How businesses can help improve air quality
Air pollution alerts in the UK this year have already outnumbered those for the whole of 2018. Scientists recently announced that air pollution could affect every organ in the human body; and think of the children: outdoor air pollution in Britain is poisoning 2.6 million schoolchildren, while half of parents would move house to avoid it if they could.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are things we can all do to help, and businesses are in a unique position to encourage those small changes in attitude and behaviour that can make a big difference. And besides, clean air is good for business.
Today, organisations across the planet will be taking part in World Environment Day. Some will encourage employees to leave their cars at home and travel to work sustainably, some will run awareness-raising events, some will get hands-on with environmental activities such as tree planting, and many will consider positive changes they can make to their day-to-day business activities.
Transport is a big part of the solution.
The global transport sector accounts for almost one-quarter of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution emissions from transport have been linked to nearly 400,000 premature deaths, while those people living closest to major traffic arteries are up to 12 percent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
Improving support for active and sustainable commuting and reducing non-essential business journeys are just two quick wins for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. Policies and standards that require the use of cleaner fuels and advanced vehicle emissions standards can reduce vehicle emissions by a phenomenal 90 percent or more.
Reducing waste is aIso important for improving air quality: the less waste that is collected, the less that is burned or landfilled. And reducing the estimated one-third of all food that is wasted can also help reduce air pollution, say World Environment Day organisers. Businesses can help by encouraging employees to recycle whatever they can and to compost their food waste, and by making it easy and attractive for them to do so.
Cutting air pollution is good for business, too. Poor quality air contributes to health problems such as asthma and even coughs and colds. On average, employee sick days are estimated to cost UK businesses more than £500 for each employee every year. Consumers are more discerning now, too, and are choosing companies that care about environmental issues. And there is even evidence that people in less polluted areas spend more.
Anything business do to encourage cleaner travel (such as walking, cycling, sharing cars and using public transport) and less waste, is a great feather in their cap and an important step in the right direction – and benefits everyone.
- To beat air pollution we must urge people out of cars, say researchers
- UK Air Quality is improving but there’s a long way to go
- Air pollution – a challenge most people don’t know how to tackle
- Making your business cycle-friendly
- How businesses can help improve air quality
If you’d like to know how you can motivate people to change their habits, ask us for a demonstration of our behaviour change management system.