Air pollution is one of the most common and obvious forms of harm to the planet. We see and smell it when cars and trucks drive by us, we notice a huge black cloud over the local factory, and we see smoke wisp off of cigarettes into the air as people smoke them on the street. Thankfully, there are very real and simple ways for you to personally take action to reduce air pollution.
While your personal actions may not make a huge impact on the total air pollution being created, every choice counts. From the moment you wake up until your head hits that pillow again, you can choose environmentally friendly options to help clean the air. Here are five great ones that you can start doing right now.
Choose Different Methods of Transportation
Getting from point A to point B is something we all have to do. But how we choose to do it makes a big difference in the amount of air pollution we create. If you’re driving a typical passenger car year-round, you’re creating about 4.6 metric tons of CO2.
By instead choosing to take public transportation, you can dramatically decrease the amount of pollution you’re contributing to. How much? Public transit contributes 95% less carbon dioxide than single-occupancy passenger vehicles.
Even better is a method of transportation that creates no direct air pollution at all. By driving an electric vehicle, biking, or walking, you’re helping to keep the air as clean as possible.
Avoid Burning Wood, Coal, And Gas
Whether you’re burning wood, coal, or gas, you’re creating air pollution that’s not only harmful to the atmosphere but to your personal health as well. The emissions created from burning these materials go into the air and settle in our lungs, rivers, soils, and even have the potential for starting a dangerous fire.
Unless you have to burn something, it’s always best to avoid it. If you’re using these items for cooking, choose an electric burner instead. If you’re using them for heat, try putting on an extra layer first. A lamp to light up the night? Stick to a flashlight.
Public transit contributes 95% less carbon dioxide than single-occupancy passenger vehicles.
Use Less Energy
While electricity feels cleaner because you’re not actively emitting greenhouse gasses while using it, the electricity had to be made somewhere. In the United States, most electricity is created in facilities that use natural gas, coal, or nuclear energy. In other words, by using electricity, you are still creating air pollution.
Even if the electricity is made from a sustainable source, it’s best to adopt a “less is more” mindset. Only use electricity when you need to. Unplug appliances when you aren’t using them. Turn off your lights when you leave your house. Buy energy-efficient options whenever you can.
Borrow And Buy Used Products
Every time something is made or manufactured, it needs energy and likely creates some air pollution. In general, it is important to consume less to keep the Earth’s natural resources plentiful and sustainable. Particularly when it comes to lessening air pollution, it’s important that you choose to borrow and buy used products instead of always buying brand new ones.
Buying something new means it had to be created just for you. It also had to be packaged and shipped. If you instead choose to give something a second life, you are not creating any more emissions. In fact, you are reducing emissions by saving these items from going to the landfill! Try borrowing from a friend or a neighbor, going to a thrift shop, or checking social media groups or Craigslist for second-hand items.
Grow Your Own Food
Similar to buying something new, buying food in the store has unforeseen greenhouse gas emissions. Not only does 1/3 of food get wasted every year, but the packaging materials and shipping cause air pollution too.
If you instead grow your own food, you’re able to not only eat fresher and cleaner but prevent the need to hit the grocery store too.
Unless you own and run a factory, the biggest daily difference you can make in air pollution is by making personal choices.
The less you consume, the less you contribute to air pollution.
Making more sustainable choices is often cheaper, just as simple, and widely available. All you have to do is be conscious in your decision-making.