Did you know small changes in your daily routines can make a huge difference to your health, the health of your neighbors and the future of the planet? Choose from among these simple steps and start today. (Adapted from the California Air Resources Board’s “Simple Solutions to Help Reduce Air Pollution”)
When you run errands or travel …
- Walk or ride a bike.
- Take public transportation.
- Organize errands into one trip.
- When driving, accelerate gradually and drive at lower speeds.
- Drive less, particularly on days with unhealthy air.
- Maintain your vehicle and keep your tires properly inflated.
- If there is an emissions check program in your area, get your car checked.
- Travel lightly and avoid weighing down your vehicle.
- Try not to idle your vehicle more than 30 seconds.
- If you are buying a new car, go for the most efficient, lowest-polluting vehicle.
When you are at home …
What we do at home makes a big impact on air quality. Consuming less energy helps reduce air pollution, as does choosing sustainable, recyclable products. Limit use of chemicals that contribute to smog.
Did you know that detergents, cleaning compounds, glues, polishes and even cosmetics, perfume and deodorants contribute to smog? Such items contain volatile chemicals that evaporate readily. When the sun shines, they combine with other pollutants to form ozone, a primary component of smog that is bad for our health.
- Turn the lights off when you leave a room.
- Replace energy-hungry incandescent lights with energy-saving CFLs or LEDs.
- If alternative energy sources such as solar or wind are available, use them.
- Limit use of heaters and air conditioners.
- Install low-flow shower heads.
- Recycle paper, plastic and organic materials.
- Use nonpolluting stoves. Avoid using kerosene to cook, heat or provide light.
- Wash laundry in cold water and line dry.
- Buy energy-efficient appliances.
- Use washable dishes, utensils and napkins rather than disposable plastic dinnerware.
- Choose products made from recycled materials or sustainable sources such as bamboo, hemp and coconut fiber.
- Use durable, reusable shopping bags, not disposable plastic bags.
- Paint with a brush instead of a sprayer.
- Store all solvents in airtight containers.
- Use an electric or push lawn mower, and a rake instead of a leaf blower.
- Eliminate use of toxic chemicals at home; opt for natural substitutes.
- Plant a tree to help purify the air.
When you are at work …
- Use natural light during the day.
- Keep the thermostat at energy-saving settings.
- Work from home if possible.
- If you work in an office, start a recycling program. Print and photocopy on both sides of paper, and only print when necessary.
- Turn off office equipment (i.e., computers, printers and fax machines) after hours.
When you are in your community …
- Support efforts to “green” the neighborhood.
- Start an environmental program yourself.
- Let your elected representatives know you support action for cleaner air.