Air pollution has been in the news a lot recently – it’s damaging our lungs, hearts and the health of our children. Air pollution is an issue all over the UK, which is why Global Action Plan formed a collective of local councils, charities and universities to coordinate the first ever National Clean Air Day on 15 June. But what can you do to help? Abi Aldridge, from Global Action Plan, shares her top tips for reducing air pollution.
Use your feet, take to the street
The most common cause of air pollution in U.K. cities is diesel vehicles, so one of the best ways you can reduce the amount of air pollution you make is to leave your car at home. Walking, cycling, getting public transport – there are loads of alternatives to driving. Why not walk or cycle instead? This is great for local air quality, and the exercise also makes it great for your health!
Switch your engine off when stationary
Not ready to leave your car at home just yet? If you are driving, make sure you switch off your engine when you’re pulled over or not moving (and it’s safe for you to do so). People have a tendency to leave their engine running ‘so that the radio stays on’ and ‘the A/C doesn’t turn off’ – we see this a lot during school drop offs or at taxi ranks. Turning off your engine is a simple way to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.
Drive into the future
Last year, more than 80,000 people in the U.K. bought low polluting cars. Next time your car is due an upgrade consider buying an electric or hybrid vehicle. (Or if you have to use a petrol or diesel car you should speak to a car dealer about the least polluting models). A lot of these low polluting vehicles have much cheaper road tax and they look pretty cool too – have you seen the new Tesla?!
Make the courier do the carrying
If you don’t drive you may think there’s not much you can do to reduce air pollution, but that’s not true! Many workplaces say that hundreds of personal parcels arrive for staff each day. Getting your new dress, shoes or book delivered to a local pickup point will reduce the number of vans doing city centre deliveries, cutting congestion and pollution. Using pick up points in corner shops or lockers in train stations close to home will save you the hassle of carrying your parcel all the way home from work (added bonus!).
Think of the kids
A little known fact is that pollution builds up inside vehicles and can reach higher levels than the pollution you inhale in the open air. This means children being driven to school can be exposed to more pollution than those walking, cycling or scootering. The school run is part of a finely tuned routine, and walking the kids to school yourself might not be possible. But if parents get together, more possibilities open up, like setting up a ‘walking bus’. It also helps the kids get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day.
For more advice on how to reduce air pollution, how to protect yourself from it, or how to get involved on National Clean Air Day, visit the website – www.cleanairday.org.uk