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What you can do

Protect Your Health | Reduce, Reuse, Recycle | At Home | Lighting | Cleaning | Grilling | Yard Work | On the Job | On the Road | On the Water | Transportation

Protect Your Health

  • During an Ozone Alert, limit vigorous outdoor activity. Choose more moderate activities, such as walking instead of jogging. Stay indoors in a building with a good air filtration system, such as a local library, if ozone is especially concentrated or if you are sensitive to air pollution. Sign up for SkyCast notifications to receive an email when there is an Ozone Alert day. 

  • Early and late are best. Ozone concentrations are lower when it’s cooler, so exercise before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on Ozone Alert days.

  • Visit the library, museum or community center. If you don’t have air conditioning, these are great places to expand your mind — and your lungs!

  • Check on friends, relatives and neighbors. People with respiratory problems such as asthma or emphysema, the elderly, and children are most affected by air pollution. The heat that helps generate ozone poses a simultaneous hazard.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

  • Reduce or reuse. It takes energy to make, transport and dispose of the products we use. Buying products with minimal packaging and reusing products whenever possible lets you reduce the number of trips garbage trucks must make to the landfill. Because some waste is disposed of by burning, by creating less trash, you will also reduce incineration emissions. 

  • Recycle what’s left! At work, at home or at special events, recycling reuses valuable materials and saves energy by rescuing them from landfills. It takes less energy and creates less pollution to recycle many products than it does to make new ones from raw materials. By recycling and buying recycled items, you reduce the need to manufacture and ship new products.

  • Properly dispose of household hazardous waste. We all have hazardous waste in our households in the form of cleaning, home-repair, and lawn and garden products. These materials can release fumes which cause indoor and outdoor air pollution. By disposing of them properly at household hazardous waste collection sites or at collection events, you can keep them from entering the waste stream. To find out more about proper household hazardous waste disposal, visit www.RecycleSpot.org.

At Home

  • Be kind to your gadgets turn them off. Items that do not run constantly usually last longer. Contrary to popular belief, this is also true of most computers. Items left running unnecessarily not only waste energy, they generate excess heat.

  • Use your computer’s sleep mode. Using the sleep mode when you plan to be away for a short time and want to keep your machine running saves energy. Don’t mistake your computer’s screensaver for sleep mode — a screensaver keeps the computer at full power.

  • Choose a Star. EnergyStar appliances are more environmentally friendly because they use less energy and options are available for many product categories. Visit www.energystar.gov for more information.

  • Beware of power vampires! Many appliances use electricity even when they’re turned off. Anything with a remote control, external power supply (that cube-shaped thing on the electric plug), or a clock display is consuming energy. This can account for 10 percent of your home’s power consumption. Unplug these items or turn them off with a power strip.

  • Consider upgrading to a higher-efficiency furnace. A more efficient furnace will pay for itself over time. Exchanging your older, low-efficiency furnace for a medium-efficiency furnace can save you about $25 per every $100 in annual fuel costs — upgrading to a high-efficiency furnace will save you even more.

  • Use a programmable thermostat. Lowering the temperature when you’re away from home can save about 15 percent on your heating bill. Program the thermostat to raise the temperature to a comfortable level before you return.

  • Check your ducts. Ensure that your registers are not blocked by furniture. Also check ductwork to ensure it is properly sealed and insulated.

Bright Ideas

  • Let the sun shine in! Natural lighting uses no energy, generates no pollutants or greenhouse gases, and does not cost you anything. You can maximize the amount of natural light in your home by hanging light-colored curtains, opening blinds during the day, and simply not using lamps during the day when plenty of natural light is available.

  • Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. They consume two-thirds the energy and last 10 times longer than standard bulbs. You’ll save money and prevent about 730 pounds of greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere.

  • Use motion and light sensors outdoors: Your outdoor lighting does not need to be on 24 hours a day or when no one is around. You can save money and energy by installing lights that turn on automatically only when lighting is low or when motion is detected. This also contributes to home safety.

  • The lights are on, but nobody’s home. Turning off your lights is the easiest way to save energy. Simply turn off the lights when you are not in the room, regardless of whether you use incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs.

Spring Cleaning

  • Follow household cleaner instructions carefully. Be mindful of safety precautions. If the product should be used in a well-ventilated area, move outside or use an exhaust fan. Use all suggested safety equipment, such as a mask or gloves. Store hazardous materials properly.

  • Buy only what you need. Limit your family’s exposure to hazardous chemicals found in common cleaners, paints and solvents by keeping on hand only as much as you will use. 

  • Dispose of unused or unneeded material properly.  This will limit your family’s long-term exposure. If you’re not sure how to dispose of hazardous material, see www.recyclespot.org for information.

  • Avoid using hazardous household products. Nontoxic alternatives to common household cleaners may be found on our website.

