Dec. 17, 2012

The holidays are all about celebrating good health and cheer with friends and family. But did you know the holidays often bring a spike in harmful air contaminants and greenhouse gas emissions in the Sea to Sky / Howe Sound Airshed? Most of the emissions are the result of an increase in travel and fireplace usage. Many, such as particulate matter, are harmful to human health especially that of children, seniors and those with ambulatory care sensitive conditions like asthma. GhGs contribute to climate change and some contaminants diminish visibility, both of which can negatively impact tourism and, by extension, our local economy. Here are some easy tips to keep your family and our airshed healthy over the holidays:

  1. Be Idle-Free. Idling wastes fuel and money, and results in needless emissions. Idling longer than 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more CO2 compared to restarting your engine, and doesn’t add to significant wear and tear on modern day batteries and motors. Even when it’s cold outside, the best way to warm-up your vehicle is by driving it, not idling.
  2. Travel Smart. For many, the holidays mean traveling long distances to be close to loved ones and attending lots of parties. Using public transportation will cut down on emissions and stress caused by driving. Hosting one large gathering instead of several smaller ones will drastically reduce trips and it’s a great way of bringing new people together to celebrate the holiday spirit.  If you’re flying, consider purchasing carbon offsets with your flight.
  3. Burn Clean. Lighting up the fireplace over the holidays makes for a cozy atmosphere, but it also releases particulate matter into the atmosphere. If you must burn, make sure your wood is properly ‘seasoned,’ which means its moisture content is less than 20%. To achieve this, make sure your wood is stacked and stored under a covered area for at least 6 months and cracks are visible along the cut edges.  Never burn garbage, plastics, cardboard or Styrofoam, which release poisons. If burning candles, try soy candles because they are clean burning. Soy was does not produce black soot like the paraffin wax does.
  4. Shop Local. You can avoid the emissions and hassle of driving long-distances, while supporting your local economy by shopping locally. Consider giving experiences instead of goods, or giving presents with little to no packaging in order to reduce emissions caused by producing and transporting goods, and managing waste.
  5. Shovel by hand-Skip the snow blower and shovel your driveway the old fashioned way- by hand. You’ll reduce emissions and save money, while preventing extra holiday pounds!

Happy Holidays!!