World Environment Day
Since 1974, World Environment Day is the United Nation’s principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. You may remember celebrities playing ‘tag’ online last year for #BeatPlasticPollution. And for 2019, the focus is on air pollution with the theme #BeatAirPollution.
Why air pollution?
Air pollution is invisible, but it’s everywhere. We are probably inhaling tiny particles that attack our lungs, heart and brain. It also contributes to climate change. Hence, China, the host country, chose air pollution as the theme for World Environment Day 2019. By doing so, it invites us all to consider how we can change our everyday lives to reduce the amount of air pollution we produce.
5 Main causes of air pollution
> Household: Outdoor cooking with fossil fuels or biomass.
> Industry: Non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels are used to generate electricity.
> Transport: The burning of fossil fuels, especially diesel, causes carbon dioxide emissions among other pollutants.
> Agriculture: Livestock produces ammonia and methane. Ozone forms due to methane emissions.
Waste: Waste incineration results in emissions of toxic gases like dioxin and furans.
What can we do against air pollution? Here’s what the UN and we have to say…
1. Plant trees.
2. Clean up trash.
3. Find ways to commute without polluting.
4. Get curtains that clean the air.
Civil Societies or Communities:
1. Walk, cycle, use more public transportation or share car rides when possible.
2. Do not burn trash.
3. Organise a tree planting activity with your community. (A cost-effective way to tackle urban air pollution.)
4. Alternatively, encourage having plants in your own home.
5. Organise a trash clean-up event with community and colleagues.
6. Ask your local authorities to provide regular air quality data.
7. Petition for legislation to control the worst polluters.
8. Buy only what you need. (This can be applied to all events organised.)
Businesses and Workplace:
1. Pledge to use recyclable materials for your products.
2. Host a company tree planting day.
3. Ensure your power supply is carbon-neutral or renewable.
4. Use fresh air ventilation or install ultra-efficient, hydrofluorocarbon-free cooling.
5. Make a pledge to buy low-emission or electric vehicles for the company fleet.
6. Consider how you can reduce emissions of air pollutants from facilities and supply chains.
7. If you are a worker, think of how your work processes can be more green.
So, these are some of the tips that the UN has suggested to combat air pollution. Moreover, there are other guides available that show us alternative ways to combat climate change through schools, faith, the government and NGOs. Also, these guides explain more comprehensively what different stakeholders can do to improve air pollution.
The Mask Challenge!
This challenge involves wearing a mask, taking a photo and posting it on social media. However, if you don’t have a mask, be creative and make your own! Also, put in some statistics or facts about air pollution to convince your friends to join the movement. Then, tell us how you would combat it. Whether is it as an individual, with your family or friends or colleagues – we want to know. Later on, when you have completed your part to fight air pollution, take another photo or video and post it again.
If you need some cool Facebook filters for the photos, check out some of them created below by Meshminds x UN Environment:
1. Commute without polluting: Use public transport, cycle or walk instead of taking the car.So, open this link & blow to make your bike wheels spin: http://l.ead.me/cycles
2. Reduce consumption of meat and dairy to cut methane emissions.Then, click this link & give a big smile to earn your veggie crown: http://l.ead.me/veggie
3. Plant trees to create more green spaces.Later, head to this link & blow away your mask to reveal a beautiful forest: http://l.ead.me/leaves
On that note, do remember to use #WorldEnvironmentDay, #BeatAirPollution in your social media posts and tag @UNEnvironment. Also, if you would like for us to see it, do tag us @greenisthenewblackcom on Facebook and Instagram. We would love to hear the innovative ideas you have to combat air pollution.
So… you think you know air pollution?
After reading this article, you must feel like a pro at air pollution by now, right? Well, you can head on over to the UN website to take a short quiz to find out just how much you really know about it.
We at GITNB feel that air pollution is a topic that we just do not confront about enough. So, we are very happy that the UN is taking action against it. With that, we hope that every person, community and nation can be part of this global movement against air pollution. At the same time, have fun and enjoy yourself while doing these challenges. Happy World Environment Day 2019!
Photo Credits: UN Environment