commute? If so, Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT) – the region’s transit advocacy organization – has a free, award-winning opportunity known as the Try & Ride program that might be of interest to you.

The program allows commuters to test drive the transit system for the daily work commute. Those who register for the program get personalized route recommendations, complimentary transit fare tickets and a host of tips and tricks for taking transit. The program is a two-month commitment. Complimentary transit tickets are provided for the first month and riders are required to utilize the bus or train for one additional month at their own expense. Another benefit of the program is registration in CMT’s  Guaranteed Ride Home Program, which provides access to more immediate transportation options in the case of personal emergency, sickness or unscheduled overtime by way of a taxicab, ride-hailing services like Lyft, or rental vehicle through Enterprise Rent-A-Car. CMT subsidizes the cost of 80 percent of these types of rides, up to $60 per ride, for those eligible.

“Some area residents shy away from taking public transportation because of the fear of the unknown,” stated Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit. “Our programming is designed to combat this by offering commuters all the tools and resources they need to confidently navigate our region’s integrated public transit system to get where they need to go.”

To learn more the benefits of taking transit, which includes helping to clear the air, or to register for the Try & Ride program today, visit www.cmt-stl.org.  For more information on the link between sustainable transportation and our air quality, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: The City of University City

As a returning participant of the St. Louis Green Cities Challenge in 2020, the City of University City remained committed to sustainable practices and programs that improve the health and quality of life of its community, restore and protect its natural resources and strengthen the economy.

University City is one of the oldest suburbs in the St. Louis metropolitan area and has been a proud participant of the St. Louis Green Cities Challenge for several consecutive years. Known for its rich history dating back to the late 1800’s and named after the community’s proximity to Washington University, U City has become a center of learning and culture, as well as an area of prosperous commercial activity. With the three P’s – People, Planet and Profit – at the core of their sustainability strategy, University City strives to remain environmentally and socially responsible while ensuring they make fiscally responsible decisions to implement various projects and programs.

During the 2020 Challenge, University City persisted with collections and public education during COVID-19 to inform residents of how to properly dispose of paint and other household hazardous waste, in addition to generating awareness for illicit stormwater discharge that would result from such waste. Moreover, the City Council established the Commission of Stormwater Issues to continue the study of this complex subject and provide recommendations for the design and implementation of projects and policies to protect the community from stormwater harm and to promote public health.

Another impressive accomplishment that helped earn the city recognition in the 2020 Challenge was a partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Blackbird Foundation to complete an audit of residential food waste in University City. The results from the audit will help to develop new educational programming on the importance of reducing food waste, which will also positively impact air quality in the region by limiting the amount of waste that winds up in landfills. An additional collaboration with Washington University’s Sustainability Exchange Program also led to long-overdue updates to University City’s Sustainability Strategic Plan, which was originally developed in 2010.

To further reduce environmental impact, University City formed a TreeKeeper volunteer group to focus on native planting and to remove honeysuckle and other invasive species that may pose a threat to air quality. In an effort to promote recycling and reduce paper waste, University City also established a program to eliminate delivery of paycheck stubs in envelopes for city employees by moving to electronic-only delivery and hosted a community paper shredding event, which recycled nearly six tons in total over the course of three hours!

Last but not least, University City continued to participate in the regional Grow Solar St. Louis program in 2020, which promotes education and group purchasing discounts for residential solar power, and the commercial Renew STL Solar program.

For additional information about the ongoing sustainable efforts by University City and how your municipality can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge/Green Cities Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit stlouisgreenchallenge.com. 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.

“Be Merry on Metro” to Do Your Share for Cleaner Air

Tis the season for music, lights, Santa and gifts – and in the coming weeks this merriment will also be part of Metro Transit trips. Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT), Metro Transit, St. Clair County Transit District, Bureau of Transit Police, Metro Transit Public Safety, University of Missouri–St. Louis and AARP in St. Louis are teaming up to host “Be Merry on Metro” from Monday, Dec. 6, to Friday, Dec. 24, featuring a host of seasonal surprises at Metro Transit Centers and aboard MetroLink, MetroBus and Metro Call-A-Ride vehicles. With transportation-related emissions being one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, taking public transportation during the holiday season is a great way to reduce harmful auto emissions to help keep the air quality in healthy ranges.

This effort will kick off during the morning commute on Monday, Dec. 6, from 7:00 to 8:30 a.m. During this timeframe, representatives from the partnering organizations will be at select Metro Transit Centers handing out “Be Merry on Metro” branded sock hats – along with candy canes and a calendar showcasing all the fun planned for the month of December.

