Top 10 Ways to Spare the Air
We all contribute to Bay Area smog. Driving, painting, even the type of consumer products we use create emissions that form smog. In the summertime because of the warmer temperatures, smog is a bigger problem but we can all do our part to help keep our air clean. Want to be part of the solution to cleaner air? Try these ways to Spare the Air!
1. Don't drive
Cars are THE major source of air pollution in the Bay Area. Before jumping into your vehicle to run an errand, or even go to work, consider alternative means of transportation. Can you get to your destination by walking, biking or public transit instead of driving alone? If you leave your car home one day a week, you prevent 55 pounds of air pollution each year from being emitted into our environment. And think of the money you'll save on gas, parking and car upkeep!
2. Take transit
The Bay Area is served by a number of transit agencies. Take transit and let someone else deal with the traffic. Treat yourself to a stress-free commute! You'll also find that public transit can get you to just about any event or weekend activity that might be in your plans. Call 817-1717 (toll-free from most Bay Area phones) for information on how local transit can get you where you're going.
Why not share a ride? Whether you're driving to work, the gym, a baseball game or to the beach, find a carpool partner. Take turns driving and give yourselves a break from road-stress a few days a week. And remember, some employers and counties have a Guaranteed Ride Home program that makes cars or taxis vouchers available to carpoolers / vanpoolers and transit-takers in case of emergency or a situation in which your original ride might be unavailable to you.
Why commute at all if you can arrange to telecommute from home? You'll save commute time and expenses. Whether you choose to do this full-time or just one day a week, you will be making a difference. It is estimated that a little over one pound of pollution is saved when you and your car stay at home.
5. Refuel in the evening and don't top off
Putting gas into your vehicle releases Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the air. Throughout the day, these VOCs mix with oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in the air, "cook" in the summer heat, and form ground-level ozone. Refueling in the evening decreases the opportunity for VOCs to form into ozone.
Cold engines pollute five times more than warm ones. A cold engine is one that has been sitting for over an hour. When possible, link all of your errands together into one trip to minimize cold starts.
7. Avoid consumer spray products
In the Bay Area, 45 tons per day of pollution come from spray products. That's more VOC emissions than the total VOC emissions from all the Bay Area oil refineries! These aerosol products include hairspray, furniture polish, cooking sprays, bathroom cleaners, air fresheners, antiperspirants, insecticides, and hobby craft sprays. Hair spray alone contributes nine tons of pollution per day! When selecting consumer products, consider other forms instead. Solids, sticks, and gels are more environmentally friendly consumer choices.
8. Use water-based paints
Oil-based paints and varnishes contain a high percentage of VOCs that evaporate into the atmosphere and create smog. Water-based latex paints are less polluting and easier to wash off your hands and equipment.
9. Barbecue as much as you like - just DON'T USE LIGHTER FLUID!
Lighter fluid literally goes up in smoke, causing a half-ton of smog each day in the Bay Area. Try using an electric or a chimney briquette starter instead-you'll actually get a faster start.
10. Ban gasoline power from your lawn and garden chores
On an hour-for-hour basis, a gasoline-powered lawn mower produces as much pollution as 40 new cars. On Spare the Air days, don't use gasoline-powered landscaping equipment. Better yet, put off lawn care for a day or two until the air is cleaner - then get a good cardiovascular workout by pushing that trusty, old hand mower!
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