Sustainability and Recycling at UMSL


By Mary Chickos

Staff Writer

*Image by Jamie Mitts/The Current. Jean Ponzi, Green Resources Manager, Missouri Botanical Garden’s Earthways Center, giving her lecture

Jean Ponzi, Green Resources Manager for the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Earthways Center, was on campus Thursday, January 22, at noon to present a program on improving and promoting sustainability. She informed the guests that all of their individual efforts at recycling make a large overall green effort.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is the country’s oldest botanical garden in operation and a National Historic Landmark with 79 acres of beautiful gardens and historic structures. The Garden is also an international center for botanical research, education, and horticultural display with a mission “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.”

The Earthways Center focuses on businesses, non-profit organizational strategy and cultural influences in this area to promote sustainability. “This is meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” said Ponzi. Their efforts have included working with over 150 businesses in the area in order to improve their green, recycling processes.

In the talk, Ponzi discussed humanity’s role in the Earth’s future. There is a relationship between capital resources, human resources, and natural resources. Humanity must learn from living systems and prevent toxic outputs, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from spray cans as well as other toxic chemicals, from being released into the air and soil. We have to live within the Earth’s limits and finite resources. It is better to prevent a mess than to clean up after one. Conservation ecology involves building relationships and making connections in our natural world.

Sometimes that takes the form of finding alternatives to our current resource methods: artificial sources of light, conserving electrical power, and surge protection for our electrical devices.

There are a few ways everyone can help individually. A prime example is to always try to buy recycled paper products whenever possible. In St. Louis, there are many farmers’ markets that sell fresh produce. The nearby Earthdance Farms in Ferguson grow fresh food where it was not available before.

In St. Louis, there is a lot of awareness of environmental sustainability and green business partnerships. The city, fortunately, has a great recycling infrastructure in place. St. Louis also has one of the lowest utility rates compared to anywhere in the rest country, as well as, lower natural gas and petroleum prices. The landfill fees here are some of the lowest in the United States. On February 3, 4, 10 and 11, the Environmental Adventure Organization and Sustainability Office will be educating people on how to recycle at home and how to help UMSL with recycling on campus via a program named Recyclemania. For any Green Questions contact the Earthways Center by email at or by calling 314-577-0246.


(c) The Current 2015