A ir purity is among the most critical factors in one’s life when it comes to health. I previously covered the topic of reducing indoor air pollution, a problem that each of us has control over and can solve relatively quickly to ensure our homes are safe havens instead of places that damage our health. Now, I want to look at the broader topic of outdoor air pollution and what you can do to resolve it.
According to statistics, outside air pollution is in the top 5 regarding the count of deaths by risk factor. The other factors surpassing it are high blood pressure, smoking, high blood sugar, and obesity. If this data isn’t enough to convince you that we need to take measures immediately when it comes to solving air pollution outdoors, nothing is.
Indisputably, a single individual’s efforts are not as quickly seen as they are in enhancing indoor air quality. Nevertheless, without as many of us, preferably all, playing an active part in outdoor air quality, the problem won’t ever get solved. So here are the 10 changes you should make starting from now on to positively influence statistics and save our planet.
Think of trees as natural air filters because this is what they are. Aside from their role in producing oxygen, trees withdraw particulate pollutants from the air and decrease carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, dioxin, and benzene levels. Concordant to a 2020 study performed in Dublin, air quality was improved by 126% during rush hour in tree alley areas compared to urban areas without vegetation. You might only be able to plant trees in urban areas if the municipality allows it, or you volunteer when planting events occur, but you can help in other ways.
The simple gesture of planting trees and greenery on your estate goes a long way too. Aside from filtering the air and decreasing pollutants, the mighty trees will serve an extra purpose that you will directly benefit from during summer. Thanks to the shade trees provide, you will have a spot where you can relax when temperatures soar. When their shade falls on your home, it won’t feel as hot inside as it did before you planted the trees. This means you won’t need to run the AC as much to keep cool.
While exact figures vary contingent on the miles driven per year, the vehicle’s fuel, and fuel economy, an EPA report estimates that a single passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Road transportation is one of the most significant pollutants, period. And this issue is undoubtedly simplest to notice in boroughs with heavy traffic because simply inhaling the air alarms you that there’s something off.
With a few changes in your mindset and behavior when you are behind the wheel, you can reduce your personal vehicle’s impact on the environment. This is what you should start doing from now on:
Cars are a modern commodity that a lot of us cannot go without because of our commutes from home to work. But, as you can see, there are some changes you can make to reduce air contamination from your vehicle to a minimum. All it takes is changing a few driving habits.
This might only be possible sometimes, but try to avoid the car as much as you can. Instead, use community transportation for your commutes, walk, or bike to your objective. The fewer cars on the street, the better. And if you have the possibility to cut down on your number of car trips by using alternative means, you should opt for this more environmentally mindful option. Not only does this benefit air purity but your finances as well. Gas is much more expensive than a bus ticket, after all. Using the vehicle less means you won’t spend as much on servicing and repair, so you further lower personal costs.
I recommend walking or cycling to your destinations because of the associated health benefits. However, be careful when you plan your track to avoid air pollution along the road. In short, avoid areas with hefty traffic so that you won’t breathe in the discharge of vehicles. If this isn’t possible and you don’t have a viable alternative route to avoid traffic, then take public transportation because you will be better protected from pollution inside the bus, metro, or train.
According to statistics, food production constitutes one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, to fight climate change and outdoor air contamination, a key strategy is to grow your own food. Here are the two major benefits that come with this change:
Needless to say, there are other perks aside from environmental impact that you have to consider as well, namely:
As you can see, there are multiple arguments as to why you should start growing food in your garden. It is a pleasant activity from which you and the environment benefit. Not to say about the financial aspect since growing instead of buying definitely saves you a lot of money in the long run.
Maybe you live in a condo, so you don’t have the means to grow your food. Or you have a backyard where you can grow veggies and fruit but need more time to take care of a potential garden that you don’t currently have. Don’t fret; you can still make a few changes to lower air pollution created by food production. And that is by buying local, preferably organic food.
As long as you buy locally, there won’t be any considerable gas emissions related to transporting the food from farms to the store where you get them. So if you go one step further and pick organic over conventional food products, you further lower carbon footprint impact.
