Your feedback matters! Your survey responses combined with the latest research helped to inform us on what we include in the clean air pledge for individuals. Going into our 5th year, here’s what we added and what we dropped:
New pledge items
Don’t burn wood or switch to a cleaner non-wood burning stove
Small particles and toxic chemicals from wood smoke can cause serious health problems, especially in children, older adults, and those with heart or respiratory problems. In places like the Bay Area, residential wood burning is actually the biggest source of emissions during the winter. The good news is that there are increasing alternatives to significantly lower emissions at home and in your community.
Rent and/or test-drive an electric vehicle
Purchasing an electric vehicle has always been a part of the clean air pledge. While we are proud to say that some folks did go through and make a purchase, we recognize that’s a big ask. This year we’re meeting you halfway. California Clean Air Day is the perfect time to test drive an electric vehicle (look for lots of ride-and-drive events to come) and for those who want something a little longer, the number of rental options is increasing by the day.
Start home composting
Methane emissions have been called a “super pollutant” because its footprint is so much greater than other pollutants. Many of these emissions start with how we dispose of our food and landscape waste. The good news is that there are a variety of ways you can get involved in the effort to control emissions from food waste. This article gives a good overview of a few of them.
Attend meetings remotely instead of driving or flying
In an effort to improve fuel efficiency, the engines commonly used in our airlines now burn much hotter. Unfortunately, this means that they are producing ultrafine particles, which are so small they bypass the lungs’ defensive systems to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. The good news is that research has shown we can be just as efficient at taking that meeting remotely as we have been in person. If you do have to fly, consider taking one of the airlines that have invested in Sustainable Aviation Fuel, which has been shown to be better from both a climate and air quality perspective and if you drive, consider borrowing or renting and electric vehicle.
Dropped pledge items
We learned a lot about human psychology while the Covid stay-at-home orders were in effect. While vehicle miles traveled drastically decreased in the beginning, the most recent research indicates they actually increased toward the end. As it turns out, it becomes a lot easier to jump in your car to run errands while you aren’t at work. There are other factors as well: here’s an article that talks about just how complicated telecommuting is as a solution to our environmental challenges.
Although we may have removed telecommuting from the pledge, it doesn’t mean you can’t do better working from home. If you are one of those people working from home, we encourage you to think about riding a bike, taking public transit, or walking to the store, gym, or wherever life may take you.
Plant an indoor plant
Although the greening of the indoor space has lots of benefits, improving air quality in most cases is not necessarily one of them. This article does a great job of explaining the latest science behind the role of plants and indoor air quality.
Don’t forget that the pledge is not meant to be all-encompassing
We’d like to remind everyone that we include a fillable element to the clean air pledge because there are many things we can all do to protect public health, improve air quality, and prevent climate change. The most important thing is that we all take action.
Let’s clear the air – together!