We remember how yucky it was when Singapore was hit by the haze recently. And we know our neighbors in some Asian cities struggle with pollution on a daily basis. Let’s face it—it’s getting increasingly difficult to get good, clean and fresh air nowadays. Every breath we take is mixed with smog, dust, gas fumes or noxious gases.
While a degree of air pollution can be expected from a bustling urban city, there are steps we can take to improve the quality of air we’re breathing. We don’t want lungfuls of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, lead, smog, hydrocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s), all of which have adverse environmental and health effects. So learn how you can improve the air you’re inhaling—the I-S way.
Reuse, reduce, recycle
How will it help? Yep, the old adage still applies. The main sources of air pollution in Singapore come about when fossil fuels are burnt to generate heat and electricity for manufacturing and industry. So if you can recycle paper, plastic and glass, wastage is reduced, factories won’t have to churn out quite so much and hence will release less noxious fumes into the air.
Any other benefits? Recycling paper saves trees and reduces the greenhouse effect. You can also save money and get more creative when reusing stuff.
How will it help? Use less power, wherever you are. Most electrical companies get power by burning coal and other fossil fuels. So switch off the lights when no one is in the room, use less air-conditioning and unplug all electrical devices if they are not being used, as they use up energy when they’re plugged in, even if they’re not switched on. If you use less electricity, power companies burn less fossil fuel and thus pollution is reduced.
Any other benefits? You save money on your electricity bill. You might even get a trimmer figure as you dash madly from room to room switching off lights.
Plant more trees
How will it help? It’s simple. Trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen during the day, so they will give you more fresh air. And it’s not hard to plant trees—all it takes is for you to dust off your trusty trowel and start digging.
Any other benefits? Planting trees or growing more plants (if you haven’t got space for a tree) will add more color and warmth to your small lawn or concrete balcony. Plus, all that digging and sweating is sure to help you lose some weight (or at least burn up some energy), and all for an excellent cause too.
Walk, ride a bike or take public transportation
How will it help? Every time you use a car, exhaust fumes are emitted. When gasoline or diesel burns, harmful chemicals such as nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide are released. So instead of taking the car out to the neighborhood shops, stop being lazy and use your God-given legs.
Any other benefits? Of course. Walking is good exercise. Riding a bike achieves the same purpose and also gives you a good workout. Taking the bus or train also saves you some money.
Reduce the pollution your car is causing
What can I do? If you must drive or use a car—and there will be times when you have to—here are some ways in which you can use your car more efficiently. Conduct regular check-ups on your car to ensure that it is still fuel-efficient. Car pooling with friends is also a great way of reducing the number of cars on the road. And if you’re considering buying a car, look for a small car rather than big, fuel-guzzling one, or try a hybrid or “green” car.
How will it help? Hybrid cars are still something new in Singapore, and they’re worth trying out. They’re more costly, but more environmentally friendly. If you drive a regular car, checking it regularly will optimize your gas usage and reduce gas emissions. Plus, unless you have five kids, ask yourself if it’s necessary to drive a hulking SUV that sucks up gas. Smaller cars look cute, have better gas mileage, and are way easier to park in our small parking lots and congested streets.
Any other benefits? You save fuel and money. Enough said.
How will it help? It’s pretty obvious that smoking like a chimney pollutes the air faster than you can say “haze.” Pollution from cigarette smoke even has a name—scientists call this type of air pollution “Environmental Tobacco Smoke” (ETS). Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals, of which at least 400 are poisonous. About 40 can cause cancer. These are present in both first and second hand smoke.
Any other benefits? You bet. Kick the habit and you’ll be healthier, save money, look younger, and, hey, smell better too. And, as every smoker knows, you’ll reduce your chances of contracting nasty diseases like lung cancer, heart and lung disease, blood vessel disease, and more. You shouldn’t put non-smokers at risk either. You know the drill.
Don’t crash and burn
How will it help? Okay, you just broke up with your better half and want to burn his or her photographs and stuff to a charred mess in a huge bonfire. But there are other ways to vent your frustration. Use some energy and shred his or her photos manually (and savagely). Or just throw them away. (On a different note, barbeque lovers should also stop engaging in their favorite activity so much. Gas grill, anyone?)
Any other benefits? Are you kidding? You just broke up with someone. You’re feeling lousy—the last thing you need is blackened lungs from all that smoke and soot! A bonfire is messy to clear up anyway. Spare a thought for the environment—and your lungs.
How will it help? If you go easy on the beans and onions and don’t let rip, everyone will be sniffing more pleasant air and not turning blue in the face from your toxic emissions.
Any other benefits? Er, you’ll be more popular? Oh, and you’ll get cleaner, more sweet-smelling air.