Learn more about Pollution

toxic pollution

Pollution. This is one word that we could be use to describe one of the consequences and legacies of the past approximate one hundred years of human activity on Earth. Think about it. There are so many different types of pollution and they generally exist because of what we have done, what we do and how we do it. Of course, we have seem some incredible useful and helpful technological advancements over the same period of time, and in some parts of the world some substantial and necessary improvements in living standards. It has not been without an environmental cost however and pollution aptly demonstrates this.

What can say today though, is that pollution is no longer a necessity for improving standards of living or technological advancement. Indeed you could argue that better technologies today should help to alleviate or prevent the majority of our pollution. The aim of this page is to highlight aspects of pollution to you and encourage you to take actio to minimise it in your world and through your actions.

Pollution comes in many guises, we list here just a few examples, that will hopefully illustrate to you how we are still not living our lives in a sustainable manner and that, without a change in our overall behaviour, we are creating problems for future generations, our children and then their children, to have to deal with. Do you really want your children to ask why our generation did nothing when we knew what the problems were? I certainly don't and hopefully you do not want this too, especially when there are solutions!

Pollution of our Air

Compare the air in your cities to your rural areas. You will observe a noticeable difference in quality. In some cities the pollution can be so bad on some still, hot sunny days that it is difficult to breathe normally. It certainly isn't good for you or for the environment in general. This pollution normally originates from vehicles and industry.

These days air pollution is often much improved in the developed world, compared to the recent past, in that many of the gases emitted now are less obviously noxious to us, as the more dangerous ones to us are filtered out. This doesn't mean that these less noxious gases are not pollutants of our air, and still there are health concerns as not all nasty pollutants are removed from vehicle and industrial processes! We know that they can still cause health problems like asthma for example, and they contribute to other less obvious issues such as global warming. Carbon dioxide, for example, is emitted by vehicles, and although it is odourless, it causes global warming. What's more some of the cities in the less developed world are not as lucky as those in the developed world and still have vehicles and industry that openly pollutes the air wihtout filtering out the worst pollutant gases, so those gases considered undesirable in the developed world, still pollute cities in the developing countries.

Living and working in these cities is not pleasant and it is unacceptable that in todays world people should have to live and work in such environments, especialy when we know the adverse affects they have. Technologies exist to reduce such damaging pollution, they just cost a little bit of extra money, but many are not prepared to invest in them unless they are forced to by law. Unregulated air pollution causes a number of health problems, in particular respiratory ones, but also possibly some lung cancers; plus it can also lead to acid rain which damages fragile natural environments and important ancient monuments. It is also again one of the the main causes of global warming. Isn't it time that we used technology to stop all air pollution and used the law to ensure it happens. We can, as individuals, help to ensure that this happens both through our own actions as consumers, and through how we use our democratic vote. We have written a page where you can discover lots of simple ideas about how we can stop pollution. Let's clean up our world!

Pollution of our Land

rubbish bin

How much rubbish do you throw away each week in plastic bags for municipal rubbish collections to take away and how much do you actively recycle? How much more could you recycle with a tiny bit of extra effort or with a little more knowledge of what could recycle and where to recycle it? Do you ever ask yourself, where does the rubbish you throw away into plastic bags go? Is it a case of out of sight, out of mind? Imagine for a moment the amount of rubbish you throw away each week. How many bags is it?

Now imagine this combined with the amount of rubbish your neighbour throws away each week. Now your whole street...your whole town...your whole province/state/county...etc... Do you know exactly where it goes, other than a landfill site somewhere else? Do you care? How much of that rubbish is biodegradable or possibly recyclable? Do you make a conscious effort to buy packaging that degrades easily or do you hardly even think about it? There are many questions that really we as a consumer society should ask oursleves and then take some action to remedy it, because if we don't, there will be problems down the line.

Much of the rubbish we throw away is compacted and dumped in landfill sites. Much of it is not bio-degradable or decays very slowly and will remain in the ground for a very long time. We can't keep dumping in landfills forever, can we? Incineration plants (that burn our rubbish) are not popular with us, we don't want them on our back door, yet what other options do we have if we keep discarding things which do not break down easily in the natural environment? Well, there are several actually...Reduce. Recycle. Reuse. Recycle again!

You can read and learn a lot more about specific examples of land pollution in our full guide to land pollution here.

Reducing, Recycling and Reusing our 'Rubbish'!

recycling guide placard

To reduce the amount of rubbish we make we need to use less packaging, which isn't always easy, but when we are out shopping we can look for items that use a reduced amount of packaging. With any packaging that we do use, we need to make sure it will not hang around for years and years in our landfills or cause land pollution whne carelessly discarded, so ideally it should always be bio-degradable wherever possible, check the packaging labels to see if it is. Most retailers are proud of the fact they use packaging that degrades naturally in the environment and make a big point of telling you on the label. Simple really, but maybe many businesses still need a bit of a push from the consumer (us!) to really get these things moving. Vote with what you buy and what you do and this will encourage better business practice and help reduce landfill and toxic pollutants in our land environments.

Recycling has become more important and more prevalent in recent years. It is important because it helps to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill and also recycles limited natural resources, such as various widely used metals. Read our recycling guide and find out more about recycling and what you can recycle.

Finally, if we cannot reduce or recycle, then we should certainly reuse whatever is still useful. We can do that through repairing broken items, or donating and selling unwanted things so that they can be used again. Again, our recycling guide will give you an idea of what you can sell for reuse and where you can sell it.

No more unnecessary waste...we cannot throw away forever!

Pollution of our Seas

sea pollution

Sometimes this is the hardest pollution to detect given the extent of our oceans, but also the easiest when you have devastating events such as oil spills. Our marine environments are very special and there is lot we do not know about them which is awaiting discovery. They should be treasured not only for their uniqueness, but also the important food sources they give us. Some pollution has been known to accumulate in fish (as their bodies cannot get rid of it) and once there it can enter our food chain and accumulate in us. At certain levels such pollution is toxic and can cause serious health problems.

In the past we have dumped nuclear waste in our seas, we have dumped disused oil rigs, and we have dumped all manner of other rubbish. We need to respect this environment and should certainly not abuse it.

Conclusion

We do now have technologies that can prevent much of the pollution that we have caused in the past and that we still continue to propagate. We have improved and we are improving but really we can get better at a much faster rate, it just requires a little more effort, a little more investment and a little more support from government, industry and us individuals. Indeed we arguably have the most power as consumers as we can vote with our feet and our opinions to encourage positive change and positive investment. It does not have to cost us our living standards but if we do not take sustained action now it might just cost future generations, our children and their children, the ability to live their lives how we have lived ours. Please refer to our what you CAN do section for advice about some of the things you CAN do to make a positive change to THE environment and bring about change in your world. Thank you for reading about pollution. Please think about it and do whatever you can do.