All “Be Merry on Metro” activities are tied to weekly themes and include Music & Lights from Dec. 6-10; Santa & Surprises from Dec. 11-17; and Opportunities and Appreciations from Dec. 20-24. The events will feature strolling carolers, a “Saturday Morning with Santa” event, special Ten Toe Express guided walking tours, promotion of job opportunities, holiday tunes at Metro Transit Centers and more.

Throughout the month, transit riders should also be on the lookout for “Gift of Transit” gift boxes wrapped in red ribbon randomly placed on MetroBus, MetroLink and Metro Call-A-Ride vehicles. If a transit rider finds a gift box, they can keep it and its contents. There will also be hundreds of gift box cutouts. If a transit rider finds one, all they need to do is look for their gift, which is attached to the back of the “Gift of Transit” cutouts. Transit riders can also participate in the Ugly Sweater contest by taking a photo of themselves wearing an ugly sweater, while traveling on transit, and posting it to social channels using #ToastyOnTransit. Participants will be entered to win a special prize package.

“The ‘Be Merry on Metro’ effort is rooted in the mission of all of our community engagement initiatives,” commented Kimberly Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit. “It allows us to interact with riders, strengthen relationships and reinforce our collective commitment to a safe, comfortable, customer-focused transit experience – all while spreading a little holiday cheer.”

Bi-State Development CEO Taulby Roach added, “In addition to thanking our riders, ‘Be Merry on Metro’ activities also afford us the opportunity to showcase our appreciation for our transit operators and let people know about the great career opportunities available through Metro Transit.”

For more information about “Be Merry on Metro,” visit www.cmt-stl.org, www.metrostlouis.org or www.scctd.org. Individuals can also follow this effort on social channels using #MerryonMetro. To learn more about the link between sustainable transportation and our air quality, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: Graybar

With a commitment to corporate responsibility serving as an expression of Graybar’s core values, the company strives to create a culture where employees feel a true sense of ownership for their results and can share in the success of the company, while also taking steps to make the world a better place. At the company’s corporate headquarters located in St. Louis, Graybar has set its sights on long-term goals that will make the company stronger and healthier for future generations, which also helped them to earn the esteemed title of Challenge Champion in the 2020 St. Louis Green Business Challenge. 

During the 2020 Challenge, Graybar worked toward creating a brighter, more sustainable future for the communities in which they live and work as part of their Champion Innovation Project – Sustainability Pivots to Service.  Here in St. Louis and at more than a dozen Graybar locations across the nation, company employees contributed $15,462 in cash and food donations to local food banks, which Graybar also matched with a cash donation through its recently launched “Empowering Our Communities” program. This initiative not only helps to feed those who are in need, but also helps to improve air quality by reducing that significant amount of food waste that might have otherwise gone to a landfill and generated harmful CO2 emissions. 

Other noteworthy sustainability initiatives spearheaded by Graybar’s Green Team – employees from various departments that conduct research, develop sustainable recommendations and share innovative ideas with the company’s Sustainability Committee – included a Print Release program that requires users to log in to a Print Release-enabled device to print their documents. This reduces the number of documents printed in error, saving both paper and toner. Additionally, machines are defaulted to print and copy double-sided, which further reduces paper waste and benefits air quality in the region. Supply Chain Waste Walks are another way the company helps clients identify opportunities to reduce waste in their own processes and procedures, uncover recycling opportunities and improve energy efficiency.  

Additionally, Graybar employees worked remotely from March through August last year, which benefitted the region’s air quality by reducing the number of cars on the roads and helped to reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gas emissions emitted from motor vehicles. Energy tracking also reported that the company’s St. Louis facilities saved an impressive $73,468.33 in electricity costs by doing so! 

Looking to the future, Graybar plans to expand its focus on environmental service projects and continue the work stemming from the company-wide 150th anniversary service initiative. 

The Clean Air Partnership is pleased to recognize the efforts of businesses such as Graybar that continue to take action for cleaner air by channeling their time and energy towards practicing sustainability. For additional information on how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to their weekly E-Newsletter or visit  stlouisgreenchallenge.com. 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.

 

Committing to Cleaner Fall Air for America Recycles Day

The sole nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting recycling in the United States comes at the perfect time – between Halloween and Thanksgiving – two holidays known for creating an excess amount of waste and having an adverse impact on the environment. Each year on November 15, millions of people across the nation take part in celebrating America Recycles Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of recycling and purchasing recycled products. 

Though the national recycling rate has improved over the course of the past 30+ years to 32% of all waste disposal being recycled, there is still much work to be done. Therefore, during the 2020 America Recycles Summit, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its first-ever National Recycling Goal to increase the national recycling rate to 50% by 2030. The agency recognized that collective commitments are best achieved when we have a common goal and has challenged businesses, communities and individuals to embrace this revolutionary goal to help collective efforts to improve the nation’s recycling system, create more jobs and conserve our natural resources. An added bonus of these efforts is the cleaner air that will result from a reduction in the need for power and for processing raw materials, which also reduces harmful air pollution. 

