About Zoë Spencer

Hey there, I'm Zoë, and an Atlanta native. :) I love being outdoors, music, learning new things, art and travelling. Every day I try to do something environmentally friendly because we've only got one Earth!

Green for clean!

As we all know, trees are an important part of cleansing our air by way of the “carbon cycle.” They take in carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen!

But I recently found out that there are a lot of other garden plants that are good at taking toxins out of our air too! Lab tests have shown the following to be particulary adept at reducing airborne contaminants:

 

English Ivy (Hedera helix)
This one is actually really common! I’ve seen it in lots of places around Atlanta neighborhoods and parks.

 

 

 

 

 

Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Although it’s not native to America, you might see this type of tree around the city because it’s a popular plant for landscaping and decoration and often seen in malls!

 

 

Flamingo Flower (Anthurium)
This flower is particularly interesting to me because of how unique it looks! Although not necessarily common in an urban or wild setting, many people have put these in their yards or gardens.

 

 

 

Overall, I’d say good job, Mother Nature!

Indoor Air Pollution

The summer really seems to be flying by! Hope everyone is having a great vacation.

The weather’s been pretty hot lately, and you may be spending lots of time inside. But did you know that indoor air can become polluted, too? This happens when contaminants build up inside buildings. Homes and schools can be affected by it!

Things like dust, other particulates, and carbon monoxide are quite common pollutants, while asbestos and lead are showing up increasingly less due to people’s knowledge of their dangers. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for industrial purposes. But in the early 1900s, people in asbestos mining towns began dying and having severe lung problems.

Paint and cleaning products are also big hazards when it comes to indoor air pollution. A way to avoid being affected by this is to use organic cleaning products and things without harsh chemicals. Distilled vinegar, for instance, is a completely natural substance used to kill mold and germs. It’s great to dust often and add fans in your house, to keep air circulating and minimize particulates.

Remember, have a safe, happy and green summer!

Greencation!

This summer, you and your family might be planning to go on a vacation or two. And while your parents will be making most of the decisions and reservations, etc., there are things you can do to help and remind them to have an eco-friendly trip!

If you’re staying at a resort of hotel, look for places that have a low impact on the environment, like campsites and green hotels.

Remember that air travel is a really big offender in the greenhouse gas department, so consider other modes of transportation like the train. If flying is a must, then check out frequent flyer miles so you can also track your carbon footprint. Some companies (like Sustainable Travel International) let you buy credits that put your money towards projects that aim to lower CO2 in the air.

A good thing to remember is to pack light, because carrying heavy luggage uses lots of energy. When out and about in the world, make sure to unplug your phone or laptop chargers when you’re not using them, because this also saves energy.

Wherever you may find yourself this summer, have fun and do what you can to save our planet, little by little.

Farmers Markets!

Now, I know you’ve probably been preached to about the benefits of buying organic foods, so I’m not gonna re-hash what you already know. But did you know that you can get great organic products locally? Even in the city!

During the summer season, farmers markets are a huge deal and you can find them almost everywhere. Not only are they a fun, outdoor social experience, there are so many amazing vendors from close by and within the city.

Locally grown food comes short distances to the market, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions and the use of harmful packaging materials. Most food in the US travels 1500 miles to get to your grocery store, on average. Here’s a list of awesome Georgia farmer’s markets:

All of these markets are a great summer activity. I hope I’ve helped show you one of the best ways to have a good impact on the environment. : )

Made in the Shade

Wow! I can’t believe it- summer is practically here! While school’s winding down, the weather is heating up, especially in Atlanta! In fact, this city has been known to reach temperatures of 110° Fahrenheit and above! So although it will be tempting to stay inside most days, or go everywhere in an air-conditioned car, I’m here to tell you some of the wonderful ways that being green is fun, especially in the summer! I’ve gathered a list of the best ways to stay cool this season, whilst having minimal impact on our environment.

1. Go to the pool! This is an obvious one. Pack your suit and sun block and you’ll be all set. But the hard thing is to find a nice pool that’s membership doesn’t break the bank! A lot of places can be really expensive. My strategy is to find places with public hours or go with friends that have memberships.

2.Hang at the park! It may not sound like a very cooling experience, but think about it- parks are full of trees! Trees provide shade and are good for the air. What’s not to love? Some great parks in my city include Piedmont Park, Grant Park and the brand new Old 4th Ward park.

3. Hydrate. Drink lots of water whatever you may be doing, because it helps regulate body temperature and helps you stay out longer in the heat.

What are some environmentally low impact ways you spend your summer? Think green; no gas, no waste, plenty of exercise.

My Generation

At my school, walking and biking to school is very common. There’s a massive group of students who live relatively nearby, and ride their bikes or come to school on foot almost every day. We even have one organized day a month where you get small prizes for using alternative, eco-friendly transportation when travelling to and from school.

(If you want to get your school involved, go to Georgia Safe Routes to School.)

I interviewed some of my friends, teachers and peers who are working every day to prevent air pollution by avoiding the harmful substances emitted into the environment by motor vehicles. Although many schools aren’t as environmentally conscious as mine, it’s clear that young people can have a lot of impact in the green movement. Let’s make our generation be the one to protect our future.

OnAir says: It’s Air Quality Awareness Week! Got any air-friendly ideas you’re ready to put into action? Tell us about them in the comments! And don’t forget to keep logging those clean, green acts for more AirCreds!

Take a Deep Breath

 

I love living in the city, I really do. There are so many wonderful things about it. Hanging out in Little Five Points & East Atlanta, going to the park and other outdoor places like Six Flags.

But as a person with asthma, air pollution is a personal problem for me. Atlanta was named one of the top 25 dirtiest air cities for ozone pollution in the US in 2011. When I go out on runs and exercise walks, I can feel the struggle to take full breaths and I almost always have to use my inhaler.

In 2007, Atlanta was labeled the “worst asthma city” due to the high number of death rates from asthma. Most of these probably were caused by extreme levels of pollen and other pollutants like carbon monoxide, which is found in cigarettes. Most people assume this is only an issue for asthmatics, but the pollution in our air is hazardous to everyone. There are about 4,000 chemicals present in the average cigarette. These harsh substances are then breathed out and released directly into our environment.

As you must know already, pollution from cars is one huge problem. Especially in the city. For most people, driving is a necessary mode of transportation, and in places with high concentrations of these people, fossil fuels create toxic amounts of harmful gases every day. But like I said, that’s not new information to you. More and more teens like me have asthma and I don’t know about them, but I certainly want to be able to get out and enjoy my city! And our generation can be the one to help them, (to help ourselves, really) by releasing less waste into the air.

What have you done this week that’s green?