When people think of air pollution, smokestacks from factories, dirty exhaust from trucks, and other things they believe they have no control over often come to mind. The truth is, the average consumer does have some control, and many personal habits contribute to adverse effects on air quality. How we travel, eat, cool and power our homes, and handle our waste products impacts the air we breathe. Here are 25 ways you can have an impact on reducing air pollution.
Keep the car in shape: Regular inspections and checkups can maximize fuel efficiency, reduce emissions, and increase the operating life of a vehicle. A well-tuned car emits fewer gases and toxins into the air, which can contribute to health problems such as asthma and environmental issues like smog.
Check the tires: If the tires are not at the pressure specified by the manufacturer, then more fuel will be burned. Maintaining the tires and getting alignments when necessary will maximize the vehicle’s efficiency.
Use public transportation: The more people who take a bus or train, the fewer the cars there are on the road, and the fewer emissions there are. Another alternative is to carpool with friends or co-workers.
Take a walk: Walking to your destination, when the distance is within reason, releases no carbon dioxide or noxious gases into the air. Riding a bike is just as beneficial and can improve your physical well-being.
Choose new cars wisely: Energy efficient and zero-emission cars are a great way to go green. Hybrid vehicles don’t pollute the atmosphere as much as older models do, and function just the same or better.
Turn the lights off: The power plants that supply electricity use fossil fuels, which are a major component of air pollution. By turning off lights when leaving a room, you can save a lot of energy and reduce electricity demand, which has a rippling effect.
Get efficient bulbs: Compact fluorescent and even LED bulbs use much less power than traditional types. They also tend to last longer than incandescent light bulbs
Use Fans: Air conditioners are notorious electricity consumers. Using a fan instead or combining it with an AC at a more efficient setting can conserve energy.
Cover up under a blanket: In cold weather, sleep under a heavier blanket or wear extra layers of clothing instead of using more energy-hogging heat.
Insulate the home: Sufficient insulation reduces the amount of energy needed to maintain comfort levels and therefore helps reduce air pollution.
Bypass the dryer: Clothes dryers waste a lot of energy. Instead, hang the laundry on a clothesline so they’ll dry naturally without consuming unnecessary amounts of energy that can help pollute the air.
Install surge protectors: These devices are great for protecting appliances and devices; they can also be turned off, cutting power to all the products connected to them – lots of energy can be saved.
Bags: The production of paper bags creates more air pollution than plastic, and contributes a high volume of solid waste to the environment. You can help by reusing them; although producing plastic bags is cleaner, they decompose slowly or not at all, so should be avoided.
Grow food: Backyards can be utilized in many ways, and growing fruits and vegetables helps cut air pollution because you don’t use fuel by traveling. You also have healthy items from the garden and save on expenses at the grocery store.
Work at home: From travel to consumption of resources at the office, working at home can reduce air pollution. Email, video conferencing, and cloud computing have made it possible to get the same tasks done, so pitch this to your employer as an eco-friendly proposition.
As a Consumer
Eat organic: Locally produced vegetables and meats are easy to find in many places. Purchasing these means fewer miles must be traveled by delivery trucks, limiting air pollutants, but also helping the local economy.
Buy products with recycled materials: This helps reduce raw materials consumption. Many stores stock items with a recycle logo, and the label may also indicate at least some of its contents are recycled.
Shop for ENERGY STAR: Air conditioners and other electronic products with the ENERGY STAR label have been tested to ensure they meet the latest standards for energy savings.
Water-based paints and cleaners: Chemical based paints/cleaning products have volatile organic compounds that contaminate the air. Switching to water-based products helps reduce air pollution and limit the need for oil products.
Use rechargeable batteries: A few of these and a charger are not that expensive. Plus, you don’t have to keep throwing out batteries, which contributes to landfills and processes that pollute the air; you also don’t have to keep buying new batteries.
Use green energy: Purchase solar panels, power derived from the wind, or even hydropower. You can reduce the demand on the power grid, save energy and cash, and reduce the strain on the environment from fossil fuels; also, in many places, there are tax incentives for using renewable energy.
Improve Your Habits
**Cut or sweep the grass: **Leaf blowers and lawn mowers consume fuel and emit pollutants into the air. By using manual methods to cut the grass and care for the lawn with a broom or rake, you can contribute to better air quality over the long term.
[caption id=”attachment_235” align=”aligncenter” width=”700”] New York City, October 2015, Manhattan[/caption]
**Stop smoking cigarettes: **Smoking is a major contributor to indoor air pollution, but quitting can avoid this problem and the health effects it can cause.
Use cold water: Cold water and detergent will get your laundry clean. Avoiding hot water means the heater won’t consume the extra fuel that releases emissions into the environment.
Be an advocate: Start or join a local environmental group and participate in activities that focus on sustainability and reducing air pollution. If you have concerns about clean air, address these with local representatives or even government officials. Being vocal is a powerful tool, as is using all of these methods to help reduce air pollution.