Here in the St. Louis region, area residents who are inspired by America Recycles Day to make a commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle in all aspects of daily life are also taking action for cleaner air. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips to consider for incorporating green into your day-to-day routine: 

  • Stay informed about recycling in your community – Understanding what can be recycled in your area is key to ensuring that anything you sort and place in your curbside recycling container with the intention of it being sent to your local recycling center actually makes it there. These items consist of obvious materials such as paper, plastic, glass and flattened cardboard, as well as less obvious materials, including most forms of metal and even food waste. For more details on what does and doesn’t belong in the blue bins, be sure to check out stlcityrecycles.com.    
  • Repurpose and reuse old items – In the general consumption of goods, we oftentimes ignore the fact that a major portion of our waste can be reduced or reused before resorting to recycling. Shopping at or donating to secondhand stores are great ways to prevent unwanted items from ending up in the landfill, reduce wastage of energy and resources on the production of new clothes and help save you money. With the holiday season upon us, gifting used items from a secondhand shop or using recyclable materials around the house like old fabric, maps, newspapers or magazines for gift wrap are also easy ways to significantly cut back on waste.

  • Ditch the plastic bottles – 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 substantial amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, their litter lingers for years on end. Instead of buying single-use bottles, consider purchasing a reusable water bottle you can take with you and refill as needed to cut down on unnecessary waste and help improve air quality. If you still prefer a single-use water bottle, make sure it gets properly recycled once you’re finished with it. 

You can do your share for cleaner air and further commit to living a recycled lifestyle by taking the #BeRecycled pledge at americarecyclesday.org. For more great tips on how to achieve cleaner air year-round, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. 

Spotlight On: Granite City

While area residents can look forward to breathing a little easier during the remaining weeks of fall as cooler temperatures continue to blow through the region, the importance of keeping the region’s air clean still remains high. That’s why this month, we’re pleased to shine a spotlight on Granite City, Illinois, for their unwavering commitment to environmentally-conscious practices year-round to help keep the air quality in healthy ranges.

Given its central U.S. location and access to the Mississippi River, Granite City has become a prime spot for industrial growth and put forth several initiatives to make the city a better and more sustainable community for its citizens, both now and for future generations. These efforts are led by the city’s Cool Cities Committee, an advisory group of residents who work with the Granite City government to educate and encourage residents, businesses and organizations to build a cleaner and greener city. As a proud participant of the St. Louis Green Cities Challenge now for six consecutive years, the committee has enjoyed learning what other communities throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area are doing to improve their cities and continues to be inspired by their sustainable accomplishments.

During the 2020 Challenge, Granite City participated in the University of Illinois Extension’s Garden Grant Project, which allows students and nonprofits to get hands-on experience transforming outdoor spaces into gardens, creating an immersive and educational environment that also largely benefits the region’s air quality. Additionally, the city launched a Tree Inventory Project in 2020 that aims to grow trees as ecological, economic and social resources for the city.

Among their other impressive innovations to receive recognition in the Challenge is a partnership with Granite City Art and Design District and New American Gardening to conduct research to remedy flooding in the city by using landscaping as a natural means of storm management. Another partnership with Madison County Green Schools and Six Mile Regional Libraries helped to provide an educational project titled “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot” for local schools, which featured a poster contest in celebration of America Recycles Day for K-12 students to illustrate their artistic talent and “think outside of the recycling bin.”

Moreover, graduate students from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville helped Granite City conduct a Greenhouse Gas Inventory using ICLEI’s (Local Governments for Sustainability) ClearPath Tool. Not only did the students gather and analyze data, but they also formally presented their findings to the Granite City Council and Mayor Ed Hagnauer to help gauge a clearer understanding of the city’s overall emissions.

Last but not least, Granite City also reunited with the Grow Solar Metro East project, a collaboration between several local groups who pool their finances to make solar technology installation more affordable for homeowners and businesses in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties in Illinois. The 2020 program ended with 36 homes going solar, putting 401 kW of clean, renewable energy into the region!

For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by Granite City and how your municipality can get involved in the Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. 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.

Spotlight On: Curium

With a company tagline of “Life Forward” that represents Curium’s commitment to securing a brighter future for its employees, partners and patients, the company values sustainability as a cornerstone in building an ethical and environmentally responsible business. Across all of Curium’s international locations, the world’s leading nuclear medicine company also believes in supporting the local communities in which they operate.

