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Green-Zones.eu › Environment & Health › Tips & Tricks

What can we do against air pollution?

Reducing air pollution is an important task. Politicians are passing new laws in response to international guidelines, while researchers and industry experts are developing new filter systems and cleaner cars to reduce CO2, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides and other air pollutants.

We can also help to make our air cleaner and protect the environment and climate, every day: the number of cars on our roads is increasing. Of course, it's practical: just go to the supermarket, or take the car to work when it rains in the morning. That's how the car has become an absolute means of comfort. But a large part of air pollution is caused by traffic, and all our cars contribute to it. Let's leave it behind now and then. For shorter distances, for example, which you can walk or cycle. We can carpool more and use more Community taxis. In this way we improve the air, reduce congestion, and also reduce noise pollution in the urban centres of our cities. And travelling in company is usually more fun. Bus and train are also a great alternative to the car. Once again, we are protecting the environment and at the same time giving our local government an incentive to expand public transport. Because only if this is used more frequently will the city's investment in expanding the networks pay off. Nevertheless, cars are sometimes more practical, either because you have a lot to tow or because the bus and train network is not yet what you want. But even when we sit in the car, we can still do something good for our air: environmentally friendly driving makes a big difference, both in terms of fuel consumption and brake wear. And who has to speed to the next red light at 60 km/h - is probably better for the heart. And if we buy a new car, we might consider one with electric drive. Although the supply of charging points is still quite meagre in some areas, this will improve in the coming years. And who knows how much longer the internal combustion engine will be allowed to drive into German and European cities.

We can also do something about air pollution at home. Fireplaces, for example, contribute greatly to air pollution. No matter how cosy the flickering stoves are, there are significantly more environmentally friendly heating systems. And nobody can forbid us to turn them on properly on a cold winter night. It is the same with our consumer behaviour. Often we do not think about how badly we need something. We want something and we buy it. And now we don't even have to move away from the sofa. Shopping apps are always just a finger click away. Thinking about whether you really need something before you buy it, or having something repaired more often, has an impact on the industry, and therefore on what it blows into our air.
Not only is it important to protect the environment, but of course we should also take care to protect our health. So if the air quality is poor, we should perhaps avoid activities such as sports or outdoor recreation. A mask can also help protect us from fine dust and nitrogen oxides when we have to be outdoors in bad air.

But not only does avoiding all the nice things in life help, we can also actively create something that will let our lungs breathe more freely again. The gardeners among us may know what a great service plants do for us in the fight against air pollution. Indoor plants improve the indoor climate and create better air. Not least because plants can filter fine dust and other pollutants from the air. Mosses in gardens and nature are true sponges of fine dust. Their many small leaves absorb inorganic compounds such as metals and salts. Ivy also acts as a natural air filter. So let's green our balconies and house walls with this beautiful climbing plant to protect ourselves and others from air pollutants. Since space is scarce in cities, a German start-up is now building so-called city trees: these green walls, or wooden boxes, are planted with thousands of mosses and plants and bind about 30kg of CO2 and 37g of fine dust per year. Their water supply is self-sufficiently powered by solar energy, so that the horizontal meadows do not cause any emissions. The start-up "BiomiTech" from Mexico creates futuristic looking artificial trees, which are home to algae in the centre. These columns have the cleansing effect of 370 natural trees. In cities where there is almost no room for parks and green spaces, such projects could therefore ensure carefree breathing in the future - just like our balconies.

The protection of our air is therefore not only the responsibility of experts and legislators. As with so many environmental problems, we can all contribute to keeping our air cleaner. And in sum, everyone's behaviour will make a big difference. Sometimes changing our habits may cost us some effort. But maybe we enjoy cycling in the rain, or gardening more than we thought we would.