What You Can Do to Stop Air Pollution

9/1/10 by Melissa McGovern

Photo courtesy of Foxtongue via Flickr

When I was about eight years old, I learned about air pollution in school. I ran home to tell my parents that I was going to be part of the solution and was promptly told, “You’re just one person… how do you think you’re going to put a stop something like air pollution?”

Over the years, that attitude stayed with me. What was the point? After all, even if I were to do something good for the environment, someone would just go and mess it up, right? Sadly, that’s the attitude that most people have, but the truth is, if you reduce your carbon footprint by recycling, reducing consumption, using alternative energy, etc., it has a significant impact in the long-run.

If 10 people do something to lower air pollution levels, it makes a small, albeit worthwhile, difference.  If 10,000 people do something, then it really starts to count. What most people don’t realize is that 10,000 people start with just one person.

So, how can you stop air pollution? It’s easier than you think, as I found out. Let’s take a look at some of the most important steps you can start taking today.

1. Weatherproof your home

To reduce your use of electricity, caulk and weather-strip your doorways and windows, add outside shades to your windows, and add insulation, especially to the roof of your home.  By weatherproofing your home, it will be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  Plus, your electricity bills will be much lower as a result!

2. Commute to work by bike or public transportation

If you drive to and from work alone, consider carpooling, using public transportation, or commuting by bike instead to lower overall air pollution levels.  If commuting in your own vehicle is an absolute necessity, consider switching to a more eco-friendly vehicle.

3. Unplug electronics that you are not using

Rather than just turning your electric appliances off, unplug them from the wall when they’re not in use, so they don’t use up energy while on standby.

4. Eat Locally

Buy locally-produced food items rather than food products that are shipped in from different parts of the world.  Fossil fuels must be burned to transport foods from faraway places, so it’s better to eat local produce whenever possible.

5. Spread the word

While one person might not make a huge dent in the world’s pollution levels, you can influence other people’s thoughts and actions. There are actually two parts to this: talking to people directly and simply being a good example. If you have children, you can bet that your habits will rub off on them, so you can influence a new generation of people who think about their impact on the environment.

One thing that I never counted on was seeing so many people in my life make adjustments to their lifestyle and way of thinking just because of what I did. For example, my mother asked me to help her research the most environmentally-friendly vehicles out there when it was time for her to buy a new car.  My mother, who used to eat off of paper plates, drive a humongous SUV, and blast her air conditioning non-stop in the summer, is the last person you’d expect to care about the environment.  So, whether you’re just changing the way you do things or influencing others to make changes to their lifestyle, it all matters!

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