Campaign for cleaner air

The quality of the air we breathe has a direct impact on our health and the natural environment. Nobody wants to breathe in dirty air!

Transport creates a large amount of pollution and is a major contributor to poor air quality in cities, so reducing your use of the car can help to tackle this problem. If you do use your car, please switch your engine off when stationary for more than a minute or two.

Wood burning is another major contributor to poor air quality. Log burners and bonfires produce harmful gases which can directly affect the health of people nearby.

We work with Eastleigh Borough Council, the New Forest District CouncilSouthampton City Council and Winchester City Council to deliver our ongoing wood burning campaign. Watch our short animation, The Hidden Harms of Woodsmoke, before learning more about air quality and wood burning on the tabs below.

We held a four-part webinar for Global Action Plan’s Clean Air Day on Thursday, 15th June 2023 and were joined by the following speakers:

Dr Ian Mudway, Imperial College London
Peter Knapp, Imperial College London
Dr Matt Loxham, University of Southampton
Dr Louise Kelly, University of Southampton
Hazel Agombar, the Environment Centre (tEC)
Dr Ben Rusholme, NHS
Dr Debbie Chase, Southampton City Council
George O’Ferrall, Southampton City Council

We’re pleased to share a resource sheet that highlights all the main links that were discussed during the event.

The next Clean Air Day will be held on Thursday, 20th June 2024.

Our top tips for reducing exposure to outdoor air pollution.

  • Walk, cycle or scoot whenever you can. Pedestrians and cyclists breathe cleaner air than those travelling in a vehicle.
  • When you can, avoid walking along busy roads. Choose ways to get to your destination that use parks, green spaces, quiet streets and pedestrianised areas.
  • Air pollution concentrates around the busiest roads. Getting even a short distance away from them can make a big difference. Quieter roads have been shown to reduce exposure to air pollution by 20%.
  • Keep away from the edge of the road where possible, to reduce the amount of traffic fumes you are exposed to.
  • Stand back from the road when waiting to cross at junctions, especially if you have babies in prams and young children with you, because they are closer to vehicle exhaust fumes.
  • If you do have to drive, switch your engine off when you are stationary. It is less polluting to turn your engine off and restart it after a minute or longer, than to leave your engine running.     
  • Avoid firepits and bonfires if you can. Burning wood and other materials releases harmful chemicals into the air which are bad for our health. You might also be interested in our full wood burning campaign.  

Open the tabs below for facts about log burners and bonfires, and see our full wood burning campaign page for even more information about this important topic.

Log burners may look cosy and nostalgic but unfortunately, they do come with problems. The particles they release can cause health problems for you, your family and even your neighbours.

Many people believe it’s cheaper in the long run to use a log burner for keeping warm at home. This is sometimes true, but often, it is actually more expensive to purchase the burner itself and all the materials needed to use it. Global Action Plan’s report, ‘Relight my fire? Investigating the true cost of wood burning stoves’ delves deeper into this subject.

If you’re struggling to pay energy bills, please contact us as we might be able to help.

If you choose to use a log burner, we ask that you seek guidance from Woodsure.

Bonfires cause pollution and can be dangerous to wildlife. The particles released by bonfires are harmful and they contribute to overall poor air quality.

Some Local Authorities have introduced Smoke Control Areas where it is an offence to have a bonfire. This is because it’s deemed a nuisance or is in an area of poor air quality.

If you do have a bonfire, please make sure you are away from properties, you check for wildlife (particularly hedgehogs as they like to nestle in piles of garden waste), and you follow the burn clean regulations.

You might also wish to consider signing up for garden waste collections from your Local Authority.