Featured Stories

June 27, 2023 Sustainability Lab @ T-REX

Sustainability Lab @ T-REX
Mid County Sustainability Consortium

Tuesday, June 27, 2023
3:45pm-5:00pm Presentations / Discussion (join in person or on Zoom)
5:00-6:00pm Networking (in person only)

Join in Person: (Please note the Lab this month will be in a different room.)
T-REX (911 Washington Ave. in downtown St. Louis)
Purina Conference Room (5th Floor)
Plan your trip using public transit here.

Register and join on Zoom:

What better way is there to implement sustainability measures at the city level, than to learn from cities that have implemented them successfully? The June Sustainability Lab will focus on the Mid County Sustainability Consortium, a collaborative information-sharing effort between Webster Groves, Brentwood, Maplewood, and Clayton, supported by the St. Louis Green Business Challenge. Come hear from representatives of Webster Groves, Brentwood, and Maplewood about sustainability initiatives going on at their cities, and how they are sharing information with each other so easy, cost-saving sustainability "wins" can be replicated. We also welcome your advice and input for the consortium.

Click here to download a calendar invite for this Lab. 

(As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we ask that all attendees take appropriate precautions such as getting vaccinated, maintaining social distance, wearing a mask when in proximity to more than three people, and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.)

What is Justice40?

Published by the OneSTL Communications Committee

In January 2021, the Biden administration announced the Justice40 initiative, which mandates that “40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.” This initiative was created to address decades of underinvestment in these communities. 

Federal programs included in Justice40 currently fall into seven categories, which are expected to evolve: climate change, clean energy and energy efficiency, clean transit, affordable and sustainable housing, training and workforce development, remediation and reduction of legacy pollution, and clean water and wastewater infrastructure. 

Each government agency has released  its list of programs covered under Justice40. Check out the full list here.


Repurposing Vacant Lots in STL

Author: Anna Chott, Sustainability Planner at East-West Gateway Council of Governments











EarthWays Center staff, Outdoor Youth Corps, and St. Louis University medical students teamed up to clean up a vacant lot with the Sunflower+ Project. (photo credit: Richard Reilly)







Like many cities across the United States, St. Louis has a large number of vacant lots. But with nearly 1 in 5 lots within city limits vacant, St. Louis has one of the highest vacancy rates in the nation.


Vacant lots pose various issues, including attracting illegal dumping and litter and negatively affecting community pride. They can also become a safety concern. According to the St. Louis Regional Crime Commission—a nonprofit founded in 2006 comprised of area police chiefs, business owners, and civic leaders—vacant and derelict buildings account for about 40% of the fires in the City of St. Louis. Data show that crime often occurs in or near vacant buildings with about one-third of police calls coming from within 150 feet of a vacant property. 


Allowing buildings to become rundown and go unused is also an environmental concern. Globally, roughly half of raw materials extracted from the Earth go into the built environment. Additionally, construction is estimated to produce one-third of the world's waste and at least 40% of CO2 emissions. To address this problem, we should maintain buildings and repurpose their materials, rather than allowing them to fall into disrepair.


So what is being done in St. Louis to address vacancies? 


Revitalizing Vacant Lots with Green Spaces

The St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative and Green City Coalition developed a toolkit for revitalizing St. Louis’s vacant lots, including turning them into urban orchards, rain gardens, play spaces, and more. One highlighted example is the Sunflower+ Project, which is a biodiversity/pollinator project and outdoor classroom that activates a vacant lot until it is redeveloped. The project recently celebrated its 10th year in Old North St. Louis. 


Brightside St. Louis offers Neighbors Naturescaping grants for beautification projects, free flower seedlings, and tools to borrow such as rakes, shovels, and litter grabbers. Find more information about these resources here


The Community Development Administration (CDA) recently offered Neighborhood Transformation Grants to fund projects in Economic Justice Index priority areas and Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) in the city. CDA encouraged non-profit organizations to submit proposals for a wide range of projects, including gardens and green spaces on vacant land, affordable housing production, home repair, and neighborhood beautification and capacity building. The deadline to apply for funding was May 15, and recipients are expected to be announced in July. 


