Happy Clean Air Day! Today, June 20th, is a day dedicated to the importance of keeping our air clean and healthy.
All around us air pollution is having a significant negative effect, damaging both us and the planet. This becomes even more apparent in cities – in London, where we’re based, 1 in 5 schools are suffering from air pollution past the legal limits. These high levels of air pollution risk causing lifelong health problems to thousands of children.
What can we do?
We have asked our members to come together and share their stories on clean air and what it means to them. From stories of their personal experiences with air pollution, to tips on how to look after our air, we are lucky to be able to share so much knowledge on how to look after our planet.
Francesca of Ethical Unicorn
“Switch your bank account! We need large scale systemic change when it comes to pollution, and banks are major investors in fossil fuel companies using the money from our accounts. Instead, take your money out of those investments and place them in banks that fund renewable projects.”
Read more from Francesca in her guide to ethical finance.
Danielle of Wonder Mamas
“I lived in Hawaii for 5 years and had a slight addiction to boredom driving. If it was raining on my side of the island, I would hop in my jeep and just drive to the other side. I would drive if I was bored or even just to sightsee. It never once occurred to me to take the bus or even cycle…driving was a habit. Fast forward 9 years and here I am today….3 years living in Italy and I have not driven a vehicle once.
I left Hawaii on that 5th year and traveled to Southeast Asia for a fun solo adventure. The fun turned pretty serious right off the bat when I was faced with some hard truths of what has happened to our World. I had been living in a paradise bubble for so long that I missed it.
I ended up moving to Italy at the end of that solo adventure and made a pact to rid myself of my vehicle addiction. I had gone 1 year without driving in Asia, so I was sure I could continue on. It has been 3 years since that decision and I have yet to drive any vehicle.
I am the mother of identical twin boys and we bike, bus, train or simply walk everywhere. My bike stroller was the best investment we ever made; I fill her up with groceries all the time! My sons are only 2 years old and know how to take all modes of transportation without any issues whatsoever.
Forgoing the vehicle is not always the easiest choice, and sometimes I wish I had my jeep back to make it up this mountain or to fill up my backseat with groceries…but it always passes and I’m always thankful that I chose this “vehicle free” route.
I am stronger than ever before; both physically and mentally. This one decision transformed our entire family into minimalists who choose to fight for our Earth every single day!”
Karen of Cycle Sprog
“More and more families are swapping their car for cycling the school run. If you have young children then there are various options for transporting them to school or nursery, including cargo bikes, trailers, tagalongs and bike seats.
Older children are capable of cycling to school themselves which gives them independence as well as a way of keeping physically fit. However, cycling to school needs to be safe. If you don’t have cycle paths segregated from traffic it is really important to make your local councillors and MP aware of the importance of safe cycling infrastructure.
By adding your voice to the growing number of people demanding the right to cycle safely you are helping to prove that our roads need to be designed for people, not motor vehicles and that air quality and safety need to be prioritised urgently.”
Julia of What A Waste Collective
“I live in a small village now so less need for a car, but have always cycled to work or taken public transport. It’s a great mood booster when you are pedalling along and it helps you declutter your mind on the way home. My son and I walk to school – rain or shine and I utilise car sharing for longer journeys when needed.”
Lauren of Inspire Create Educate
“My two biggest tips are:
1. To switch to renewables (making sure it’s a genuine 100% renewable provider and not offsets or similar)
2. To leave the car at home as much as is possible. Switching electricity provider takes 10 minutes once you know who you’re switching to, and leaving the car at home gives you the added benefits of getting fitter and spending time outside.”
Karen of N4Mummy
“We live right by a big road junction in North London. It gives me the heebie-jeebies on a daily basis, from the pollution my two kids breathe in to the danger of crossing huge roads with a 2 and 4 year old! One solution would be to drive to school. But that would only contribute to the problem.
Also, I think the daily habits I make, influence the choices my kids will make in the future, so each day we walk to school. It’s made them both more road savvy at an early age and good walkers! I try and counteract all this pollution with lots of fresh air in the countryside at weekends.”
Laura of Better Planet Project
“I recently moved to a downtown apartment that’s MUCH closer to my work, restaurants, stores, and pretty much everything else. Now that I can walk or bike everywhere, I’ve hardly needed a car at all! The rent is a little higher than my old place, but I’m also saving the time and money I used to spend on my commute, plus I’m reducing my carbon footprint and creating less air pollution!”
Kristina of Earthy Girl
“Currently, I’m traveling around Vietnam and for the last month, I’ve been staying in Hanoi. Hanoi itself is a great city but what really bothers me is the extreme air pollution. The air pollution here is the second worst in South East Asia right after Yogyakarta in Indonesia.
You can see people burning their trash on the streets (plastics included) and of course, millions of motorbikes everywhere. First, I tried to cycle everywhere but then I gave it up very quickly as it started to affect my health. There were days when I had massive pain in my lungs and only the simple process of normal breathing was very painful. It felt like if I just smoked a whole package of cigarettes. I was quite worried so immediately I bought a mask with the proper filters that clean the air for you and put some mint essential oil into it.
This helped me a lot and since then I don’t go out unless I have my mask on. In Hanoi, it’s very difficult to try to keep the air clean with everything that’s going on. Cycling is obviously very unhealthy here, walking is a bit dangerous with the crazy traffic and no sidewalks for pedestrians.
Fortunately, I stay in a nice suburb and I don’t need to go far every time I need something or want to hang out. If I do need to go far I’ll just join someone on his motorbike and at least it’s more of us on one bike. Usually, it’s around three people, the Vietnamese style, haha. We save the environment (at least a little), money, don’t risk our health and experience the local culture 100%.”
Besma of Curiously Conscious
“For Clean Air Day, I’ve taken a slightly different approach and looked at the smelly chemicals used in hair dye. I frequently dye my hair, and had yet to come across a natural, odourless option that really works – until now.
I was delighted to try out a new H2O dye that’s vegan, cruelty-free, and natural at my hairdressers, and am so happy with the results. The formula is better for the environment (especially as regular dye gets washed down the drain and can be an issue for marine life) and also better for my skin and hair too.”
You can read more over on Besma’s blog.