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Every Polluted Breath You Take

Air, oxygen, breathing – I admit these are not topics I tend to ponder as I go about my daily life. When in my car, I (Tamara) tend to be more concerned with evading Pompey traffic than about the effect I am having on the air quality. When I cycle around town trying to get past the self-same bumper-to-bumper traffic, I am not thinking about the fumes I am breathing in so much as trying to survive aggressive drivers.

But as with most things in life, it is all interconnected. Air quality in Portsmouth is at illegal and unsafe level. I first became aware of these issues when my local Portsmouth Green Party activists initiated the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign.

let pompey breathe

As a lazy environmentalist,  I prefer to have issues explained to me in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Here to do just that, in this special Thursday edition of Shades of Green, is Portsmouth Green Party activist and #LetPompeyBreathe spokesperson Tim Sheerman-Chase.

Me: Hihi Tim! Thanks for joining me via email to talk about the air quality issue in Portsmouth. As some of our readers may not be aware of the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign, what it is all about and what is your role in this?

Tim: #LetPompeyBreathe is a campaign group aiming to get Portsmouth’s air pollution within safe and legal limits. It is affiliated with Portsmouth Green Party, Friends of the Earth, local neighbourhood forums and other concerned groups.

My role is as spokesperson, blogger and researcher of government published reports. These tend to be fairly large and impenetrable, but I am assisted by my science background. I am the lead petitioner on the petition currently before Portsmouth City Council.

 

In a nutshell, what is the problem with our air quality?

Portsmouth is one of the worst cities in the UK for air quality, with pollution levels in continuous breach of both legal limits specified in the EU Air Quality Directive, English law, and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

 

Is the air pollution a problem across the whole city or is it localised to certain areas?

Pollution levels greatly vary around the city. Some particularly bad areas include:

  • Hampshire Terrace/Queens Street
  • The top of Commercial Road
  • London Road/Fratton Road/Kingston Road
  • Eastern Way/Milton Road

The residential areas of Southsea, Milton and Tipner have relatively better air quality.

Traffic is the largest factor in local air pollution. Diesel engines are particularly bad, particularly from diesel cars, buses and heavy goods vehicles. This is probably the easiest area to make improvements and bring pollution to within safe limits.

 

Gulp…I used to have a diesel car as I thought it was better for the environment than petrol cars! Luckily, it broke down on me and was replaced with a petrol-electric hybrid. What other individual actions can we take?

It is difficult to avoid air pollution completely for an individual person, apart from moving away from cities! However, you can reduce exposure by avoiding busy roads at peak times. Pollution is far worse inside vehicles than outside, so you can help yourself (while helping your community) by reducing car usage. Try to use public transport, cycling and walking instead, even if only for one day a week extra.

 

What is it specifically about our air quality that is unsafe?

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj72L-0HpmR/?taken-by=pompeygreens

There are various types of pollution – Portsmouth has a particular issue with the levels of small particulate pollution (PM2.5) exceeding WHO safe limits. We also breach the annual NO2 limits in several locations.

 

Particulate pollution?

Particulate pollution (also known as particulate matter), is the general term for the solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Small particulate pollution is fine microscopic inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometres and smaller.

 

How is air pollution measured and who regulates it?

Regulations have been put in place to address the problem. Among the most significant is the UK law Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010. This specifies legally binding limits on the UK government for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate pollution.

 

That is a great start but it’s one thing to know there’s a problem and set national regulations and another to actually take positive action on a local level- what is actually being done about it?  Why are the council and government not being held to account?

As you said, government bodies often ignore their responsibilities and 278 of the 391 local authorities missed the legal targets in 2017.

These legal limits are gradually being enforced. The European court of justice is threatening the UK and five other countries with multi-million Euro fines if they do not comply with legal limits.  Three successive High Court victories have been won by ClientEarth over the UK government, with the government’s plans being found to be inadequate.

Responsibility has largely been given to local government, which have taken some steps to deal with it but far stronger measures need to be taken. Part of the ClientEarth ruling found that central government does not have a sufficient enforcement for local authorities to meet these legal limits. Being underfunded, local government is having difficulty in taking suitable measures. Also, in many councils, the political will to address the problem is lacking.

 

How does the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign hold Portsmouth City Council to account?

#LetPompeyBreathe has two main goals: to raise public awareness and to encourage Portsmouth City Council to take further action.

At a local level, there are two documents that the council are required to produce: an air quality strategy and an action plan. Currently, #LetPompeyBreathe are petitioning the council to urgently publish its Air Quality Action Plan for consultation. In the two months since the petition went live, we have gathered the required 1000 signatures for the issue to be discussed at the next Full Council meeting which is in July (and handed them in on Clean Air Day – which is today).

 

As for the effectiveness of petitioning, politicians respond to public pressure particularly when well organized. If they see there is a clear demand for something to be done, we are in a much better position. The petition is only one step in the campaign.

 

What specific actions could the council take to rectify the air pollution problem?

There are many things, including:

  • improve walking and cycling routes
  • make the urban environment safer and more pleasant
  • make public transport easier to use, more integrated, cheaper and cleaner
  • reduce car use through careful city planning

MPs from different parties have been calling for a new Clean Air Act which will greatly strengthen monitoring and control of pollutants. We also need to shift the cost of pollution on to the polluter, particularly in egregious cases like Dieselgate and the car manufacturers.

