Earth Day in St. Louis

For our special Earth Day blog, Landscape Designer Karen Spreitler discusses what Earth Day in St. Louis means to her, and ways you can join her in going green!

This yearEarth Day STL, April 22nd is designated “Earth Day” and for me marks the beginning of Spring and all good things to come.  The winter is long gone, trees are budding and blooming, cafés set out tables for alfresco dining and our beloved St. Louis Cardinals hit the mound.  Earth Day, however, is bigger than all those things, now celebrated around the world by 1 billion people since its inception by Senator Nelson in 1970.  Earth Day is the largest secular event observed worldwide for all ages to take action to better our environment. Most of us who are in the know will be going to Forest Park for Earth Day celebrations on April 24th.

Every year I take up a new action to help mother earth as its struggles to keep up with my dirty habits. I’m about 55% on bringing my own bags to the grocery store.  I now keep a stash in my trunk as a more convenient way to remember. But in a hurry I rush in to shop and come out with new bags only to see the stash when I open the trunk. Ugh, next time.  I ride my bike to doctor appointments, yoga and the market.  By organizing my errands and strategically manipulating my client visits I drive the shortest distance minimizing the carbon monoxide belching from my car.    Last year I started composting my kitchen scraps.  My daughter in-law gave us a compact Yimby composter for Christmas.  It can be surprising how much we can pile in it!  This year I will not be able to attend our Earth Day celebration to get inspiration.  However, there is no shortage of ideas since I think about ways to be healthier on a daily basis.  My research lately has been on observing  those fashionistas that wear items from years gone by.  My daughter being one of these stylish trend setters, has for the last several years inspired me to shop at resale outlets for clothes.  I like that you can piece together vintage styles with modern pieces to create your own individual style.  Maybe you will see me in my new style at the grocery store with my reusable bags this year.

Interesting facts about our daily dirt.

Americans use and dispose of 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year and at least 12 million barrels of oil are used per year in the manufacture of those bags. (Wall Street Journal)

Less than 5 percent of plastic grocery bags are recycled in the U.S. (Environmental Protection Agency)

The US spends about 1 billion dollars a year just to dispose of food waste.  Food leftovers are the single-largest component of the waste stream. (EPA)

The decomposition of food and other organic waste in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon monoxide.

How You Can #GoGreenSTL 

Plant a tree!  One tree can take up to 48 pnds of carbon monoxide per year. A mature tree holds up to one ton of carbon monoxide.  Properly placed around a residential or commercial building an active tree can reduce cooling energy by 30 percent and that same tree can absorb up to 100 gallons of water a day.

Plant natives!  Native milkweed provides a sap that helps protect the Monarch butterflies against predators  when they ingest it.  Cup plant is a host to over 47 insects beneficial to birds and the nectar is a favorite among pollinators.