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Clean Air Choices

We can each contribute to clean air

Clean air to breathe is vital to our health and our overall well-being. Since most of the air pollution in the Spokane-area comes from our activities, we can make a difference. Whether at home, at work, or somewhere in between, our choices matter. Choose clean air!

Check out these ideas:

At Home

Remodeling? Be aware of asbestos – Asbestos-containing materials can be found in over 3,000 different building products. When microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs and remain there throughout life. Fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation and lead to serious conditions including lung cancer and mesothelioma.

If you are planning a home or business remodeling or demolition project, regardless of the age of the structure, requirements must be followed to reduce the uncontrolled release of harmful asbestos fibers. Read more about asbestos and how to protect yourself and others.

Reduce your waste by purchasing items in less packaging. Remove yourself from junk mail lists and take reusable bags with you when shopping.

Reuse plastic bags and containers. Donate items you no longer use to local charities.

Recycle magazines, newspapers, batteries, glass, cans, paper and plastic. For more information, visit Spokane Regional Solid Waste System.

Waste resource tool – Not sure what to do with a product you no longer want? Check out the Spokane Waste Directory.

Keep your home cool by following these tips to lower the heating bill.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home. Setting your air conditioner to this level will allow you to stay cool and avoid an unusually high electricity bill.
  • If you have AC, change the filter when it is dirty.
  • Before you switch on the AC, turn on your fans. Fans cost less to run and you can position them exactly where you need them.
  • Keep your blinds or window coverings closed when it is hot and sunny out. Investing in blackout curtains can also be helpful to keep out the heat.
  • Seal the gaps around windows and doors to stop the warm air sneaking in and the cool air drifting out. You can also install shrink-to-fit plastic over your windows on the inside of your home.
  • Turn off your lights. Lights give out a small amount of excess heat.
  • Avoid using the oven or stove.
  • Do your laundry and chores at night.

Keep your home warm by following these tips to lower the heating bill.

  • Set your thermostat between 68 and 70 degrees when home, and 55-60 degrees when gone for more than 3 hours or when sleeping.
  • Change furnace filters regularly to allow your furnace to run efficiently.
  • Plug air leaks to keep the cold out. Install door sweeps, weather stripping and caulking around doors. Seal cracked glass, caulk or glaze around edges, seal pulley holes in windows.
  • Install shrink-to-fit plastic over your windows on the inside of your home.
  • Cover and seal off fireplaces when not in use.
  • Fill and cover large holes and caulk or foam seal small holes and the plumbing breaks.
  • Seal electric outlets and light switches on perimeter walls with foam gaskets.
  • Caulk baseboard strip on perimeter walls.

Heat with wood? Burn wisely by using only dry, seasoned firewood and providing plenty of air to avoid a smoky, smoldering fire. After a 20 minute start-up period, check the chimney. Excessive smoke is illegal and isn’t providing efficient heat. Always check burning conditions before you start your fire. More wood heating information.

In Your Yard

Plant some plants Trees and most plants absorb carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air, making them a natural air filter. In addition, trees and large shrubs can provide shade to keep your home cooler.

Consider Xeriscaping. This is the practice of landscaping with slow-growing, drought tolerant plants to conserve water and reduce yard trimmings.

Broom not Leaf Blower We’ve all seen the clouds of dust created when someone decides it’s a “good” idea to use a leaf blower to clean sidewalks, driveways or parking areas. Don’t do it! This simply moves the problem from one area to another, while creating clouds of dust that you, your family, and neighbors breathe. Instead, use a broom and dustpan, or a shop vaccum made for this type of activity.

Go electric or manual power – Next time you are ready to purchase new yard tools, consider purchasing electric, battery or manual powered tools! You’ll save time and money on maintenance and repairs, and breathe easier.

Compost – Another way to handle garden wastes is to start a compost bin. You can use it for your food scraps as well. Adding compost to your flower beds and garden provides nutrients and helps keep water in the soil. Information on composting: Spokane Regional Solid Waste System.

Recreational fires – Wood burning fire pits, fire bowls, chimineas, and the like are allowed throughout Spokane County, as long as requirements are met and a burn restriction isn’t in place. There may be rules if you live in a planned development, so be sure to check.

On the Road

Keep the dust down. If you have to drive on an unpaved road, please travel slowly. Our agency receives many complaints from residents who live next to dirt roads and are being affected. Dust is not only a nuisance, it is harmful to breathe.

Idling = 0 miles per gallon. If idling for more than 30-seconds, please turn off the engine.

  • Idling consumes 1/2 to 1 gallon of gas per hour.
  • Excessive idling causes your engine’s components, including cylinders and spark plugs, to wear prematurely.
  • Children’s asthma symptoms increase as a result of car exhaust.
  • If you are a parent or volunteer at a school, talk to the school administrators about joining the free, easy and award-winning No Idle Zone program!

Plan ahead and combine errands into efficient trips. A little planning can save time, money and our air! Take a shopping list to avoid repeat trips, call the store ahead of time to make sure they have your item(s) in-stock, or order on-line. Active kids? Coordinate with other parents to share driving duties.

Keep your vehicle well-maintained. Not only will a well-cared for vehicle result in better gas mileage, it’ll extend its life and resale value as well.

Refueling your car? Stop at the first click. Avoid overfilling your gas tank by stopoing at the first click. Be sure to tighten the gas cap as well.

Go Electric! There are more and more options and incentives available for purchasing electric and other alternative fuel vehicles.

At Work

Pack a lunch – Instead of driving somewhere for lunch (and usually in a rush) pack a lunch instead! Try this for two weeks and see how you feel. Your wallet, your waistline and your frame of mind might all notice a difference!  

Out of office meetings – If you attend meetings outside of the office, consider carpooling with others attending the same meeting. If the meeting location is close enough, consider walking.

Commute options – Explore other ways to get to work, such as riding the bus, carpooling, walking or bicycling. You will save money on gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. Need help finding another way? Check out a new online tool, Commute Finder Northwest.

For Employers

Partner with Commute Smart Northwest – Many employers support the use of commute alternatives to driving alone to work. Providing commute options is an employee benefit that many employers use as a recruitment incentive. Reducing single occupant vehicle travel is a win-win for employees and employers. Free resources are available from Commute Smart Northwest

Employer-Sponsored Bus Pass Program – STA’s Employer Sponsored Bus Pass Program allows employers to purchase discounted passes. STA will sell monthly passes to the company or organization at a discount provided that the company or organization agrees to pass that savings on to the employees and offer an additional discount. Contact STA for more details. 

Recycle old electronics & properly dispose of waste – Many businesses replace computers and other electronic items regularly, or generate dangerous wastes or other material wastes. Don’t throw these items in the trash –many components are recyclable and some computers can be rebuilt and donated to nonprofits. For more information visit the Spokane Waste Directory or call the Recycling Hotline, 625-6800.

Join Enviro-CertifiedEnviroCertified is a program that certifies businesses that are properly managing and reducing their hazardous materials and wastes. To qualify, the business must be located in Spokane County, must not generate large quantities of hazardous wastes, and must complete a local source control consultation and an Enviro-Certified checklist. To learn more about becoming an Enviro-Certified business, call or email Tonilee: tonilee@spokaneriver.net or (509) 847-4337.