Most large cities will require a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to bring air pollution to within safe limits within a reasonable time.

 

Tim, thank you for taking the time to inform us about the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign and petition. Dear Reader, please sign the petition, if you haven’t already and share it with your friends, family, acquaintances and frenemies.

How to recycle your mobile phone and donate to Portsmouth Green Party

Hallo, it’s Tamara here, home recycling and zero waste enthusiast, with some more tips on how to recycle in Pompey. I’m all about doing what is easy and manageable and today’s post enables you to help save the environment, recycle your old phones and ink cartridges as well as support your local Portsmouth Green Party, all at the same time and with minimum effort. Bonus!

The Portsmouth Green Party has recently joined two schemes which facilitate the recycling of printer ink cartridges and mobile phones. You can recycle your inkjet cartridges and mobile phones with Recycle4Charity and your laser/toner cartridges and all other printer consumables through Zero Waste Recycling. Of course, there are other recycling schemes and charities that you can donate to – but I’m all about the Green Party and so is this blog!

Each item you recycle will raise money to support our local campaigns, i.e. the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign, we are raising awareness on the unsafe air quality in Portsmouth.  

Every penny donated to us makes a difference as we campaign to make real and lasting changes in Portsmouth by electing Portsmouth’s first green councillor in Fratton. To give you an idea, it costs £20 to print 100 posters, so every £1 raised through recycled printer cartridges buys us five posters! That’s five more potential votes!

 

So how exactly does one recycle these printer cartridges and archaic brick-like mobile phones that have been in a plastic bag so long the bag has started to disintegrate? (Please say it’s not just me that does that!). Well, the lovely Alexa, a local Pompey Green Party campaigner and all round lovely person, has done the research for us! Thanks Alexa! (not sponsored by Amazon!)

Recycle Inkjet Printer Cartridges & Mobile Phones

 

 

Through the Recycle4Charity’s free service, the Portsmouth Green Party will receive £1 for every empty, reusable inkjet printer cartridge that you send them and that is on their ‘wanted list’ and up to £70 for every mobile phone. All mobile phones- even those that are broken and faulty- and 188 inkjet cartridges brands that fulfil their criteria are accepted.  

 

Click here to order envelopes or a box to fill with your recyclable items. You will need to register your details, choose your beneficiary (Portsmouth Green Party – C85428) and the recycling envelopes/ box will be sent to you free of charge.  Each envelope can hold up to 5 inkjet cartridges. Mobile phones must be returned via a box and this can only be collected once it is filled with 25 items (can be a mixture of mobile phones and inkjet cartridges). Envelopes are sent via freepost and box collection is also free!

 

We are also happy to take inkjet cartridges or mobile phones from you at local Green Party meetings or events.  Our regular local party meeting now takes place on the second Monday of the month at the Havelock Centre, Fawcett Road.

 

With Recycle4Charity, there is a criteria on what they accept. The inkjet cartridges must be in a suitable condition to be recycled. They must not have  been refilled before and carry only the original equipment manufacturers branding.

 

Please note that you cannot put Epson or Kodak cartridges in the recycling envelopes as their value will not cover postage costs, but do not despair, these can be included in a box.

 

And keep reading, as you can also recycle your printer cartridges that have been refilled or are not manufacturers branding etc. with their sister scheme Zero Waste Recycling! So happily nothing need go to landfill.

 

Recycling ALL Printer Consumables

 

 

To enable you to recycle even more, we’ve also joined Zero Waste Recycling, which offers a facility for all printer consumables in which they will recycle or reuse all materials. Zero Waste Recycling is the scheme for you if you use cartridges that can’t be recycled with Recycle4Charity such as compatible printer cartridges rather than market brands, laser toner cartridges or use inktanks rather than inkjets (yes, there is a difference and no, I didn’t know that before writing!), as they accept basically all printer consumables you want to dispose of, whether original, damaged, remanufactured or compatible, no matter what brand or model.

 

This includes:

 

  • Inkjet Cartridges
  • Inktank Cartridges
  • Laser Cartridges
  • Toner Bottles
  • Imaging Units
  • Drum Units
  • Fuser Units
  • Transfer Belts
  • Waste Toner Bottles

 

You can order a box to return your items for a fee, or use your own box, so long as it fits their size and weight criteria. There is a fee involved for the collection of the box.  For reusable cartridges that have a high market value, you will receive a rebate which you can choose to put towards future collections or donate to us.

 

Click here to register and to book a collection of all types of printer consumables, including laser toner cartridges.

 

What I really like about the Zero Waste Recycling scheme is that they provide a Zero Waste Certificate which is your proof that none of your printer consumable waste went into incineration or landfill. Do you remember the myths and misreporting that recycling just ends up in landfill? No such worries here!  It doesn’t by the way and here’s a 2016 Huffington Post article that addresses that.

 

Why not start up a collection at work or among your housemates to fill the boxes more quickly?

 

Remember, each and every item you recycle or reuse means that one less item is being sent to landfill or incinerator – and it really does make a difference, no matter the size. And to paraphrase the advice of Dory, the loveable forgetful royal blue tang fish, just keep recycling!

 

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