|The sheer number of people living and working in towns and cities has a big impact on the environment. Air pollution, in particular, is a growing problem in many areas and one that is keenly felt in London especially. In fact, new research by the Greater London Authority found that nearly 9 in 10 people in the capital are worried about air pollution, while two-thirds feel the air quality is bad in their local area. And crucially, almost three-quarters want ministers to do more to address the issue.
Interestingly, a separate report by the Mayor of London’s office shows people are right to be concerned, as every London borough recorded illegally high air pollution levels over the last 2 years. Furthermore, long-term exposure to air pollution was found to be responsible for the premature deaths of more than 9,000 Londoners.
So could businesses in all parts of the country benefit from tapping into the public concern over this particular issue? The answer is yes, as there are plenty of steps they can take to tackle poor air quality and show they care about the environment at the same time.
Think green when purchasing vehicles
Consider the green credentials of your fleet and when it is time to upgrade or replace vehicles, go for eco-friendly options where possible. You might even be able to get grants to purchase plug-in cars or vans, if it seems prohibitively costly. Once you’ve switched to a greener fleet, let your customers and other road users know by affixing car window stickers or window hangers printed with your eco-credentials.
Promote alternatives to driving to work
Much of the air pollution in your area comes from employees driving to work, so why not develop travel plans that encourage alternatives? For instance, equipping staff with cycling accessories such as bicycle seat covers and lights could motivate them into cycling to work. Promoting bus, train or tram routes, or even good walking routes near your office, could also be worthwhile. Why not encourage walking further by equipping staff with devices such as pedometers, as it reinforces the idea that exercise is not only eco-friendly but also good for a person’s health.
Air pollution is at its worst during the morning and evening rush hours, due to the sheer number of people driving to and from work at the same time. Employers could help to ease the traffic by encouraging flexible working practices, such as allowing people to start work earlier or later or permitting staff to work remotely. Remote working relies on having the right technical infrastructure in place, and employers could also provide equipment such as USB flash drives, headphones and speakers that would prove useful when working offsite.
Air quality is an issue that people feel strongly about, so it certainly pays to not only try to tackle the problem, but also to actively tell people what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It could be invaluable in showing you care about the same things as your customers, and that you have a social and environmental conscience.
Sources / Further Reading
9 out of 10 Londoners say air pollution is at ‘crisis’ levels – poll London.gov
What you can do to improve air quality Southwark Council