Air pollution is one of the major environmental issues facing humanity. It’s closely related to climate change and high levels of air pollution are causing health issues from asthma to lung diseases.
On a global level, it’s difficult to make changes with a big impact on the main causes of air pollution such as industrial manufacturing. However, closer to home, you can help to effect change.
In London, home to Smart Separations Ltd, it’s argued that the biggest cause of air pollution isn’t vehicle emissions or industrial pollution, as you would expect, but tyre and brake wear. And while it’s easy to become absorbed by the bigger picture, air pollution levels vary hugely within a small distance.
Still looking at London, we can see that within a two-mile span air pollution levels can double. Your actions can therefore have a significant impact on the air quality around your home and the local area.
At Smart Separations, we want to help everyone from individuals to globe-spanning companies in reducing how much air pollution they create. In this post, we’re looking at 11 things everyone can do to start reducing air pollution. Whether that’s reducing air pollution at the source or making the air you breathe every day a little bit cleaner, change is at your disposal.
1. Conserve energy
In much of the World, the two main sources of energy supplied to your home or at work will be gas or coal-fired power stations. These are a big source of air pollutants and even cleaner sources of energy such as nuclear and renewable energies can produce some air pollution.
The best way to help reduce this source of pollution is to conserve your energy usage. Some potential ways to do this include walking or taking public transport, using energy efficient light bulbs and heating, insulating your home and being mindful of unnecessary energy usage.
Even just remembering to turn lights off when you’re not using them can add up to considerable energy conservation.
2. Use fewer air sprays
In previous decades, one of our biggest environmental concerns was the depletion of our ozone layer and CFCs were one of the main causes. Moving away from CFCs in products such as aerosol sprays has allowed us to successfully begin healing the ozone layer.
However, that doesn’t mean modern aerosol sprays are now fine for the environment.
Deodorants and cleaning sprays are a big source of Volatile Organic Compounds. These can contribute to pollution inside and outside the home and swapping them for cleaner, non-spray alternatives is often a simple way to help the environment.
3. Eat Sustainably
Whether it’s during production or transportation, your food can be a big source of air pollution in the form of chemical sprays, CO2 from livestock and environmental destruction.
Meat and dairy are arguably the biggest sources of air pollution from our diet, but any foods that need to be imported from far away have a considerable carbon footprint and certain crops such as soybean and palm oil can cause serious deforestation.
You might not be able to commit to completely forgoing these products, but consider being more resourceful with the animal products you do use, choose sustainable products where possible and try to buy produce that is in season and has been produced locally.
4. Be a careful driver
Not all of us can rely on walking, bicycles or public transport, but with traffic emissions and tyre wear being such a big pollutant in cities, there are ways in which you can be a more mindful driver.
To begin with, make sure you have a well-maintained vehicle. Get your car serviced, make repairs as soon as possible, use the right fuel and oil types for your vehicle and have the correct pressure for your tyres.
When driving, avoid speeding, drive calmly, keep the use of electronics minimal and turn off your engine instead of idling in traffic. Your goal is to keep your fuel usage as low as possible.
Generally, consider how you can reduce the use of your car, take efficient driving routes wherever possible and avoid carrying too much weight in your car. Consider carpooling, plan out shopping trips carefully and make sure you’re getting the most out of your local public transport network.
5. Research your energy company
If you live in the UK, then you have a large choice of energy providers. All energy providers have different sources for their energy whether it be gas, coal, nuclear or renewables.
To help promote cleaner energy and move away from fossil fuels you can research the ‘fuel mix’ of different companies to see how much they rely on renewables. Finding out the ‘fuel mix’ of a company is as simple as searching “[energy company name] fuel mix” in Google.
Clean energy is getting cheaper and several companies are committed to using 100% renewable energies and frack-free animal-friendly gas sources. Switching not only helps reduce pollution, it also encourages the growth of clean energy companies.
6. Use electronics sustainably
One of the easiest ways to conserve energy is to take a more sustainable approach to your electronics.
Buy devices with good energy efficiency, use eco-friendly settings on washing machines or dishwashers and where possible, switch off electronics at the wall to reduce standby electricity usage.
7. Take recycling to the next level
Household waste can contribute to air pollution by requiring fuel to transport it, by contributing to the environmental footprint of a landfill and from the energy used to create and recycle packaging.
By now, most of us know about avoiding single-use plastic such as carrier bags, how to recycle some household waste, and how we can begin composting food waste at home. However, it’s possible to take this to the next level and dramatically reduce your household waste.
Grow your own produce, start having your milk delivered in bottles, take your own containers to the supermarket, make carbonated drinks at home and so on. Try to see how close to zero household waste you can get.
8. Surround yourself with plants
Plants are natural air filters and they are a non-intrusive way to improve your own air quality. Indoors, you might want to consider palms, ferns and lilies to reduce common pollutants in your home.
Outdoors, the impact of your plants may not be felt as strongly but improving the air quality in your garden and large gardens can help to mildly reduce the pollution from nearby cars. Good choices include ivy and many common perennial herb plants, as well as trees such as ash and elm trees if you have long term gardening plans.
Bees are another victim of air pollution and they are essential for maintaining the ecosystem that naturally keeps the air clean. Consider planting bee-friendly plants such as lavender and bluebells or even forgoing mowing your lawn entirely.
9. Reward ethical companies
Knowing which companies are truly eco-friendly is difficult and you can’t realistically vet every product and service you use. However, you can become a more informed consumer and pay attention to which companies are trying to make a difference.
Look for eco-friendly packaging, sustainably sourced ingredients, responsible farming methods and pay attention to products that can reduce waste, such as reusable nappies. When you find a company who is trying to help the environment, recommend them to friends and ask supermarkets to stock them if they aren’t already.
You might be worth over £2,000 a year to your local supermarket – don’t undervalue the power of your spending.
10. Maintain and upgrade your gadgets and devices
Over time, many of the gadgets, electronics and devices you use can start to be less efficient and could benefit from maintenance and upgrades. This might be as simple as cleaning out dust from fans and computers to replace batteries to help conserve energy.
Upgrades you might consider include solar panelling for lighting or smaller electronics, energy saving power-sockets or shower heads that will help you to use less hot water. At Smart Separations, we’re developing a microfilter that can help to improve the efficiency of filtration throughout your home.
11. Get talking
All of these steps are important in helping to reduce air pollution, but to really make a difference we all need to work together.
It’s tempting to blame large organisations or countries that have a less than ideal record when it comes to air pollution, but we have a lot of control over our local environment and we all contribute to the global environment, directly or indirectly.
Get involved with local environmental efforts, write to your local and national representation to champion eco-friendly causes and don’t become complacent about your impact on air pollution.
Helping to reduce air pollution
The problems of air pollution and climate change may seem overwhelming, but there are many small steps you can take that can have a big impact on your own air supply and how your community works to tackle air pollution.
Not only do many of these ideas and activities help the environment, but they can also help to make your home more cost-effective and create a healthier, cleaner space for you to live in.
If you’d like to find out more on how Smart Separations is helping to reduce air pollution or to discover more about the potential of our filtration platform, then please get in touch today.