Make Clean Air Your Choice!
Environment Week, the first week of June, is an annual, international celebration of the environment. A highlight is Clean Air Day, which started in B.C. and has now been proclaimed by the federal government and other provinces. This year, Clean Air Day is on June 8 (2016).
What gives these events meaning and value are the practical, clean air actions we take every day, with other people in our community. We can make many important choices to help protect the air — especially through our transportation choices. In B.C., transportation is the major source of greenhouse gas
emissions and a key cause of urban air pollution.
Clean air is not just about transportation, though. Government, industry, business and each of us have a part to play in controlling the release of greenhouse gases and other
air pollutants. Here’s how you can help, all through the year:
Motor vehicles are B.C.'s main source of carbon dioxide. Break the automobile addiction:
- When you must drive, combine trips.
- Don't idle (run your engine needlessly). If you’re stopped for more than 10 seconds, except in traffic, turn off the engine. Idling causes air pollution and wastes fuel.
- When starting your vehicle on a cold day, the best way to warm up your vehicle is to drive it. You only need 30 seconds of idling to circulate the engine oil. Driving will then warm the other moving
parts, such as the tires, transmission, steering, suspension and wheel bearings. The exception to this rule is if it’s very cold outside.
- Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle. Keep it in top condition with a regular tune-up and make sure the tires are properly inflated.
- Walk, cycle, use public transit or join a carpool. Even leaving the car at home just once a week will significantly lower emissions.
- Consider a condensed work week or telecommuting as a way to work effectively and cut air pollution.
- Remember that cyclists have chosen an environmentally friendly way to travel. Share the road!
Make your home energy-efficient:
- When choosing a space-heating system for your home, consider a high-efficiency furnace.
- Convert to cleaner, more efficient fuels. Natural gas burns more efficiently than oil, but it's still a fossil fuel, producing carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Hydroelectricity
is preferable to both. Solar energy and ground-source heat pumps are exciting new options.
- Insulate and weatherstrip your home effectively, and install windows that are efficient at preventing heat loss. An energy-efficient (R-2000) house that traps passive solar
energy and retains it by minimizing air leaks can reduce annual energy consumption by over half that of a conventional home.
- Set your thermostat no higher than 20°C, and turn it down when you're asleep or going out.
- Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances.
- To reduce the amount of energy required to heat water, insulate hot water pipes and use low-flow showerheads.
- Avoid using garden tools (e.g. lawn mowers) that run on gasoline.
Put a lid on smoke:
- Instead of burning your garden leftovers, start a backyard compost. Recycle paper and cardboard. Never burn plastic, tires and other toxic materials.
- Make sure your woodstove burns efficiently, and burn only dry, untreated wood.
Keep ozone-depleting substances safe on earth:
- Make sure your car (and home) air conditioner, refrigerator and freezer don't leak ozone depleting substances. If they do, get them repaired by a certified technician. Under B.C.
law, ozone depleting substances must be safely recovered from all equipment during servicing or scrapping.
Do you think nothing you can do will help? Wrong! Each one of us can help make a difference in the quality of the air we breathe, and in
the health of the atmosphere, just by reducing our own emissions.
We all share the air. We can all care for it.