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June 05 2018

Clean Air Day - 21 June 2018

June 21 is the longest day of the year, and this year Global Action Plan is hoping to make it the cleanest day of the year too… With awareness surrounding vehicle emissions and air pollution on the increase, how can car owners reduce or offset their emissions? We spoke to Global Action Plan to find out more…


What is Clean Air Day?
Clean Air Day on 21 June is the nation’s biggest air pollution campaign, involving thousands of individuals and organisations in events – and reaching millions through the media. It’s all about raising awareness on air pollution and how to protect yourself and your community against it. Did you know air pollution is damaging to the health of everyone, but in particular to young children and those with heart and lung problems? The good news is that there are small steps every one of us can do to protect ourselves and our families, and Clean Air Day is here to spread that message.

Tell us about Global Action Plan and the work that it does.
Global Action Plan brings people together and inspires practical environmental action. We run national and global programmes, through a network of local delivery teams in over 24 countries, from the United States and UK, to Hungary. And by sharing the stories of what people are up to in our projects, we inspire even more people to get involved. Global Action Plan works with many kinds of organisations, from leading FTSE100 companies and the NHS, to local schools and community bodies. We see people as part of the solution, not part of the problem, when it comes to creating an environmentally sustainable world.

What is the current climate of pollution on the UK’s roads?
There are an estimated 40,000 deaths each year caused by the air we breathe when we are out and about. Key causes of this pollution are cars and vans, especially diesel vehicles and those which are not being well-maintained. Changing our travel habits to more active travel, and using public transport or electric vehicles will help reduce this scary statistic.


Why is Clean Air Day important, and what changes are you hoping to see on and after 21 June?
Clean Air Day is important because air pollution is something that affects every one of us. It has been linked to illnesses such as heart disease and a number of other cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, worsening symptoms of asthma and premature births. It is the fourth-largest threat to human health.

We know collective action can make an immediate difference and Clean Air Day will show us just how much of a difference we can make when we all work together. After Clean Air Day, we want people to use the knowledge and experience they gained to continue protecting themselves, improving air quality and passing on the message.


What changes need to be made by the UK government to reduce emissions on the UK’s roads?
Clean Air is essential for everyone’s health, especially children. The public is ready for a comprehensive coordinated national approach to minimising air pollution, and they are ready for a government-backed campaign that helps them to play their part.

What everyday changes can motorists make to cut their levels of pollution?
When possible motorists should look to travel differently – think before you use your car. Walk, cycle, take public transport or reduce your journeys by working from home.

However, we understand that it isn’t always possible, so keeping your car well maintained and your tyres inflated can minimise your contribution to air pollution. Additionally, switching off your engine when not moving can help make the air cleaner for everyone – no idling can reduce peak concentrations of air pollution by up to 30%.

In the long term, when it comes to upgrading the car, motorists should consider switching to an electric vehicle to really cut their emissions.

Are there other things that motorists can do to offset their emissions, if they might need to use their vehicle on 21 June?
If leaving the car at home isn’t an option, another way to reduce individual’s contribution to road air pollution is by changing delivery settings to click and collect when ordering online.

Meanwhile, when at home or at work there are of things people can do to improve air quality.

Switching to fragrance free or naturally fragranced cleaning and personal products, while also avoiding aerosols, will help improve air quality in the home.

Minimising use of wood burning stoves or BBQs, and when they are used make sure to only burn smokeless fuel or dry, well-seasoned wood.

Generally, just consuming less energy will also reduce air pollution – burning gas and creating electricity from power stations are big contributors to the problem. There are lots of things you can do to conserve energy (and lower your bills), such as switching off the lights, filling the kettle with just what you need, and only running the washing machine and dishwasher when you have a full load.

There are many other tips on our website: www.cleanairday.org.uk

Other than avoiding car usage, are there any other ways that people can people get involved in Clean Air Day?
Yes! A very easy way to do something is to spread the word about air pollution and what you can do about it by sharing on social media - #cleanairday. Or could you hold an event in your workplace or community, such as a lunchtime information stall. We’ve leaflets, posters as well as plenty of ideas in our toolkits that are free to download on the website www.cleanairday.org.uk

Are there any other initiatives that you run throughout the year?
Water Explorer works with students aged 8-14 on learning and practical activities around saving water. So far, we’ve reached 3,500 schools in 11 countries. Goals for Good is a research project into how goal setting can influence our consumption patterns and personal wellbeing. And we’re about to launch Good Gadgets, which addresses the impact of gadgets on our environment. You can find out more at www.globalactionplan.org.uk

Posted on 5th June 2018 at 10:45AM

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