In June every year we recognise Clean Air Day. But the negative impact of air pollution affects us all year round.
By now, chances are you are aware of the numerous health hazards that air pollution poses for us and our children. For any Londoners, the following findings from King’s College research certainly shed some light on the scale of the problem: a normal day’s exposure to nitrogen oxides in London is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes!
But we can all make a difference – we can reduce air pollution levels by combating the current ‘climate crisis’. The cause of global climate change – the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – is also a key contributor to air pollution. To improve air quality, we need to address the obvious pollutant sources, such as diesel vehicle hotspots, but also focus on reducing global greenhouse gas levels. This requires a holistic approach that looks beyond our direct fossil fuel use from daily use of electricity or gas. For example, even reducing our fast fashion habits is vital in tackling both climate change and air pollution, as textile production creates an estimated 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 annually – more than international flights and maritime shipping combined. And not to mention the further environmental impact of the chemicals released during textile dying and bleaching processes.
Simultaneously, we need to protect the earth’s ‘lungs’ that help to partially reverse our damage – protecting our forests, mangroves, soil, and crucially the coastal seas, as surprisingly sea grass absorbs 35 times more carbon dioxide than the same area of rainforest. This requires a joint industry and government approach, but there are also plenty of ways that we can individually contribute to better air quality. Some examples include regularly servicing boilers, avoiding use of open fires/stoves, and switching off engines when vehicles are not moving. Also bearing in mind the link between climate crisis and air pollution – consuming less energy means producing less pollution. There are many ways for us to improve air quality, and make the environment in which we live healthier. Let’s all pledge on this day to adopt an action to improve air quality!
At Considerate, apart from helping hospitality businesses around the world to reduce their emissions, we are also tackling air pollution locally, in our neighbourhood. Together with PaddingtonNow BID we launched an innovative project aimed at reducing air pollution from eight local hotels in the Paddington area of London. As part of this we will be delivering a workshop for the participating sites, providing them with actions on how they can reduce their site’s contribution to air pollution.