Beat Air Pollution on World Environment Day
On World Environment Day we have dedicated a post to deepen our knowledge of the environment and to understand what we can do to give our contribution and help prevent climate change.
Since 1972 the United Nations has acknowledged that the protection and improvement of the environment is an issue affecting human and animal well-being and economic growth throughout the world. On 5 June 1972, during a Stockholm Conference it was decided that World Environment Day would be celebrated each year.
Since its inception the yearly campaign offers groups the opportunity to promote and organise events related to the theme. Organisations, governments, schools, universities and citizens can use this day to raise awareness and promote action.
Every year the country who hosts the main event decides the theme of the year. For 2019, China hosted choosing the theme "Beat the air pollution”. A call to action to combat a global crisis. It is a challenge that pushes us to consider how to change our everyday life in order to reduce the amount of air pollution in our cities. The ultimate goal is to have clean air for a healthy and safe future.
Ella—and every one of the 600,000 other children who died from #AirPollution this year deserved to have full, healthy lives. They deserved to have their hopes and dreams. And they deserved to breathe clean air. Clean air is a human right.
World Environment Day helps us to better understand, inform and find out what air pollution is. Do we really understand how many types of air pollution exist? Do we know how this affects our health and the environment?
Air pollution is one of the biggest ecological problems and we are still learning to deal with how harmful it is for us and our planet. It is the greatest risk to environmental health of our time. Pollutants are responsible for about seven million deaths each year and air pollution is radically altering our climate having profound effects on the planet.
Mountain glaciers have been steadily retreating over the past few decades due to climate change. Now, studies show that air pollution is also contributing a great deal to their demise.
The fashion industry is guilty of contributing to air pollution being responsible for exuding Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's), polluting particles that are released into the atmosphere by detergents, combustion gases and reactive components used in different processes. The processes that involve harmful emissions are slushing, sizing, singeing, heat setting, dyeing, printing, and finishing. Leading to the fashion industry being the 2nd largest polluter on this planet after oil.
This is why the way we consume is so important. Sustainability is not about making everyone feel guilty for not shopping ethically but rather it is about educating on the importance of making more intelligent purchase decisions in order to understand that the way we consume has an impact on the world around us.
In order to reduce our impact we need to be buying less, saying no to fast fashion. We do not need the amount of clothing we own, it is so important to invest in one off pieces that are better quality, made from higher end materials, that are organic and that are not filled with chemicals or synthetic fibres.
Issues with fast fashion;
1. Made from cheaper fabrics - meaning when you wash your items they don’t last and are damaged easily. They contain more micro-fibres which are then emitted into our oceans as well as harmful chemicals that impact our health and the health of the planet.
2. Cheaper production - meaning less time has been put into each garment resulting in the general make of an item having less attention to detail and therefore the seams are not re-forced and general details that you add onto garments to help them last will not have been included. Again resulting in the idea of throw away fashion, wearing once as these products are not made to last. Not to mention the harm incurred to the people working in the factories being subject to abuse, low wages, child labour, salvery, lack of health and safety, sexual harassment and long working hours.
3. Cheaper planning - in order to bring a product into production a certain level of planning has to have taken place. For fast fashion brands they often skip the fitting process meaning garments do not fit the way they should, less time has been taken to think about different ways the customer can wear this item in order to get the most out of the product. They are literally designed to only wear a few times.
By using recycled materials, reducing over consumption, using organic materials that use less of our planets resources, less chemicals and less water the fashion sector can help tackle pollution.
If industries can implement significant changes to reduce emissions we too as citizens can make small steps to improve the air we breathe. We could travel on foot, by bike or public transport; commit to reducing waste, cutting out plastic and organise periodical rubbish clean-ups in our areas. According to the World Health Organisation, nine out of 10 people breathe toxic air every day and this air contributes to ongoing climate change.
Artists are highlighting environmental issues by using their work as a medium for a greater message. They are using alternative methods to mitigate the problem through communication and raising awareness.
There is only so much impact us as individuals can make, the really change that is needed is on a corporate and government level. By joining forces together, making our voices loader we can get governments to change legislation to help our planet.
Artist Justin Brice Guariglia; "We are currently witnessing the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced, governments are short term focused and tied to corporate motivations leaving us the people struggling to find a way out of this mess”. Justin goes on to explain that this leaves us no option but to increase the dialogue on a personal and visual level. We need to have a human not corporate agenda and continue to get in front of legal systems to in act change, just like Extinction Rebellion.
Climate change is so crucial, it is going to be years before we understand it on a human level. We need to understand our blind spots if we are going to survive as a species there are holes in our understanding.
He goes onto to explain after researching with Nasa on their earth science mission in Greenland that 100 million Olympic size swimming pools equals the amount of ice lost every year in Greenland alone which is going into the ocean and melting. The rapidly thinning sea ice in Eastern Greenland is at an all-time low. This is a clear testament and sums up our understanding today of the natural world and our ecological footprint.
Artist Micheal Pinsky gave his contribution with his project “Pollution Pods”. Pinsky created five geodesic domes, each of which represents air quality in 5 different cities: London, Northern Norway, New Delhi, Beijing and Sao Paulo. Moving through the domes, the various levels and sources of atmospheric pollution are exemplified; passing through increasing polluted cells, from dry and cold to warm and humid locations.
In London's dome Pinsky has recreated the smell of diesel, in Beijing's a mix of industrial smells, fumes, coal, and transportation emissions. The purpose of Pollutions Pods is to lead a radical approach to the problem.
Image Credits: Somerset House and CYBR Magazine
Following a visit to Mumbai, engineer Anirudh Sharma experienced the terrible air quality brought about by vehicle emissions. Upon returning to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston he created "Graviky Labs", a start-up that develops technology capable of capturing the discharged particles. Once collected they are transformed into ink, refereed to as Air-Ink by artists all over the world. "Less pollution, more art,” said Sharma.
With all the events and projects taking place it is the perfect opportunity to educate ourselves more on the problem, mobilise political action and celebrate the achievements of humanity. Check out the World Environment Day website to find events near you and start to take steps in the right direction. Beat air pollution with the United Nations and Fabric For Freedom.
Tag us in your stories and posts on social media and show us how you are beating air pollution. Use the official World Environmental Day hashtag #BeatAirPollution and our hashtag #FabricForFreedom.
Air pollution is preventable and solutions are at hand.
Let's show the world that the time to act is now.