World Environment Day 2019 – let’s #BeatAirPollution!

World Environment Day is the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment, it began in 1974 and is now widely celebrated in over 100 countries. The focus is on the day itself being “the ‘people’s day’ for doing something to take care of the Earth. That ‘something’ can be local, national or global.” This year’s theme is Air Pollution which is something that has the potential to affect everyone, according to the World Environment Day website, “Around seven million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution with about four million of these deaths occurring in Asia-Pacific”. Air pollution not only has impacts on human health but also on climate change and global warming.

There are five main causes of air pollution:

  • Household – particularly burning solid fuels and open fires for cooking, heating and lighting
  • Industry – particularly power generation
  • Transport – particularly diesel emissions, especially in urban areas
  • Agriculture – due to the methane produced by livestock farming as well as the amount of food wasted across the supply chain and by the end consumer
  • Waste – particularly due to open burning of waste which is illegal in the UK but widely practiced across the world

Individuals can make choices and can take action to #BeatAirPollution and some examples are as follows:

  • Use public transport, car sharing, cycling or walking to work / school – I’ve made the commitment to cycle to as many local, Bristol based clients as possible
  • Switching to hybrid or electric vehicle – unfortunately I’m not in a position to do this yet and will have to wait until my current (petrol) vehicle dies
  • Reduce consumption of meat and dairy – not something I’ve tackled yet due to our household’s love of bacon and cheese!
  • Reduce food waste – something we are actively trying to do by making better choices when shopping, serving smaller portions and keeping an eye on ‘best before dates’ in the fridge
  • Recycle and composting as much as possible – relatively easy to do in South Gloucestershire as the recycling and logistical infrastructure is well developed, obviously harder to do across the world, particularly in less developed countries
  • Save energy – we’ve got energy efficient lightbulbs all around the house and I do walk around switching lights off a lot, we’ve also had to buy some replacement white goods recently and energy efficiency was high on the list of criteria

Businesses can also make choices about the way operations are carried out and take action to tackle environmental issues, some of the choices my clients have made include:

  • Use of waste materials in a ‘closed loop recycling’ process, wood fragments and sawdust are extracted during the manufacturing process and returned to the board supplier to be turned back into new board for manufacture
  • Procurement of fuel-efficient vehicles for waste collection operations as well as the provision of electric bikes and electric vans for management staff to use around the city
  • Implementation of clearly labelled recycling schemes and bins on site to encourage all staff to do their bit, both with production waste and canteen / office waste
  • Communication campaigns to encourage staff to recycle both at home and at work
  • Implementation of ISO 14001:2015 which helps companies to identify and manage their environmental impacts

Today is #WorldEnvironmentDay – what choices are you going to make to #BeatAirPollution?

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