First, it was microbeads. The tiny plastic beads found in soaps and other cosmetic products were reported to be filling our waterways, absorbing toxins, and poisoning their surrounding ecosystems. Immediately, concerned individuals were up in arms and the “ban the bead” campaign was in full force. Now there’s another manufactured threat to our waterways: synthetic fibers used to make waterproof fabrics. This time, however, fewer people seem to be paying attention.
Waterproof gear is an integral part of many activities, including those involved in the study of marine life, so what can we do to reconcile between the damage caused by these fabrics and the activities they enable? The answer may be simpler than you think, but widespread adoption is contingent on increased awareness of the issue.
What’s In The Water?
First, let’s take a step back in an attempt to better understand what’s in our water. There are two major ways that waterproof materials are polluting our environment, first through synthetic fibers that are washed into the ocean, much like microbeads, and second through chemicals called perflurocarbons (PFCs) used to make conventional materials waterproof.
We’re just beginning to understand the dangers of synthetic fibers, but the dangers of PFCs are pretty clear. High levels of these chemicals can cause immune and endocrine issues and kidney cancer. Areas with significant PFC spikes also see an increase in certain types of birth defects, and those directly exposed to waterproofing sprays containing PFC-related chemicals often suffer respiratory problems.
Changing What We Buy
Now, knowing what we do about PFCs and related waterproof materials, the onus is on manufacturers and consumers to change course and eliminate our reliance on these products – for our own health and the health of our environment. One way we should be approaching this is by more carefully researching waterproof products and seeking natural, sustainable alternatives for situations that call for waterproof fabrics.
Hockey is a prime example of an activity that demands waterproof products. Because players and their gear are exposed to cold, wet conditions, wearing waterproof clothing and carrying protective, water-resistant bags is important. Failure to do so can cause frostbite, hypothermia, and damage to clothes, skates, and other items, so it’s important to find alternative ways to waterproof such items.
The best way to deal with the problem of chemically hazardous waterproofing is to use natural products that have been around for hundreds of years. Beeswax, for example, has long been used to waterproof items. Though it’s less convenient than commercial waterproofing sprays, it’s also natural and biodegradable and won’t harm plants or animals if it gets into the water supply. Choosing to waterproof with materials like beeswax, however, means choosing conservation over convenience.
As responsible, global citizens, we are called to choose sustainable alternatives whenever possible. It’s why we should be choosing organic cotton clothing over pollution nylon and polyester manufactured from petrochemicals, and why we should choose solar or wind energy over fossil fuels or coal. In order to do this, we need to make these choices even when they aren’t easily visible, even when we can’t see their destructive effects firsthand, as is the case with waterproof fibers. We need to look beyond what we can easily see.
Now that we are aware that waterproof fibers and associated chemicals are actively destroying parts of our ecosystem and costing human lives, we have the responsibility to act and to advocate for alternatives because the companies that profit from toxic materials won’t hand them to us.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.
Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution
The UK public appears to be embracing the electric car UK Green Revolution, as recent statistics reveal that more and more consumers are making the switch from petrol and diesel to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles. The demand for diesel fell by almost a third in October compared to last year, whilst hybrid and electric cars rose by a staggering 36.9%.
Time for UK Green Revolution Change
So, what is the reason for this sudden change? This comes down to the current situation in the UK, which has led to people embracing eco-friendly technologies and automobiles. One of the main reasons is the Government’s clean air plans, which includes the impending 2040 ban on petrol and diesel automobiles. There is then the rollout of the T-Charge in London, the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel from the city centre by 2020 and various other big announcements which take up a lot of space and time in the UK press.
In addition to this, the negative publicity against diesel has had a huge impact on the UK public. This has led to a lot of confusion over emissions, but actually, the newest low emission diesel automobiles will not face restrictions and are not as bad to drive as many believe. Most notably, German brand Volkswagen has been affected due to the emissions scandal in recent times. It was discovered that some emissions controls for VW’s turbocharged direct injection diesel engines were only activated during laboratory testing, so these automobiles were emitting 40 times more NO in real-world driving. As a result of this and all the negative publicity, the manufacturer has made adaptations and amended their vehicles in Europe. Additionally, they have made movements to improve the emissions from their cars, meaning that they are now one of the cleaner manufacturers. Their impressive range includes the Polo, Golf and Up, all of which can be found for affordable prices from places like Unbeatable Car.
The Current Market
The confusion over the Government’s current stance on diesel has clearly had a huge impact on the public. So much so that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to restore stability in the market and encourage the public to invest in the latest low emission automobiles. SMMT believes that this is the fastest and most effective way to address the serious air quality concerns in this country.
One way that the Government has encouraged the public to make the switch is by making incentives. Motorists can benefit from a grant when they purchase a new plug-in vehicle, plus there are benefits like no road tax for electric vehicles and no congestion charge. When these are combined with the low running costs, it makes owning an electric automobile an appealing prospect and especially because there are so many great models available and a type to suit every motorist. One of the main reasons holding motorists back is the perceived lack of charging points. However, there are currently over 13,000 up and down the country with this number rapidly increasing each month. It is thought that the amount of charging points will outnumber petrol stations by 2020, so it is easy to see more and more motorists start to invest in electric cars way ahead of the 2040 ban.
It is an interesting time in the UK as people are now embracing the electric car revolution. The Government’s clean air plans seem to have accelerated this revolution, plus the poor publicity that diesel has received has only strengthened the case for making the switch sooner rather than later.