Clear Air Month - What Is It And What Can We Do To Help?
Author: Esme Price
We all know that, even though we may not see it, global warming is having a significant effect on the quality of air we breathe every day. Clean Air Month is about raising awareness of air pollution, how it may be affecting us day-to-day and some of the things we can do to help prevent it from getting worse. Air pollution has been recognised by the World Health Organisation and the UK Government as the largest environmental health risk today.
What is air pollution?
Air pollution is created when fossil fuels are burnt and the fumes travel into the atmosphere, adding to greenhouse gases that affects the temperature of the Earth, or global warming. By burning materials like coal and oil, it releases carbon dioxide along with other pollutants which are affecting the quality of the air we breathe. The World Health Organisation did call it “the new tobacco” but that implies you can walk away from the fumes, with air pollutions it’s inescapable.
Clean Air Day
Clean Air Day, which falls on 15th June this year, aims to educate people about air pollution and what we can all do to help reduce it. Cleaning the quality of our air has many beneficial properties, both mentally and physically. Researchers have concluded that air pollution could be a big contributor to physical health risks including asthma, heart disease and cancers, whilst also contributing to mental health risks such as depression, anxiety and dementia.
Larissa Lockwood, Director of Clean Air at Global Action Plan, says: “Clean Air Day helps people understand their personal connection to air pollution. It inspires active participation in both behavioural and organisational changes to clean up our air. Experiencing and participating in mass action will reward and embed the desire for change, as well as showcase the demand for this change to decision-makers”
This may sound very daunting, but all is not lost yet. When it comes to making a difference, small adjustments to our lifestyles can go a long way. You never know, some of these changes may change the way you see your life, for the better.
Here are some of the simple everyday things you can do that will make a big difference to the condition of the air we breathe:
- Use public transport – we know that taking your own car everywhere is more practical; but why not take a bus, train, tube or even ride a bike? Even if you only leave your car 2 days a week it will make a huge difference. CO2 emissions from cars make up 13% of the UK’s total and are set to rise to 35% in 2030. Maybe have a go at lift sharing.
- Turn off lights -it’s quite self-explanatory but an important one. Why does every room in the house need to have a light on if you’re not using it? Also switching to energy saving LED light bulbs to help the environment.
- Recycle and Reuse – this one has endless possibilities. It takes 1 millisecond to decide whether your milk carton goes in the normal or recycling bin, hopefully in the future you’ll choose recycling. When it comes to reusing- refill handwashes, use reusable washing up scrubbers and shop at charity shops. This is a good opportunity to support smaller sustainable companies trying to make a difference with their sustainable replacement items.
- Don’t buy plastic bags – don’t pay the 30p, just don’t do it! There are so many aesthetic, reusable totes and shopping bags you can use.
- Rethink Your Christmas Traditions – Christmas may be a while away, but crackers are big contributors to landfill. So why not hand make little gifts for your guests on festive occasions. Ideas from flower seed bags to handmade place cards (make sure to recycle after use) or small table games.
- Encourage planting trees – Organise a day with your friends and family planting trees. Volunteer for The Woodland Trust. It gets everyone out, moving and helping the environment; and you never know, you might enjoy it.
The main points to take away would be that if we all make these small changes in our lives, we can make a difference. The Department for Transport said we could see a 60% CO2 reduction in the UK’s travel sector if we all try and make changes in the way we travel. Hopefully soon, with everyone’s help, we will be able to say ‘enjoy the fresh air’ and it be true.
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Small, conscious choices can make a significant impact, leading to a healthier, more sustainable future for us all.