Apr 07

Green Spotlight - Once Upon A Child goes plastic bag free

Posted on April 7, 2023 at 3:20 PM by Rachel Douglas

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Green Spotlight - Once Upon A Child goes plastic bag free

Plastic bags have permeated the environment - You can find them in local streams, hung up in trees and even strung along the roadway. Although cheap and readily available, the reality of any single-use plastic is that it doesn’t instantly disappear once it has served its use. At the beginning of this year, local children’s store Once Upon a Child started a plastic bag free initiative to help reduce unnecessary plastic waste in its stores. Environmental Services reached out to local franchise owner, Babette Schlum, to get a better idea of how this effort has affected both her business and the surrounding community.


“I would love to tell you that the decision was solely based on a love of the environment, but it was a financial decision,” said Schlum.“With the cost of everything going up, the cost of freight is insane right now. We have everything shipped to us and bags are heavy. It was costing almost as much to ship them here as it was to purchase them.”

The transition to a plastic bag free business didn’t happen overnight. To start the conversation, Once Upon A Child staff discussed the idea with current customers for several months. To encourage customers to embrace the transition, Once Upon a Child integrated bagless events into their schedule – an effort that has been met with community support.

“Last September we did a bagless event and everything you could carry you got 30% off. That was really what kickstarted it. We were like ‘hey, we’re doing this bagless event.’ And then it was ‘by the way, were probably going to eliminate bags.’”

For those who are looking for a way to support the plastic bag free initiative, Once Upon a Child offers reusable tote bags for purchase. Totes can be purchased in store for $4.50, and are even offered for free at some of their events.

“We have been having tote sales to try and encourage people,” says Schlum. “We had a sale a few weeks ago where we gave you the tote for free and anything you could put into it you got for $12. That’s kind of a fun way to encourage customers to come in and get our tote.”

When asked how this transition has affected their business, Schlum stated that things haven’t really changed around Once Upon a Child.

“The cornerstone of what we do here is sustainability. As these younger generations are becoming parents, they're more aware of not wanting to use fast fashion, not wanting to use as many plastics and things like that. I tell my employees all the time that we’re not just a store, we provide an important service for our community.We need to not lose track of that, and anytime I can save the store money - by not having plastic bags - I'm saving my customers money because I don’t have to raise prices. And that allows me to continue to carry on and provide this service for our community, and I think that’s what's really important.”

To any business thinking about adopting plastic-free initiatives, Schlum has one piece of advice, “Now is the Time.”

“If you can, do it. It's one less thing for my employees to worry about. It's something good that I know were doing for the environment. It saves on the bottom line, which is what most business owners are probably going to care about, and because so many consumers are environmentally aware or conscious, they don’t mind it. The bottom line is if you can, you should - there's no reason not to. So many people are already using reusable bags or are open to it. Now is probably the time, we’ve seen no negative impacts. Our customers have been really open to it.”

Efforts like those made by Once Upon a Child illustrate the ability of local businesses to lead by example and set a precedent within the community that being environmentally conscious is a priority for Springfield consumers. The capability of businesses to succeed in plastic-free initiatives depends upon the support of consumers and the surrounding community.

Once Upon a Child is a children’s clothing store located at 1421 S Glenstone Ave in Springfield, Mo. They are open daily from 9am-8pm, 12-6pm on Sundays, and can be reached at (417) 886–1853.

Written By:

Laiken Cash

Environmental Intern 
Environmental Services Department
[email protected]
209 E. Central St., Springfield, MO 65802

Mar 27

EnviroFlick “A Plastic Ocean” inspires family to get involved.

Posted on March 27, 2023 at 9:42 AM by Rachel Douglas

Improving Our Community_v3

EnviroFlick “A Plastic Ocean” inspires family to get involved

I want to share the impact the movie “A Plastic Ocean” had on my daughter and myself.

We attended Environmental Services’ EnviroFlick screening of the movie and enjoyed it very much. My daughter is ten and is involved in her school’s Nature Nerd Club. She has been learning about gardening, butterflies and birds. She has absorbed every ounce of education that has been presented to her and has her own bird feeding stations at home now. She plans to create a butterfly garden this spring.

“A Plastic Ocean” had a big impact on her due to her love of nature and birds, especially. Seeing all the plastic in the birds in the film made her want to do something. We talked on the way home from the movie about what we could do. I asked if she had noticed all the trash along the sides of the roads by our house and on the way to school. She said she had and asked if we could pick it up. So, that’s exactly what we did.


We have cleaned up about a half mile alongside the road near our home which happens to be close to the James River. We’ve talked about how this will help the river stay clean and keep the trash away from nature, especially the birds.

I just wanted to share our little story about how the movie had an impact on us that night. We were motivated to do something to help. We plan to keep our rights-of-way clean near our home and cleanup more areas as time allows.

Written By:

Mollie Jessen

Office Administrator
Environmental Services Department
[email protected]
840 N Booneville Ave., Springfield, MO 65802

Mar 21

NACWA Public Service Award - COVID Sewershed Surveillance Project

Posted on March 21, 2023 at 3:42 PM by Rachel Douglas

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NACWA Public Service Award - COVID Sewershed Surveillance Project

The City of Springfield has been recognized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) with a National Environmental Achievement Award for Public Service. The award was recently presented at NACWA’s annual conference and I was on hand to accept the award. The Public Service Award recognized the City’s leadership in developing a pilot program to test wastewater for indicators of COVID presence within the community.


The concept of testing human waste streams for information that can inform local health strategies has been under development for some time. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services were interested in expanding the concept to determine if certain bio-markers, shed by people who had contacted COVID, could be used to develop estimates of COVID cases within the community. The concept proved to be successful and the information derived from sewershed surveillance was helpful to health officials in fighting the COVID pandemic.

The wastewater testing results were determined to be a leading indicator, by about 5-7 days, of subsequent case load, since the bio-markers began to be produced and shed before the onset of COVID symptoms in an individual. This provided health professionals and hospitals a planning tool as to what they would soon be experiencing. Additionally, the testing provided an indication of quantity and trend in total COVID cases (including those experienced by individuals that did not get tested and thus were not included in the records of official cases).

As COVID cases were flourishing in 2020, the state reached out to Springfield, along with St. Louis and Kansas City, for help in developing a pilot sewershed surveillance program. Springfield was already experimenting with testing wastewater for this purpose and quickly agreed to join the state’s initiative. The pilot proved so successful that the program, once refined, was expanded to include approximately 100 communities and wastewater districts around the state. Much more information on Missouri’s Sewershed Surveillance Project can be found at https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/f7f5492486114da6b5d6fdc07f81aacf .

NACWA is a recognized leader on the full spectrum of clean water issues. The organization represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide. The Member Agency Public Service Award is given to member agencies for their significant local, state, or national voluntary public service related to public utility operation or environmental protection. This year’s Member Agency Public Service Award went to the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District, the City of Springfield, and Kansas City Water for their collective work in helping to successfully pilot a sewershed surveillance project for the state of Missouri.

Ron Petering Portrait

Written By:

Ron Petering

Assistant Director

Environmental Services


[email protected]

755 N. Franklin Avenue, Springfield, MO 65802