Clean Air Day 2018: Our opportunity to address air pollution
What will you do for Clean Air Day 2018? 21 June is just one month away and the opportunity for sustainability professionals to bring the issue of air pollution to the attention of our workplaces is on the horizon.
Air pollution affects us all at work, at home and out and about. It causes heart and lung diseases and shortens the life of at least 29,000 people every year. In the same way that that most employers are working to tackle climate change and manage carbon emissions, we now need to address air pollution.
Although the majority (68%) of people in a recent nationwide survey were aware that their day to day actions can have a direct impact on the air quality in their local environment, comparatively few were taking actions to protect their health from air pollution, such as choosing to cycle/walk a route previously driven (21%) or buying milder, fragrance-free or naturally scented cleaning products (11%).
Employers have the opportunity to address this knowledge-action gap by providing information on the actions that employees can take to reduce, and protect themselves from, air pollution, and by encouraging staff to take pollution-busting action. There are ready-to-use resources such as posters, leaflets, newsletter templates and social media memes, to make it as easy as possible for every workplace to get involved with Clean Air Day:
- Spread the word – use the social media toolkit to let staff know about air pollution and the actions they can take
- Meet virtually – challenge teams to meet by video or teleconference instead of driving
- Giveaway a freebie – give away free bus tickets, cycle hire, car club membership or free breakfasts for cycling and running commuters
- Car park takeover – if people can be encouraged to leave the car at home for the day, they can be rewarded by turning the car park in to a green oasis, with pop up food outlets for lunch
- Scan your Van Plan – 95% of vans are diesel, but electric models are increasingly available. Check whether your suppliers can make fewer deliveries to your site, or upgrade their fleet to include EVs
- Take it EV – encourage electric car drivers who are passionate about EVs to take a colleague or a neighbour for a spin, aiming to convert 100,000 more drivers to choose an EV when they upgrade.
Clean Air Day is a chance for the whole country to come together and improve air quality through collective action. And as sustainability professionals, let’s seize on this opportunity on June 21 2018 to clean up the air in and around our organisations.
IMAGE: The Colmore BID getting involved in Clean Air Day 2017 Credit: Edwin Ellis Creative Media.
Larissa Lockwood is head of health and coordinator of Clean Air Day at Global Action Plan