Air pollution solutions need to be a high priority for any of us Utahans that hate seeing that hazy smog layered across the valley. Solutions for air pollution and fighting the inversion can be as simple as switching the lights off when you leave a room, but there are many ways to improve the air that you breathe. For better health benefits, environmental awareness, and even financial savings consider the following three suggestions for reducing air pollution:
1: MAKE SUSTAINABLE ENERGY CHOICES
Go Solar. Choosing to install a solar system for your home can not only improve your carbon footprint, but it can save you incredible amounts of money over time. Power providers are increasing electricity rates at a dramatic pace. Converting your home to solar energy will allow you to lock in your electric rates and save loads of money while reducing carbon emissions caused by non-renewable electrical production. On average a 20-panel residential solar system eliminates 460,000 lbs of CO2 from the air that you breathe. That’s 40,000 miles driven in a car and 10 acres of trees planted. Can you think of a better solution for air pollution? (Click here to learn more about going solar in Utah. Get a free quote for your home, here.)
Dedicate yourself to small changes. There are lots of little things that you can do to make sure that you are conserving as much energy as possible. Keep these strategies in mind to start saving energy:
- Keep the temperature on your water heater set to 120℉. Heating water accounts for between 14-25% of your home’s energy. Keeping the water heater set at 120℉ will help save some of that energy.
- Air dry clothes. You can reduce your carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds a year by hanging your clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer.
- Air or hand dry dishes. Make a dent in the 2.5% of your household energy that is expended by using a dishwasher. Open the dishwasher door instead of running the dry cycle on your dishwasher.
- Choose energy efficient light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) can save up to 75% of the energy that goes toward lighting your home. These bulbs also produce less heat than normal light bulbs.
Embrace thermostat savings. Keep your thermostat set to 78℉ in warmer months and 68 in the colder months. By reducing the amount of work that your heating and air conditioning systems have to do year round, you can make a big difference in your energy use. Consider turning your heater down to 55℉ at night during colder months and pile on the blankets to stay warm. Similarly, use fans instead of an air conditioner to help control the temperature in your home. Fans use much less energy than air conditioners.
2: MAKE SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION CHOICES
Cut back on driving. Getting to and from our everyday jobs and activities is one of the largest contributors to a polluted environment. One of the very best things you can do is stop using your vehicle. Walking or riding your bike on a nice day can help the environment and you can get some fresh air and exercise in the process.d
Embrace public transportation. Riding the bus, train, or subway is another great way to avoid using your personal vehicle and reduce carbon emissions. The Utah Transit Authority provides everything you need to know to start using the impressive public transit system that Utah has to offer. Consider that when you use public transport there is more time to get things done during your commute.
The American Public Transportation Association reported that “If an individual switches from driving a 20-mile round-trip commute to using public transportation, his or her annual CO2 emissions will decrease by 4,800 pounds per year, equal to a 10 percent reduction in a two-car household’s carbon footprint”. That sounds like a great air pollution solution to us!
If public transport is not readily available where you live, consider carpooling to work with coworkers or friends. If anything, consolidate your driving trips by trip-chaining your daily activities into one long trip will save you money on gas and reduce emissions.
Maintain your vehicle properly. On top of reducing your driving in general, keep your car in good condition in order to help reduce carbon emissions. This will also help avoid additional major problems with your vehicle. Get regular maintenance on your car to keep it running well. Get an oil change every three months or every 3,000 miles. Keep your tires inflated according to your vehicle’s recommendations. Get your air, oil, and fuel filters changed according to your vehicle’s recommendations.
3: MAKE SUSTAINABLE FOOD CHOICES
Choose local whenever possible. Moving the food we eat from one side of the country to the other and around the world consumes a huge amount of fuel. The excessive use of fuel for food transportation is a large contributor to air pollution. Rather than buying food that has been transported hundreds or even thousands of miles to get to your kitchen, choose locally produced items that come from farms in your local area. Identify local farmers that use sustainable methods for production and don’t be afraid to ask questions about their operations. You can find Utah local options through different organizations like Utah’s Own, where you can find a directory of local products.
Go for organic when you can. Organic fruits and vegetables are generally more expensive but come with great peace of mind with your purchase. You can be confident that your produce has been grown without chemical pesticides, which contribute to pollution of groundwater, air, and nearby human and plant life. When you choose organic fruits and vegetables you contribute to farming practices that are better for the environment and directly help prevent air pollution.
Grow a garden. Your own backyard can be one of the greatest tools in stopping pollution. Not only can an edible garden provide you with your own fruits and veggies, other plants and trees can help to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and act as a carbon sink, which means less pollution. If you are starting from scratch, check out these How To Start A Garden tips from HGTV. Air pollution isn’t only present near highways, so bolstering neighborhoods with plant life is definitely a solution for air pollution.
The solutions to prevent air pollution are endless, but these three methods for cleaning up Utah air can be done by anyone. When you’re ready to take part, focus on one thing at a time – it’s not required that you become a clean air advocate overnight.