At the company’s North American headquarters in St. Louis, Curium was a proud participant in the 2020 St. Louis Green Business Challenge, with a focus on supply chain sustainability. During the 2020 Challenge, Curium earned the esteemed title of Challenge Champion for completing work with the Leader scorecard and committing to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies.

Among Curium’s impressive accomplishments to receive recognition in the Challenge was a project to reclaim and recycle spare parts throughout its facility to keep plastic, lead and other metals out of the landfills, while supporting thinking green in terms of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.” In doing so, the company reduced its overall stock and limited purchasing new items by reusing inventory, in addition to helping provide customers with a responsible way to dispose of shipping material.

Through a newly established company process to reclaim packaging materials and regulate waste, Curium used 26,754 reclaimed buckets last year during production and is predicted to use 27,832 reclaimed buckets this year, which is 91% reclaimed vs. new material. Furthermore, the company identified 25 parts from a machine in its facility no longer in use that could be repurposed in other machines. Upon completing a deeper inventory, an additional 123 spare parts were identified as recyclable, resulting in 3,026 lbs. of lead spare parts and 8,744 lbs. of copper spare parts that were sent off to Overland Lead to reuse and recycle.

Other noteworthy innovations include a company-wide transition to electronic purchase orders, which saves four hours of time each week organizing, filing and mailing off purchase orders and has helped to significantly reduce paper use. Rolling out this new system also grants the purchasing team the ability to work from home, which benefits the region’s air quality by keeping fewer cars on the roads and helping to reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gas emissions emitted from motor vehicles.

The Clean Air Partnership is pleased to recognize the efforts of businesses such as Curium that continue to take action for cleaner air by channeling their time and energy towards practicing sustainability. For additional information on how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to their weekly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. 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.

Ditch the Keys and Be Car Free to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

It’s the time of year again where people all around the world are preparing to ditch their keys for Car Free Day on September 22 to help reduce traffic congestion and work towards creating a greener environment. Though our cars are convenient and offer a number of benefits, they also contribute a dangerous amount of pollution. Having a day off from driving is highly recommended to raise awareness about these concerns and to help reduce harmful emissions. 

Vehicle exhaust produces thousands of tons of toxic pollution, including nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds that contribute to the formation of ozone smog and particulate matter, which makes it especially hard for sensitive populations to breathe. As the nation and our region continue to navigate the ongoing effects of COVID-19, those same individuals are more at risk for severe disease than others, meaning that Car Free Day takes on additional significance during the current climate. 

Although Car Free Day is only a single day out of the year, the goal is to take heat off the planet and our lungs by alerting individuals of the impact traffic has on quality of life and to inspire lasting change to live more sustainably year-round, not just on special occasions. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available for residents to ditch their keys and be car free to help take vehicles off area roads and reduce emissions that lead to poor air quality: 

  • Metro Transit – The region’s public transit system offers great alternatives for the work commute or an option to hopping in your car for short trips. Serving St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Clair County, Ill., Metro Transit allows riders to walk to a nearby stop, or park and take a train or bus, or a combination of the two, to get where they are going – safely, comfortably and conveniently. Those who live in Madison County, Ill., will find Madison County Transit to be another great alternative.  
  • Ridesharing – With transportation-related emissions being one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, RideFinders offers a path to reduce those emissions by providing a free carpool and vanpool ride matching service for commuters to help improve the overall quality of the air. By sharing a ride instead of driving alone, commuters can save money and enjoy a more relaxing trip. Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft match drivers of private vehicles to those seeking transportation and are another great option to eliminate the use of multiple vehicles. Earlier this summer, Metro Transit also launched a new, affordable shared-ride service called Via Metro STL, which allows passengers heading in the same direction to hail a vehicle directly from their smartphones using the Via app to get around parts of North and South St. Louis County.

  • Walk or Bike – Walking and biking are excellent ways to burn calories instead of burning gas! Not only do they serve as eco-friendly ways to run errands and get around town when weather conditions are favorable, but experts also note that if just 1% of those who drive chose to walk or bike regularly instead, automobile emissions would fall 2-4%.

  • Telecommute – According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than a third of U.S. households reported working from home more frequently than before the onset of the pandemic. The power of telecommuting to reduce auto emissions was clear across the country and around the world as stay-at-home orders last year led to much lighter traffic and cleaner air in countless locationsWith the region being opened back up for business and traffic ramping up, so does the potential for increased emissions that contribute to ozone formation. For those that can work from home, continuing to telecommute at least occasionally is encouraged.  

You can do your share for cleaner air by taking the pledge to be car free on September 22 and beyond to help St. Louisans breathe easier. For a host of additional tips on how to achieve cleaner air all year long, visit our  website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.