Anti-Foreclosure Support

The Real Estate Tax Assistance Fund (RETAF) helps combat the displacement of St. Louis homeowners facing foreclosure by providing up to $3,500 in tax assistance.  Legal Services of Eastern Missouri offers various services to help residents and community-based organizations prevent vacancy and property abandonment. These services include problem property litigation, assistance with challenges that contribute to property abandonment, and other technical assistance. The Vacancy Collaborative offers a list of resources for residents to avoid foreclosure and eviction. 


Rehabbing Vacant Homes

Many businesses and organizations also work to rehab vacant homes. One such company is  Dream Builders for Equity, which pays teens $15 an hour to rehab houses in North St. Louis. Beyond Housing has rehabbed hundreds of homes in North St. Louis. The Revitalization of Baden Association acquires vacant homes and offers them to new homeowners through a “Rehab to Own” program. The St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative offers a wealth of information for neighborhood associations, residents, and rehabbers/contractors to address vacancies. 


These are only a few of the many initiatives in the St. Louis region to prevent vacancies and restore vacant lots. Consider getting involved with these efforts to help make our communities safer, greener, and more thriving.

Sunflowers planted on a vacant lot as part of the Sunflower Project. The project helps encourage biodiversity and pollinators in the city. (photo credit: Richard Reilly)

May 30, 2023 Sustainability Lab @ T-REX

Sustainability Lab @ T-REX
Climate and Environmental Justice

Tuesday, May 30, 2023
3:30pm-5:00pm Presentations / Discussion (join in person or on Zoom)
5:00-6:00pm Networking (in person only)

Join in Person:
T-REX (911 Washington Ave. in downtown St. Louis)
Sharptooth Boardroom (5th Floor)
Plan your trip using public transit here.

Register and join on Zoom:

OneSTL Energy & Emissions Working Group members recently released a regional greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. As we discuss ways to reduce GHG emissions in our region, it is important to keep environmental justice as a priority. At this Lab, we'll hear from the following organizations about their work in environmental justice: Jalen Williams from United Congregations of Metro East, Beth Gutzler from Metropolitan Congregations United, and Craig Washington from the Urban League. The Urban League manages a Weatherization Assistance Program in St. Louis. Join the discussion of how we can reduce GHG emissions in our region, by supporting the work these organizations are already doing and keeping environmental justice as a focus.

Click here to download a calendar invite for this Lab.

(As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we ask that all attendees take appropriate precautions such as getting vaccinated, maintaining social distance, wearing a mask when in proximity to more than three people, and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.)



Plant America Garden Expo May 13


Food for People: How Reducing Food Waste Benefits Everyone

Author: Lacy Cagle, City Greens Market



As a nonprofit neighborhood grocery store, City Greens Market understands that building lasting food security requires investing in the long-term sustainability and resilience of our local food ecosystem. We use the Food Waste Hierarchy to make decisions that reduce waste throughout our supply chain. Reducing waste means we can lower our greenhouse gas emissions footprint, reduce the cost of food for our customers and members, and get more nutritious food to people. 


Source Reduction: Reducing food waste requires starting from the source. At City Greens Market, we source as much as possible from local farmers and growers who use sustainable and humane growing methods. Local, sustainable sourcing helps us eliminate waste throughout the supply chain, from reducing harmful chemical runoff, to reducing emissions from foods being trucked or freighted hundreds of miles, to reducing food spoilage from produce spending many days cooped in storage crates as it’s being shipped across the continent. This also allows us to support regional food systems (and a local economy!) with every purchasing decision we make. 


We also follow best practices for food storage to reduce food waste, including keeping foods at the right temperature and humidity to keep them fresh as long as possible. With the equipment available to us now, that means using more plastic than we would like to keep root vegetables and leafy greens fresh. We recycle and reuse plastic containers whenever we can, and we are constantly experimenting with new ways to keep food fresh and reduce our waste even more.


At home, you can reduce food waste by buying only what you need so veggies don’t languish in the back of your produce drawer until they’re unrecognizable and milk doesn’t spoil before you use it. This also can save you lots of money! We also recommend creating a meal plan and shopping list while in your kitchen so you can better determine what you need. Try to buy food with as little packaging as possible, and bring your own bags and containers with you when you shop.