Meat production has significantly expanded. But the premise is supply and demand, which means that we are at fault for the current situation; there is no denying it. So if each of us were to reduce the meat we consume, production would be decreased. So, in turn, livestock production would be lower.
Sure, meat is delicious; that is why we eat it. And protein is an integral part of our diet. But while meat is an excellent protein source, it’s not the only viable option. There are quite a few vegetables that are rich in protein, too, including green peas, spinach, artichokes, avocado, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts, to name a few.
Aside from the fact that you would assist in lowering greenhouse emissions if you were to cut down on meat consumption, there is another vital aspect to consider, namely the positive impact this decision has on your health. For example, a more plant-based diet’s health benefits are decreased risk of high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Our consumption patterns have an impact on pollution at a global level. For example, American and European consumers buy gadgets produced in China for lower prices. However, environmental pollution in the regions where these products are manufactured rises catastrophically because of the high demand and poor practices in terms of production and environmental safety. Needless to say, the high transportation carbon footprint is associated with the great distance these products travel to end up in our homes.
Start to be more mindful of how, what, and where you buy from. Think twice if you need a specific product before jumping on the first occasion to acquire it. When you consider buying something new a necessity, at least try to get it from a regional business that practices sustainable manufacturing and doesn’t contaminate the air as much in the process.
Yes, it might sound strange initially, but power draw and air contamination are tightly linked. As pointed out in a 2018 study conducted by Columbia University, burning fossil fuel for energy creation is a high air pollution source since contaminants like carbon dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, mercury, and sulfur dioxide are discharged into the air in the process.
Be mindful of your energy usage to save your health and the planet. Try to save power at home, work, and while traveling as much as possible. To lessen your impact, you can improve your home’s energy efficiency, opt for fans instead of air conditioners for cooling, and operate appliances at night as much as possible and only when needed. However, most notably, you should turn to sustainable energy, like photovoltaic solar panels that discharge zero gases in the process of energy making. All of the advice I just gave you also promote reducing your living costs, so there are a lot of arguments for saving energy or switching to solar power.
You have to recycle ASAP; there’s no discussion. To help lower air contamination, you should buy as many recycled products as possible. Think of it like this: creating something from scratch is a lot more complex and wasteful than recycling a product. In the latter case, extraction and processing have already been performed, so second-time manufacturing is much less polluting and energy intensive.
Some direct benefits of recycling and shopping recycled instead of new include reduced greenhouse gases, reduced demand for power, and emptier landfills. In 2011, the U.S. composted or recycled 34.7% of the garbage, ultimately benefitting the environment since water, land, and air contamination was not as severe thanks to this positive change in how people managed their waste.
There is one issue with recycling, though. In some cases, it exacerbates air quality. This refers to the regions in the proximity of metal recycling operations where metal compounds are freed into the air, exposing citizens to cancer-causing metallic pollution. However, cooperation between municipalities and recyclers can lead to better thought-out plans to avoid situations of this sort.
It takes an army to fight a war. When the war in question is diminishing air pollution to save the planet and protect the health of its inhabitants, the stakes are high. Besides chipping in by following the guidelines I provided for improving indoor and outdoor air quality, you should also try to raise awareness. Set a good example first, and then try to initiate your family, friends, and community. The more people you convince to participate in air pollution reduction, the better, especially when it comes to outdoor air quality, where considerable efforts are required for real change to happen.
Often, people don’t even realize just how severe the issue with air pollution is, which is why they don’t actually take any action. Pleas for help would not be ignored if more folks were to be aware of their consumer habits’ effect on the environment. Small changes like buying local, planting trees, and walking instead of taking the car everywhere, if we were all to play our part, it would make a sufficiently large difference to solve the problem at hand.
Outdoor air pollution is one of our greatest enemies yet. The whole planet suffers the repercussions, and with time, matters will only worsen if we don’t start to take action. As you can see, there are quite a few changes you can make to reduce outside air pollution and make our home planet safer to live on. It might be more challenging to solve the issue than indoor air pollution since you have complete control there. Still, if more of us start doing the necessary work, we can make a tremendous difference in improving outdoor air purity. So don’t let more time go to waste, and begin actively participating in saving the planet.
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