Saturdays with Shavara
What's in the Air?
Greetings green friends and thank you for joining me for another Saturday! I was reflecting back to the love that was in the air a few weeks back as we celebrated Valentine’s Day, and I couldn’t help but think what else may be in the air… and BOOM inspiration for this post hit me. The topic for this post is that of the concerns both for the environment and our health surrounding air pollution. I’ve touched on this topic somewhat in the past in a more indirect way, but the time is now to really hone in on the cause, impacts, and what we can do about air pollution as a central topic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds the organizations guidelines, with low and middles income countries suffering from the highest exposures of air pollution. Breathing in polluted air is incredibly bad for our health and even more so when it’s happening long-term, which can lead to diseases of the heart, lungs, cancers and other health problems. Air pollution is caused by both solid and liquid particles along with certain gases being suspended in the air. That is not to say that there hasn’t been great progress made to achieving a national air quality standard, which the EPA established back in 1971. Air pollution is one of those environmental issues where there is always work to be done. There is evidence of the work we still need to do simply in the statistic that as of 2016 it was reported by WHO that 91% of the world population was still living in areas where air quality standards were not being met.
I will be the first to admit that to say that as individuals we have what it takes to resolve air quality issues alone would be untrue, but even though our role is somewhat small in comparison of large companies there is still work to be done on both sides. For the necessary changes to occur regarding air pollution on a large scale we need policies that support cleaner transportation efforts, energy-efficient homes to become the norm and improvements made to our municipal waste management, all are key sources of outdoor air pollution. On an individual level we can make changes within our homes and transportation practices to lower our carbon footprint. When it comes to our homes it is important to minimize the amount of unnecessary energy use with one step being knowing where your home falls on the spectrum of energy use. Asking your energy supplier for a home audit (I had no clue they did this, but they in fact do!) allows you to inquire about alternative energy solutions like wind or solar power depending on what’s available in your area. The consumer purchase power can impact manufactures in a big way, honestly there is a greater likelihood that industry practices change as a result of consumer demand, or lack thereof than their own natural environmental consciousness. When more people buy products that have a smaller carbon footprint, it tells companies to make more of that type of product. When you choose to shop responsibly opting to purchase water-based cleaning products, water-based paint and avoiding aerosol spray products you are also supporting products that are doing their part to reduce air pollution.
Covid-19 has also shown us that we can do more from home, that teleconference and zoom conferences are effective and that driving into an office five days a week doesn’t have to be the only way we productively get work done. By driving less, we greatly reduce the carbon emissions that go into the atmosphere. Walking or riding your bike means less people on the roads, while walking or carpooling to pick your kids up from school helps lessen those long periods of idling during school pick up time. We can also avoid driving on days with unhealthy air quality advisories to not add to the problem. Our friends over at the Oklahoma Department of Quality issue advisories on days of poor air quality along with most weather apps. If walking is something you would do more of in your community but can’t because of street conditions advocate for your community to make streets safer like adding sidewalks to promote more walking and bicycling. Between our individual efforts and advocacy for global leaders to require companies to minimize their carbon foot print we can continue to improve air pollution, so that future generations can breathe easy knowing we took the steps today to make their tomorrow healthier and safer. I will leave you here green folks! As always Reduce, Reuse and Recycle responsibly and often.
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