How can I make a difference to air quality?
There are many ways that we can all play a part in reducing air pollution. We use energy for many of our day-to-day activities. Burning fossil fuels is one of the largest contributors to air pollution and climate change and most of the energy we use comes from burning fossil fuels such as oil and gas so reducing energy use can not only reduce pollution but can reduce CO2 that is a major causes climate change.
Let's look at a few ways that YOU can make a difference:
Walk or cycle - walking or cycling to wherever you are going is even better than using public transport as it produces no pollutants at all; not only that, but it is also good for your health! Luckily, living in Kent, there are many cycle and foot paths which you can use. Use the Explore Kent website to find out more. You can even suggest that members of your family cycle to work even if it’s only a few times a week every little helps.
Using Public Transport - using public transport such as the train or bus rather than using cars will help to reduce pollution. It also eases congestion, reduce emissions, and can give people time to relax, chat with friends, read, play a game on your phone or even finish off your homework! Using public transport can save time as people not have to find a parking space or even pay for parking!
Share Transport - sharing lifts with friends to and from school or other locations can reduce emissions and congestion so can benefit everyone. Some Kent local authorities are also promoting a journey sharing service called “Faxi”. (For more information and to watch their promotional video go to www.faxi.co.uk)
Save Energy - switch off your electronic devices such as TV's and computers instead of leaving them on stand-by mode. Switching them off completely will save about 10% of the electricity that they use. Also remember to switch off the lights! Not only will it save electricity but money too! Using less electricity will mean we need to produce less electricity in our power stations which will help to reduce pollution.
Use renewable energy - using 'renewable' energy reduces emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. Renewable energy uses the earth’s natural resources to produce power. Sources of renewable energy include solar power, wind turbines and hydroelectricity.
Use Less Polluting Vehicles - when your family car is being replaced maybe suggest that it is chosen on the basis of its effect on air pollution. Maybe a hybrid or electric car is best and better for the environment too and may be cheaper to run!
How is air pollution being reduced in Kent?
As a county, Kent and Medway Local Authorities take air pollution very seriously. The councils monitor air pollution very closely and there are a number of things being done in the county to try to reduce levels of air pollution:
- Walk to school schemes - There are various walk to school initiatives, your school may have one. For example, the Kent and Medway Charity Team help organise walking buses!
- Kent Smarter Challenge - Kent County Council hosted a challenge in 2015 to promote and to share the benefits of traveling to and for work more sustainably. The aim was to save time and money, reduce congestion and pollution, boost your health and energy, and burn calories. More information can be found at the Kent Connected website.
- Traffic Management Improvement – Improvement in how traffic is controlled at the Eastern Docks at Dover helped to reduce emissions from transport.
- Lower Emissions Buses – Using buses that emit low levels of pollution along the A20 route, the 'Greenway', which crosses between Maidstone Borough and Tonbridge & Malling District. In 2013 Maidstone borough council received funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) to retrofit a number of buses in its fleet to reduce NO2 and particulate (PM10 and PM2.5)
- Electric vehicle charging – Charging points in publicly accessible car parks – in some areas, such as Tunbridge Wells, these are free to use!
Everyone can play their part in reducing air pollution!