On this Earth Day, a greener city could be just a bike ride away

2013-04-22T00:00:00Z On this Earth Day, a greener city could be just a bike ride awayBy Thomas R. Tavella stltoday.com
April 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The city of St. Louis is truly on the way to becoming “Historically & Dynamically Sustainable,” as the motto for the city’s sustainability plan suggests. Through careful crafting and consideration, many believe that this plan, formally adopted just over three months ago, may be one of the most impactful decisions made by the city.

In the race toward becoming the greenest city, where does St. Louis have the edge? The answer is right in their slogan: the historic landscape of St. Louis is already brilliant. Through the sustainability plan, St. Louis will make an effort to ensure all residents have access to these great spaces by placing an emphasis on a healthy, active living program that utilizes city parks. With this, in tandem with sustainable design practices, St. Louis’ commitment to preserving and celebrating the city’s iconic landscapes and buildings can be realized.

Sustainable design refers to outdoor spaces that are responsive to the environment, re-generative, and can actively contribute to the development of healthy communities. Sustainable landscapes clean the air and water, increase energy efficiency, restore habitats, and create value through significant economic, social and environmental benefits.

Even with all of this, it will be difficult for St. Louis to become a wholly green, sustainable city until its residents take action in their own personal lives.

This Earth Day, from the historic, bike-friendly neighborhood of Carondelet to the premiere public spaces of the Loop, I ask all St. Louis residents to complete the simple task of writing their own personal sustainability plan. Easy tips for creating a sustainable environment in your own home include using compact fluorescent light bulbs once your older ones run out, taking shorter showers, installing a low-flow showerhead, buying your veggies at local farmers’ market, and recycling.

In addition to saving energy and water, pledge some time for you and your family to visit the local parks and green spaces that shape St. Louis’ landscape. The more you enjoy these free green spaces, the more people start to understand just how committed St. Louis is to sustainability on all levels.

You can find the trail nearest you at the Great Rivers Greenway website: www.greatriversgreenway.org. The benefits for staying active are astounding, both physically and mentally. Dust off that bicycle, put on your running shoes, and get out there.

Thomas R. Tavella is the president of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

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