Escaping to the Peaks made me realise how dirty London's air is

I've decided to focus the blog section of my website on becoming more socially conscious among the noise.

Social media is an incredible tool, but it can also be overwhelming. There are people talking about world issues left, right, and centre - how do you decide what to focus on? I was feeling so snowed under I decided to start this blog, to learn more about the world one step at a time. To me, it's important to learn as much as you can about a topic before forming an opinion. I hope keeping this blog will help me understand more about the world and how we can better it, and hopefully it'll help you too.

Unfortunately in London the legal air quality limits are broken every single year, making it one of the worst European cities for air pollution. Currently it has the highest recorded level of nitrogen dioxide of any capital city in Europe.

Every year thousands of Londoners are dying prematurely because of pollution.

Taking a trip to the Peak District this weekend, I felt a huge difference in how the air felt to just breath in. It worries me that I can feel such a difference. I'm seeing more and more people travelling around London wearing masks now. What is breathing this air doing to our health?

We need to think about the people this poor air quality affects even more than the average person, including unborn babies and children, elderly people, and people who are asthmatic.

A recent study by Kings College London and Imperial College London found that short term exposure to pollution in over 60s could counter the benefits of exercise.

What can we do? London currently has initiatives in places like the £10 Toxity Charge for older vehicles, the ultra low emission zones, putting the greenest buses in the most polluted places, and air quality audits at schools.

But there are also ways that we as individuals can help contribute to cleaning London's air, and indeed the world's. You don't even need to make huge changes, as the tiny actions below demonstrate.

1. Conserve energy and use energy-efficient light bulbs. 2. Travel smart - if you're in London or another town/city, can you walk or cycle? Can you get the bus or share a car? It's not always possible, especially because we usually need to take the quickest route, but making changes where possible helps. 3. Only run your dishwasher and washing machine when full for maximum efficiency. Maybe you could wash dishes by hand?

4. If you do have a car be careful with it! Avoid spilling fuel and always tighten your gas cap securely. Keep your engine properly tuned.

My cultural recommendations

This week I'm making two recommendations linked to what has been discussed:

1. How to Live Plastic Free by Luca Bonaccorsi - an amazing book that details the little things we could all change in our daily lives to live greener and create less waste.

2. Women's Hour on the BBC from Tuesday 7 August entitled 'Caring for Parents; Home, I'm Darling; Plastic Pollution' - whizz to the end to hear Emily Penn speak about humanity's impact on the natural world (but I recommend you listen to the whole thing and all the other episodes too - you won't regret it!).