Air Clean Up
10 Everyday Ways You Could Be Contributing to Pollution
Jan 01 2019 Read 937 Times
The issue of manmade pollution and climate change is one that is now at the forefront of mainstream consciousness, thanks to media coverage, environmental campaigns and government incentives. But while the industrial causes are well-documented and increasingly well-regulated, we often forget how our own small actions can have a cumulatively monumental impact on the environment. Here are 10 everyday ways you could be contributing to pollution - without even realising it.
- Exhaust fumes
Perhaps one of the most obvious causes, the fumes from the exhaust of your car place a significant strain on the environment and emit harmful toxins like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2). You can help to improve air quality and reduce transport-related pollution by switching to an electric vehicle (EV) or, better yet, leaving the car at home altogether.
- Car washing
It might seem more economical to wash your car yourself, but paying a professional car wash to do it for you can actually be significantly better for the environment. That’s because cleaning agents often contain harmful chemicals which can infiltrate water reservoirs and even drinking supplies. A professional outfit is required to drain away all wastewater into the appropriate sewerage system.
- Household appliances
Household appliances are not only detrimental to the environment in the amount of energy they use, but the ones which regulate temperature also have a direct impact on pollution. This is because the aerosol sprays contained in things like fridges and air conditioners can deplete the ozone layer, allowing damaging rays of the sun to penetrate through.
Speaking of which, other aerosols around the home - such as deodorants and air fresheners - may now be free from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) but many still contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can damage human health and react with other elements in the atmosphere to exacerbate pollution.
- Waste disposal
Generating vast amounts of waste will eventually lead to a storage problem as our landfills become filled with unwanted refuse, but in the meantime all that garbage is already damaging the atmosphere through the emission of methane. One of the most harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs) responsible for global warming, methane can also react with the air to create explosive compounds.
- Energy sources
Unless you have installed solar panels on your roof or a wind turbine in your back yard, the amount of energy you use around the home will have a direct influence on the amount of pollution in our atmosphere. Do your best to reduce energy consumption wherever possible and if you can, switch to renewable sources of energy in the long run.
- Plastic consumption
The government have now moved to ban many single-use plastic items, such as drinks straws and stirrers, bags and Q-tips. You can do your own part by limiting your consumption of plastic produce as much as you can. This can consist of taking your own containers to the supermarket when purchasing dried goods or carrying a refillable water bottle or coffee cup with you wherever you go.
- Cups of tea
On the subject of good cuppas, the vast majority of tea is made using teabags. Given that over 75% of teabags manufactured (including by big brands like Tetleys, Twinings and PG Tips) do not use 100% biodegradable materials in their composition, every time you have a cup of tea, you’re contributing to landfill - which, as we’ve see above, can result in heightened methane emissions.
- Lawn maintenance
In pursuit of the most pristine lawn in the neighbourhood, many people use fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides to spruce up their front yard. While it might have a beneficial effect aesthetically, it can be disastrous for air, soil and water pollution. Concerned but house-proud homeowners would do well to investigate the use of organic fertilisers as an eco-friendly alternative.
Another activity which causes significant pollution is mowing the grass. Indeed, one Swedish study concluded that mowing your lawn can have the same detrimental impact as a 100-mile car journey. The authors recommend attaching a catalytic converter to the lawnmower (perhaps a little too technical for many) or simply mowing early in the morning or late in the evening to mitigate the most serious effects.
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