I’m very lucky. I’ve just got back from a glorious 10 day holiday where my family and I plus a group of friends were able to kick back, relax and soak up the sunshine in the French countryside. The kids tired themselves out in the gîte’s pool and playground (result), in between spotting a multitude of butterflies, listening to crickets sing, and counting the wildflowers. The sun was hot, the swimming pool cold, the air warm… But moreover, the air was clean.
While I was away I read this spot-on piece that really resonated with me, written by an ex-colleague of mine, Larissa Lockwood, who now heads up the Health team at Global Action Plan. Her comments about the air quality in London, in particular relating to what her kids are breathing in every day, really mirror my own worries for my two young children. It’s somewhat timely that the Mayor of London has today warned of toxic air quality levels in the current heatwave we are experiencing. I can only assume this issue will continue to worsen with the growing number of vehicles on the roads and with our summers expected to get hotter and drier in the coming years.
The questionable London air regularly forms part of the ongoing discussion with my husband about the pros and cons of moving away from ‘the Big Smoke’ to a more semi-rural setting (don’t think I’m quite ready to make the leap to full-on countryside just yet, though…).
We are fortunate that in our corner of southeast London we have a short, quiet route for the walk or scoot to nursery and primary school that is mostly traffic-free, running as it does between two school playing fields. The peaceful location definitely formed a big part of our decision to send our eldest to that particular school as it is situated on a quiet street, away from the area’s main thoroughfares, surrounded by houses, trees and a fair amount of green space. They even have their own nature garden (complete with chickens!) – a massive plus, in my view.
“Let’s not allow our children to grow up thinking that polluted air is a fact of life.”
~ Larissa Lockwood
But I’m conscious that this isn’t the case for many schools in London and the surrounding areas, nor other large cities and towns. The health of our children, and indeed everyone, should be paramount and be a major driver for the move away from polluting vehicles and towards more low impact forms of transport, be that low emission buses, trains, cycling (how about building your own eco bamboo bicycle?!), scooting, or just good, old-fashioned walking.
Our communities, health and happiness will all be the better off for it.