  • Check the VOCs. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are unhealthy to breathe and lend a hand in forming ozone. Many household products come in healthier low-VOC varieties — just check the label.

The Thrill of the Grill

  • Use a charcoal chimney. Charcoal chimneys produce fewer harmful fumes than starter fluid.

  • Consider charcoal alternatives. Consider using a propane or natural gas grill, which creates less air pollution than charcoal.

In Your Yard

  • Use native landscaping. It requires less mowing, watering and use of chemicals.

  • Mow in the evening. The ozone-forming fumes released by a gas lawnmower will dissipate overnight. Morning is the worst time to mow because it releases fumes when they are most likely to be transformed into ozone.

  • Use 4-cycle, electrical equipment or manual tools. Much of your gardening and lawn care can be easily accomplished with manual or electrical equipment. When power equipment is needed, selecting 4-cycle engines will improve your emissions.

  • Maintain your equipment. Sharpen your tools’ blades regularly to maintain efficiency. Keeping your equipment well-maintained will reduce emissions and avoid costly breakdowns.

  • Plant a tree. Trees shade your home in the summer and provide a windbreak in the winter, reducing energy costs. They also remove pollutants from the air. To help you choose a tree, see The Heartland Tree Alliance's website.

On the Job

  • Bring lunch and skip a trip. Bring your lunch or walk to a nearby restaurant and skip a car trip. For a large group, have lunch delivered to cut back on individual car trips.

  • Teleconference, telecommute or telephone. Time is precious in the business world, and you can save both travel time and auto emissions by teleconferencing or videoconferencing. Working from home may also be an option.

  • Carpool to off-site meetings. When you must meet in person, share a ride. If you carpool with just one co-worker, you cut emissions and fuel consumption in half.

On the Road

  • Refuel in the evening. Heat and sunlight convert gas fumes into ground-level ozone. You can reduce ozone pollution by refueling in the evening. This gives gas vapors a chance to dissipate overnight, making it less likely that they’ll contribute to ozone the following day.

  • Stop at the click. Overfilling your gas tank increases the likelihood of spills and can damage your car’s emission controls. Remove the nozzle from your gas tank when it shuts off automatically.

  • Drive friendly. Speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking can lower your gas mileage by as much as 5 percent in town and 33 percent on the highway.

  • Adopt a no-idling policy. If your car isn’t moving for more than 30 seconds, turn off your engine! You’ll save money on gas and prevent volumes of car exhaust, which contributes to local air pollution, from being emitted into the air.

  • Avoid excess loads. For every extra 100 pounds you haul in your car, you’ll reduce your gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent.

  • Use the cruise. Maintaining a constant speed with cruise control will help conserve fuel. Using overdrive gears will also save gas by slowing engine speed and reducing engine wear.

  • Check the air in your tires. Keeping tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by 3 percent — or about 18 gallons of gas per year for the average driver.

  • Replace old filters. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your gas mileage by 10 percent, or about 55 gallons per year. Be sure to check all filters (oil, gas, and air) regularly and make sure they remain in good condition.

  • Have regular tune-ups. This will save you an average of 4 percent, or about 23 gallons per year. Never ignore a check engine or other warning light.

  • Make simple replacements. Switching to a newer gas cap can save you 30 gallons per year.

  • Check all fluids regularly and change them according to your owner’s manual. Simply using the correct weight of oil can save you 1–2 percent, or 9 gallons per year.

  • Quiz your mechanic. He or she should be familiar with modern emission control systems.

On the Water

  • Power down. Limit the amount of time you operate the engine at full throttle and don’t let the engine idle unnecessarily.

  • Fuel with care. Avoid spills by pouring carefully. Close gas can vents and store in a cool, dry place to reduce evaporation. 

Know Your Transportation Options

  • biker and busCarpool. When you share a ride with just one other person, you cut your air pollution emissions in half — and it saves you money on gas and parking! MARC’s RideShare program offers free online carpool matching and helpful tips to get started with carpooling.

  • Vanpool. KCATA’s AdVantage Vanpool Program provides a van and gas free of cost to the driver and at a low monthly cost to riders. Call (816) 346-0800 for more information

  • Ride the bus. If you live farther than walking distance from work, using a monthly bus pass will almost certainly cut your commuting costs. Check with your human resources representative to find out if your workplace subsidizes bus passes. For information on bus routes, visit The Metro or The JO.

  • Bike or walk. The Kansas City area has a great system of bicycle and pedestrian routes and trails that are perfect for shorter trips. Not only are these trips emissions-free, but they also improve fitness. For a free regional bike map, call (816) 842-RIDE.

  • Go multi-modal. Sometimes your route is just too far to bike or there are too many bus transfers to make your route timely. You can take advantage of the Park-and-Ride bus stops. Or, you can use the convenient bike racks on all Metro and JO buses to bike and bus.