Air Quality Awareness Week 2018: Choice matters

Ever think about things that impact our lives?

And, why does this matter?

Where I’m going with this is: decisions we make in life can also impact the environment. It is this that this thread, today’s thread, has to do with.

Setting the tone is this idea of three specific areas of living and how the environment can be affected by the choices we make. These are: 1) what we buy; 2) what we consume; and 3) what we drive.

What we buy

So, what we buy, well, this should actually be prefaced by explaining that what we buy and what we consume are not the same – I’m referring to the processes of buying or purchasing and consuming.

So, what do we buy? First, we buy space and by space in this instance, I mean personal space.

You can think of it this way.

Whether it is where we live, where we walk, where we drive, we pay for the ability to do this and by extension we pay for the space on which this is done. Whether it is through direct purchasing or through taxation, it costs us money.

Secondly, we buy food, home appliances, energy, water, things like computers, paper, telecommunications devices, furniture, items that help us maintain a healthy lifestyle and personal hygiene, products that enable us to get from here to there and back; all sorts of necessities and luxuries.

As for products themselves, these require their being made or manufactured and whether the processes required to do this are sustainable or unsustainable, which one they are, will determine what type of effect these have on the environment. The same is true of the food we purchase. Or the clothes we pay for (more on this in a bit), and so on and so forth.

And, finally, from what is grown, made or manufactured, in the process, waste is produced and, this too, has environmental effect.

What we consume

Once bought, purchased, paid, we go from being buyer, purchaser, payer to consumer.

When we think consumption, we typically think of what we eat, what we drink, primarily. But, there is goods consumption also and we can’t or at least shouldn’t forget about that.

There is as well, indirect consumption.

Take, for example, the manufacture of clothing: what was consumed in its manufacture?

Inputs like cotton and dyes are used to produce clothing. As for the dyes, what kinds were used? And, the fact that dyes are used, this makes clothes buyers indirect consumers of any dyes used during the clothes manufacturing processes. So, by indirect consumption, this is what I mean.

Like in buying, the process of consumption, by its very nature, also creates waste.

What we drive

It isn’t just what we drive it is how we get around. And, what we’re talking about here specifically is personal transportation or personal mobility. It’s one of the hottest topics these days.

So, how are we getting around? Is it by car, transit bus, train? Is it by foot (which includes walking and pedaling a bike), boat, plane or other; a combination of two, more or all of the above?

Like before, what’s important here is whether or not we’re getting around unsustainably or with sustainability first and foremost in mind.

And, again, as in what we buy and what we consume, when it comes to how we get around, there is a certain amount of waste that results as well.


If you think choice doesn’t matter, choice does – big time.

The key here is that the more efficient we are as buyers, consumers and drivers, the less of an environmental footprint we’re leaving and the less waste there is.

And, there are so many ways to become more efficient and to improve efficiency and reduce waste.

The fact of the matter is we have choice. Do I drive the vehicle that conserves gas or the one that guzzles it? Do we buy energy derived from wind and/or the sun or that produced from dirty and damaging fossil fuels? And, in our consumption practices, do we do this with waste in mind thinking about what will happen downstream and how the environment will likely be affected?

It’s a matter of choice and it’s important because, after all, choice really does matter.

One’s imagination …

The only limitation.

And, about the air? …

Air always being an environmental concern, for this Air Quality Awareness Week, which, by the way, begins today, by pledging to commit to keep air clean, this is both an excellent and laudable first step.

Image above: AndrewHorne

This post was last revised on May 17, 2020 @ 6:39 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

– Alan Kandel