The focus of this year’s World Environment Day is taking action to #BeatAirPollution. As air pollution continues to get worse and worse in many parts of the world, it is important we take action and make changes geared towards reducing our environmental impact.
Before we go into the actions you can take, today and every day, in honor of World Environment, let’s go over some the main sources of air pollution.
Sources of Air Pollution
While there are natural sources of air pollution, such as dust storms, volcanic eruptions, fog, salt spray, fires and more, air pollution also comes from numerous man-made sources. These include, but are not limited to:
Agriculture: Livestock are a key contributor of methane gas emissions. So much so, farmers are looking to change cow’s diets in an effort to lower emissions and help save the environment.
Household: Burning fossil fuels, wood and other types of fuel to generate heat, energy and lights causes a significant amount of indoor air pollution in the home. Other contributors of poor air quality in homes are store-bought air fresheners, aerosols, chemical-laden carpets and furniture, as well as high VOC paints.
Industry: Coal-burning power plants, use of non-renewable energy sources, diesel generators, mining, industrial solvents and chemicals are some of the main causes of air pollution. Switching to renewable energy would make a big difference in countries around the globe.
Transportation: Motor vehicles, both those for personal use and those for commercial purposes, are a key contributor to air pollution levels in any given city. In fact, according to the EPA, the transportation sector is responsible for 55% of NOx (nitrogen oxides) total emissions inventory in the United States.
Waste: It is estimated around 40% of global waste is burned. When this occurs, harmful toxins are released into the air. Even organic waste, just sitting around in landfills, lets off methane and other harmful chemicals. Figuring out how to better sort waste, and lessen the amount of waste we generate, is an important move. We don’t need a Wall-E world, right?
Air Pollution’s Link to Health and Well-Being
Air pollution has been linked to heart disease, respiratory infections, asthma, death and more. According to Livestrong and the World Health Organization (WHO), “more than two million die prematurely each year due to the effects of poor air quality.” In addition, “Mortality rates increase by 0.3 percent each day for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in pollution or smog within a region.”
Here’s a short video to get a little better idea about how air pollution impacts your body:
Needless to say, doing what we can to beat air pollution is extremely important. This is true, both on a personal level, as well as on a city, state, country and global level. The quality of life for our future, and the future of our children, depends on it.
What You Can Do to Help Beat Air Pollution
Fortunately, there are actions each and every one of us can take on a daily and weekly basis to help beat air pollution. If you want to start small, do so. If you want to jump all in, go for it! Either way, these are seven actions you can take in honor of World Environment Day:
- Drive less, even if you have an electric or hybrid vehicle. You can opt to carpool, take public transportation, telecommute or just walk more. Whatever you do, driving less (and encouraging others to drive less) is one of the easiest ways to improve air quality.
- Tap into renewable energy whenever and wherever you can. Whether you invest in your own solar panels, or use a utility company focused on renewable energy, the world will be better off. If you’re feeling a little creative, maybe you’ll want to install a Smartflower.
- Do what you can to save energy: turn off lights in rooms not in use, unplug appliances, only use the dishwasher or washing machine when you have a full load and in non-peak hours, etc.
- Use natural, DIY cleaners and air fresheners in your home. This way your house stays clean and fresh without adding in any harmful chemicals or toxins. Use low-VOC paints when painting too.
- Add some plants to your home and office. These plants are particularly known for helping combat indoor air pollution. You should also plant trees in your yard and encourage your community to do the same.
- Although some may scoff at this idea…leaning more towards a plant-based diet is definitely on the list of things you can do to beat air pollution and live a more sustainable life.
- Consume less, waste less. When you do consume, be sure to buy reusable items instead of single- or one-use. This will result in less waste headed to the landfill. Then, if you start composting too, it’ll waste even less. Here’s a list of 100 things you can compost.
Just keep in mind, the ultimate objective and focus of World Environment Day is to beat air pollution. Any action you can take towards accomplishing that goal is a win.
It’s not just one day either. It’s today, tomorrow, the day after, and so on and so on. Pretty soon these types of actions will just become the norm.