Missouri Botanical Garden’s Earthways Center Celebrates Sustainability All Year

Earth Day may come just once a year, but the Earthways Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden celebrates sustainability year-round! From a “green” resources hotline to classes to home energy initiatives, the Earthways Center is full of information and opportunities for homeowners and the community at large to help keep our planet green and healthy all year long.

The Earthways Center is devoted to an increasingly vital goal: helping people understand how sustainable practice affects plants and the environment as well as the conservation of energy and other natural resources for future generations. One easy way to spread knowledge is through the Green Resources Answer Service. Those seeking information are encouraged to contact Earthways Center staff by e-mail: greenresources@mobot.org or by calling (314) 577-0246. People receive answers to a wide variety of questions about sustainable living, energy incentives, recycling, proper disposal of toxic items, vendors that specialize in green products and services and much more.
“This is an important resource for those building new homes, those rebuilding or those simply wanting to adopt a healthier green home lifestyle,” said Jean Ponzi, green resources manager for the Earthways Center at the Garden. “We maintain current vendor and resource lists which include information on topics such as solar panels, material recycling, rain gardens and energy alternatives, to list just a few. We strive to find answers as quickly as possible and we always love a challenge – if we don’t know the answer, we will work on it until we do. It’s a critically important approach for our community as a whole.”

In addition to the answer service, the Earthways Center offers an array of classes for adults and children throughout the year. Classes such as electric vehicle maintenance, rain barrel construction, restoring your own furniture, backyard chicken farming, beekeeping and even a Green Parenting Series are all offered to make green living easy, fun and economical. View a complete lineup of sessions currently available at www.mobot.org/classes under the “Green Living” link. Green Classes at Earthways Center.

“Our focus is helping people understand how their behavior impacts plants, and in turn how it affects the entire environment,” said Glenda Abney, director of the Earthways Center. “We promote sustainability through environmental education and improving the built environment. By educating people about our dependence on plants and the natural resources that support plant communities, we are teaching adults and youth to value and protect the things that sustain our families and communities.”

The Earthways Center was instrumental in introducing Home Performance with ENERGY STAR to the St. Louis bi-state area. This program provides a list of area contractors that will assist homeowners to examine existing energy features and help improve thecomfort, health, efficiency, safety and durability of existing homes.

Detox Your Domicile is a feature on the Earthways Center website, where homeowners can learn about safe alternatives to products used in the home and office. A downloadable booklet explains how to save and recycle containers, learn where toxins may be hiding in the home and how to decrease hazardous product usage in the home. An accompanying video explains how to shop green in the cleaning isle and offers alternatives that can be made from safe kitchen ingredients.
The Earthways Center also offers a quarterly e-newsletter that includes updates, program announcements, tips and helpful information about sustainability education, the built environment, energy and resources. Visit www.earthwayscenter.org to sign up and to download past issues.
“Our staff and volunteers are community leaders who are committed to promoting sustainability in the St. Louis region,” said Ponzi. “We have a big job to do. Our long-term goals are to grow the eco-literacy in our community. The solutions are there we just have to connect people in green awareness, thinking and practice. Sustainable literacy is something that makes good sense but people are not sure how to start. That’s where we come in.”

Learn more at www.earthwayscenter.org or by calling (314) 577-0220.
The Earthways Center is located in the Garden’s Commerce Bank Center for Science Education at 4651 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis.

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