Getting ‘Sustainably’ Involved in Saint Louis

I like St. Louis, although it’s not my hometown.  I did not grow up here.  I can’t answer ‘the high school question‘ with a name St. Louis natives can readily recognize.  In the name of graduate school at SIUE (studying Environmental Sciences, living walls, green roofs, etc.),  I left my home in southwest Missouri and became a transplant.   Ever since I arrived to the region, I’ve been looking for stuff to do.  I’m not a typical bar fly or a sports nut or a shopping addict.  I prefer more intellectually engaging conversations about interesting topics, like sustainability, green building, environmental issues, ecology, green stuff, conservation, etc.  I also want to be active in some way to promote those ideals.

Cool and Touristy

Unfortunately, I found it extremely difficult to find out about green events, at first.  Google searches brought up events from months and years ago.   Eventually, though, I started to find groups with an internet presence, as well as online sources for all things green.  Now, it seems, I’m finally making it to events as they happen.  Hopefully I can get more involved with the planning and promoting of future events!

So, this is for anyone out there with an interest in green things around STL but clueless about where to begin.  The following is a (by no means complete) list of helpful websites.  Some websites are for organizations, and others mainly promote certain events.

One of the primary sources for all things green is St. Louis Green.  This site lists various sustainable businesses, events, job and career opportunities, educational institutions, recycling opportunities, and teaching tools for various grade levels.

Another excellent website represents the Eastern Missouri Group of the Sierra Club.  This is an active chapter with several educational events, nature outings, volunteer opportunities, and networking activities.  On the Illinois side of the river, the Piasa Palisades Group is also recommended.

OK, so when I said I wasn’t a bar fly, I didn’t mean that local brews were out of the question.  I discovered the St. Louis Chapter of an organization called Green Drinks.  This website is helpful in reminding you about their monthly gathering to learn something, network, make friends, and maybe have an adult beverage or two.

Are you looking to learn more about environmental damage and progress in Missouri?  Consider the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.  There is a lot of information on events, Missouri-related goingson, and political issues.

There is an excellent sustainability-minded group called the EarthWays Center, affiliated with the Missouri Botanical Garden.  Their website offers lots of educational tools and various information on events and other sustainability-centered organizations.  These folks host the annual Green Homes and Great Health Festival on the last Saturday in September.  The event features a Green Marketplace, various workshops, solar car races, electric vehicles on display, live music, and exhibitors from several groups and businesses.  I had the pleasure of volunteering with on of the recycling booths last year, helping folks sort recyclables.

Electric VehicleDid your ears perk up when I said electric vehicles?  If they did, check out the Gateway Electric Vehicle Club.  They showcase their projects, help one another, and educate others about the pros and cons of unconventional automobiles. (If you still prefer your internal combustion engine, you can learn about other things you can do to save on gas in an older post.)

Are you interested in sustainable building design and engineering or LEED certification and credentialing?  Consider checking out the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter.  This is a very active chapter of the US Green Building Council.  They have regular events like the Lunch n LEED program.  Update 01/13:  I took an excellent exam prep course through this chapter.  I’m now a LEED Green Associate!

Are you interested in urban watershed conservation and restoration?  Consider checking out the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance.  Learn about stormwater issues and management, water quality concerns and solutions, rain gardens, RainScaping Rebates, and nature in the St. Louis area.

If you’re big into hiking, the Ozarks offers plenty of terrain for you.  Visit the Ozark Trail, learn about activities and events, and consider volunteering to maintain or build trails.  I know it’s a bit out of St. Louis proper, but volunteer groups from St. Louis (like the Sierra Club) regularly help out on these trails.

Do you want to learn about native landscaping, gardening, urban farming, etc.?  Check out the Sustainable Backyard Tour.  This is an annual event put on by residents who are happy to showcase their yards and to try to inspire us to rethink the standard, boring, American lawn.

One large example of native and natural landscaping lies just outside of St. Louis in Gray Summit.  Shaw Nature Reserve, encompassing over 2,400 acres,  has examples of home gardening, rain gardens, wetlands, prairies, and woodlands.  There are also miles of relaxing trail to hike.  Update:  I volunteer out here once a week, learning more about native plants and natural landscaping!!

Anywho, there is a lot more, but I’m out of steam for now.  Happy hunting!

Please comment if you are aware of other regional green things.


5 thoughts on “Getting ‘Sustainably’ Involved in Saint Louis

  1. What a great post! Your sustainable journey in St. Louis reminds me of my own home school journey in Kentucky. I may just write a similar post in my blog…I enjoy your mindset very much.

    • Glad you liked it! It’s nice to get compilations of resources together to hopefully speed up that learning curve for others. Good luck on posting one for your neck of the woods!

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