Building a brighter future for the planet is no longer the stuff of rhetoric – it’s a real, concrete imperative. With leaders at the historical December 2015 Paris summit agreeing to work together to prevent the global temperature from increasing more than 2 degrees, we are all of us committed to tackling climate change – and we need to think about how we, as individuals, can contribute. But we need to consider the effect the environment is having on us just as much as the effect we are having on the environment – with pollution killing up to 9,000 people a year in the capital, it has a more direct impact on your health than you might realise.
So how can we learn to live in harmony with our environment, rather than destroying it and ourselves simultaneously? What are some of the scientific advances which have been developed to help protect our health? And how worried should we really be?
Pollution and the Human Body
Air pollution constitutes a high-priority threat to human health – and it’s particularly dangerous for children. Most people are, by now, aware of the devastating effects of smoking on one’s respiratory health, but fewer people take note of the fact that the air in London, for example, is allegedly as toxic as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. We all know the dangers of walking down a dark backstreet in a busy city, but it seems that the risks of city living are further reaching than most of us consider – pollution causes everything from strokes through to heart disease through to lung cancer, and, unlike smoking, it’s an entirely involuntary risk-factor.
Even worse, one of our most frequently used, transformative materials may also have a detrimental effect on the human body. Plastic is used in everything from baby bottles to flooring and roofing, and it’s been shown that the chemicals which are added to it are absorbed by our bodies – phthalates and bisphenol A are both found in measurable quantities in the human body, and have been shown to affect reproduction and development. Plastics-based flame retardants are linked with cancer, and this is all quite separate from the mounting problem of plastic’s incredibly slow rate of degradation – so what can we do to protect ourselves and our environment?
How to Protect Yourself from Pollution
Our founder, Tej Kohli (net worth: £4.5 billion) has made a considerable slice of his fortune through investing in sustainable energy – and consequently, environmental health is something we spend a lot of time thinking about here at Kohli Ventures. We all need to be conscious of the environment while purchasing products – and this consideration feeds into our health, too.
For example, if you’re concerned about plastic landfills (as well as the potential issues caused from drinking from plastic bottles), purchase a glass reusable water bottle from a company like Grip and Go. Try to avoid unnecessary packaging, even if it makes your shop a little less convenient, and always reuse plastic carrier bags. Reusable is the name of the game here – whether it’s a lunchbox, rather than buying sandwiches in plastic packing, or buying grains from bulk-bins and using your own container.
If you live in a city and pollution is your top concern, consider buying a pollution mask for use when travelling through particularly congested areas, or if you exercise or run outside – ok, other people might give you funny looks, but do you really care when your health is at stake? Consider buying an air purifier, avoid air-fresheners and never let anyone smoke in your home. You should also be doing everything in your power to reduce your own emissions – use public transport, minimise your gas and electricity use and use energy-efficient appliances.
Tackling environmental issues can seem daunting – but it needs to be done, and it truly is a case of every little helps. Protect yourself, and protect your environment – it’s better for everyone in the long-term.