Feed Hungry People: We do whatever we can to get fresh, quality food to people first. Our staff and volunteers process food that would not get sold while fresh. They blanch and freeze fresh fruits, make croutons from bread past its peak freshness, and make soups with wilted greens. Processing this food means we can sell at-peak frozen produce at a discount, make delicious and nutritious stocks and soups, and offer free samples of unique foods. We also have a free shelf, where we offer past-prime-but-still-edible food to anyone who wants or needs it , regardless of their membership status. This could include things like bruised tomatoes, limp carrots, or wrinkled eggplants. 


At home, you can make sure all available food  is used by freezing, canning, or pickling excess produce; toasting stale (but not moldy!) bread to use as bread crumbs; making broth out of veggie scraps and meat bones; and refreshing wilted greens with an ice water bath.


Animal Feed and Industrial Use: Because we do a great job of preserving food, we don’t actually do a lot with this step. Occasionally, we offer leftover soup bones or freezer-burned meat to members who request it for their dogs. 


Compost: As a last resort, anything that cannot be sold or donated goes into our compost bin. We also have a compost subscription program so our members can drop off their food scraps at our market. Composting diverts beneficial food waste away from landfills, repairs soil health, contributes to biodiversity, and restores integrity in the nutrient cycle. Total Organics Recycling uses their industrial-sized compost piles to process our organic waste into nutrient-rich compost. We then get that compost back to enrich our herb garden! In this way, composting closes the nutrient loop by allowing decaying food to nourish the soil instead of creating methane (a potent greenhouse gas!) by being trapped in a landfill. 


Because Total Organics Recycling composts on an industrial scale, we can compost things that you wouldn’t be able to compost in your backyard bin, including dairy products, processed foods, and compostable containers. But your backyard bin can easily handle produce scraps, eggs, shredded paper, and shredded cardboard, making a nutrient-rich soil amendment for free!


Reducing waste across the supply chain makes for a more sustainable, more equitable, and more cost-effective food system, whether you’re a grocery store like us or you’re minimizing waste in your own home. 



City Greens Market is a 501c3 nonprofit grocery store located at 4260 Manchester Ave. in The Grove. Founded in 2016, the Market’s mission is to provide access to fresh, quality, and affordable produce to all of their neighbors, to promote healthy living in the community, and to provide a welcoming and comfortable space for their members to interact. Find out more at

Matt, a City Greens Market volunteer and chef, cooks a delicious squash and ginger soup using produce that would otherwise go bad (Photo credit: Jackie Kinealy)
Diana, a City Greens Market employee, demonstrates how the Free Shelf works at City Greens. (Photo credit: Jackie Kinealy)

April 25, 2023 Sustainability Lab @ T-REX

Sustainability Lab @ T-REX
Sustainable Transportation and the Long Range Transportation Plan

Tuesday, April 25, 2023
3:45pm-5:00pm Presentation / Discussion (join in person or on Zoom)
5:00-6:00pm Networking (in person only)

Join in Person:
T-REX (911 Washington Ave. in downtown St. Louis)
Sharptooth Boardroom (5th Floor)

Register and join on Zoom:

Emissions from cars and trucks account for 23% of greenhouse gas emissions locally and 27% of emissions nationally. One avenue to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions is through the St. Louis region's Long-Range Transportation Plan. The Plan offers a vision and priorities for the St. Louis transportation system including highways, bridges, public transit, bicycle and pedestrian routes, and serves as the framework for regional transportation decision-making and investments, such as the North-South Metrolink expansion and the Future64 project. Last year, the public had the opportunity to comment on the plan's Guiding Principles, and now public input is needed again, on the final plan. This year, a Transportation Equity Assessment was also conducted at the start of the planning process to inform the long-range plan. Join us to discuss the plan and how residents can have an impact on transportation decisions in the region.

Click here to download a calendar invite for this Lab.

(As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we ask that all attendees take appropriate precautions such as getting vaccinated, maintaining social distance, wearing a mask when in proximity to more than three people, and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.)