~ Julie Baris

Sometimes when we hear about the many

environmental problems that are happening

in today’s world, we can understandably

become overwhelmed. But the truth is that

there are many aspects of the environment

and if we would all perhaps break those

aspects down to just one area where we can personally begin to more mindful, then collectively, we can all make a difference with helping the environment regarding those choices we make every day.

One of the biggest environmental impacts of human activities is air quality. The transportation sector contributes heavily to air pollution because most forms of transportation, including our cars, buses, planes and ocean vessels, use fossil fuels. When burned, fossil fuels release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the environment. This is something we can’t necessarily do anything about in the broader picture but in our individual lives, there are things we can take into consideration.

As it pertains to transportation, perhaps you can limit driving by carpooling, using public transportation, biking or walking. If driving a car is your only option, keep your automobile well-tuned and maintained. Following the manufacturer’s instructions as to checking tire pressure and wheel alignment, along with changing your oil and filters. Keeping your tires inflated not only ensures that they will last longer, but you will realize much better fuel efficiency for your vehicle. And certainly, we all know the annoyance of seeing a car burning oil with smoke in the air as they drive by, just knowing how much they have created yet more polluted air. The same can occur with excessive idling of your automobile, again creating more emissions. Another tip is to combine errands for fewer trips.

Be careful not to spill gasoline when filling up your car or gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment. Seal containers of household cleaners, workshop chemicals and solvents, and garden chemicals to prevent volatile organic compounds (“VOC”) from evaporating into the air. To that end and if you feel so inclined, you also use electric or hand-powered lawn care equipment. The same applies to cars. These are personal choices, but you can also explore the idea of driving electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Some straight-ahead home tips would be to choose environmentally friendly cleaners. Also, when you do any painting, use water-based or solvent-free paints whenever possible and buy products that say “low VOC,” meaning they don’t off-gas as much as traditional paints.
If you have any power plants in your area, you can also certainly advocate for emission reductions. We can all take the time to think these through and apply these to our own lives and if others do the same, we will see positive results.