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World Environment Day 2019 Air Pollution

05/06/2019 in RZSS

Electric car charging station at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo
(RZSS staff member test driving an electric car)

This year’s World Environment Day centres around Air Pollution; what it is, why we should care and what we can do about it. You may think it’s just huge factories in industrial cities to blame for reducing air quality and that solving the problem is out of the control of individuals… but you’d only be partly correct! It is a complex issue affecting both outdoor environments and within our homes and, whilst big industrial companies certainly must do their bit, everyone has a part to play in reducing harmful emissions.

Why should we care? Well, as well as an environmental issue and closely linked with global warming, air pollution is also a serious health hazard. In the UK 20,711 deaths are attributed to air pollution each year. How we discard our waste, how we travel, what we eat and how we cook it, all significantly impact our individual contribution to air pollution. You can reduce your impact by choosing a plant-based diet, switching energy providers to a company using clean and renewable fuel and by cycling or using public transport instead of private car. Making some of these lifestyle adjustments not only helps the environment, they can have some financial benefits too.

At RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and our Highland Wildlife Park we use green energy, monitor our electricity and water usage and share monthly totals with all staff as motivation to reduce them. The Green Team has worked with staff from all departments to find and fix leaks, install new and improved infrastructure and train staff across the Society. We’ve managed to install waterless urinals, swapped bulbs from LED lighting and changed our vehicles to be ultra-low emission including running all off-road vehicles on a Gas-to-Liquid diesel fuel alternative.

Last year we diverted over 77 tons of waste from landfill. You may have even directly contributed to that by using our Reverse Vending Machine that issued coupons in exchange for plastic bottles. If you missed out, be sure to look out for this scheme if you visit the Highland Wildlife Park this Summer. At Edinburgh Zoo we’re also working to install a new zero waste contract for all visitor waste. This means by the end of 2019 all visitor waste will be sent for composting, recycling and where possible for energy recovery. Edinburgh Council has also been working towards a Zero Waste Project that includes reducing the landfilling of biodegradable and food waste which release harmful gases when openly burnt or left in landfill.   You can also contribute by aiming to reduce your household waste and sorting what you do need to throw away into the correct bins.

The harmful effects of air pollution are swept around the world through atmospheric circulation. This is a problem that we all face and making a meaningful difference will require a team effort. Will you join us and pledge to #BeatAirPollution this World Environment Day?

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