Participants in the St. Louis Green Business/Green Cities Challenge have been working hard to integrate eco-friendly measures in order to reduce their environmental impact and improve the region’s air quality. As part of the 2019 Green Cities Challenge, nine municipalities incorporated innovative and environmentally friendly practices into their local governments, and this month, we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on the City of Edwardsville for their commitment to pursuing various strategies to be a more sustainable community.
Many of the city’s green innovations last year focused on the importance of recycling and reducing waste. Edwardsville rolled out a variety of programs and educational resources throughout the city, including recycling flyers to place in residents’ City Water Bills and detailed recycling information in vendor applications for City Park events. They even brought recycling education into classrooms at local schools to instill green habits early on with the hope that students will make it an everyday habit.
Last October, Edwardsville City Council adopted a Single Use Bag Fee Ordinance that will go into effect on July 1, requiring a 10 cent per bag fee for disposable plastic and paper checkout bags at all retail businesses greater than 7,000 sq. ft. Because plastics bags are produced from non-renewable resources and remain as litter in the environment, the ordinance is being put in place to encourage the use of reusable bags to help clean the air by cutting down on thousands of plastic ones that end up in landfills.
Furthermore, the Single Use Bag Fee Ordinance inspired a Bag-Share program created by the regional action group, Bring Your Own, providing residents an outlet to reduce single-use waste and help others to do the same. Launched in partnership with local community retailers and institutions, the program distributes baskets labeled “Take a Bag, Leave a Bag” at various participating locations where shoppers can take clean, reusable bags if needed or leave an extra they might have. Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the state’s recommendation that shoppers no longer use reusable bags for the time being to protect both shoppers and cashiers from spreading the virus, the program is temporarily on hold.
In terms of collaboration, Edwardsville teamed up with the City of Glen Carbon on the mayor’s letter that calls for a decrease in plastic straw consumption by only providing straws per request in restaurants to raise awareness about the damage caused by disposable single-use plastics. Additionally, Edwardsville collaborated with the Beautification Tree Commission on the Heritage Tree Initiative with plans to spotlight the aesthetic and environmental benefits of mature trees throughout the city.
Other noteworthy accomplishments by Edwardsville in the Challenge include expanding their Green Team, increasing solar installation to support the Grow Solar regional effort, supporting major conservation purchases in the city and surveying policies in preparation of further sustainability improvements moving forward.
For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by the City of Edwardsville 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.