The facts alone are enough to take your breath away. Air pollution contributes to 40,000 premature deaths annually and – incredibly – London’s air pollution fell within legal limits for the first time in a decade last year. No wonder that organisations such as Clean Air in London are agitating for it to be taken seriously as a human right. But while the climate crisis can feel overwhelming, a few small changes are all it takes to support your neighbourhood’s air quality. Read on for our five tips to beat the smog.
1. Join in a car-free day
This year marked London’s largest ever Car Free Day as 20km of the capital’s roads were closed on 22 September, from 10.30am to 5pm. Why not try it for yourself – grab the skate board, roller skates or bicycle, and leave your car at home. London is dedicated to promoting regular car-free days, so stay tuned to @carfreedayLDN for more.
2. Make a statement
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has shown us that you don’t have to be in power to be powerful. Whether you want to stage a protest, support a campaign or simply persuade your HR department to consider a carbon neutral taxi company, you can use your words and actions to draw attention to the cause. Choosing to commute by bike or on foot? You could start a chain effect by sharing your eco decision on social media, inspiring others in your network to do the same.
3. Use the roads responsibly
We all know how it happens. You’re stuck in a traffic jam, or waiting to pick up a friend, and you leave your engine running because – well – it’s just easier, isn’t it? The fact is, it’s illegal to run your engine while you’re parked up, with instant fines potentially in the pipeline. It’s not just about protecting the lungs of pedestrians either, since pollution is actually higher inside your car. So, do yourself and your fuel levels a favour and switch it off – or leave your car at home completely for short trips.
4. Give plants a chance
If your neighbourhood offers nothing but grey buildings and even greyer air, it’s time to ferret out – or create – a local community garden. While green space may be at a premium in the city, developers are doing their level best to introduce more plants through green walls and roofs, which remove CO2 and filter out some pollutant particles. Utrecht in Holland has taken this a step further and planted specific bee-friendly plants on its bus stops, supporting biodiversity and drawing attention to its public transport system. Making better use of public transport – and ensuring cars are always used to capacity – ultimately means fewer vehicles and less pollution. That’s why Gett utilises cars on the road, rather than adding more.
5. Stay in touch with the tech
Learning more about your local air quality can help you to be more mindful in your actions, as well as reminding you to take precautions if you are particularly sensitive to pollution. Check out the Pollution app for a steer on the air quality in your area, as well updates on other pollutants. You can also look out for a new project recently developed as part of the Amazon ‘Change for Good’ hackathon in Cannes: slated to go live in autumn, the winning product allows people to photograph a landmark and find out the air quality, using analysis of the light refraction. All sound a bit too high-tech for you? Keep it simple and make a smart decision next time you buy a new car. The government has pledged to phase out diesel and petrol cars by 2040, so you might as well switch to leaner, greener electric vehicles now. Gett is already helping by rolling out hybrid taxis, such as its new TXE hybrid black cabs, across the country, if you fancy trying one out.
For more about Gett’s commitment to carbon neutrality – or to download the app – click here.
Image credits: iStock, Getty Images