#BreatheFree

Everyone knows that a little thing can make all the difference. That something is so much more than doing nothing. Volvo believes that with every little step we take we get one step closer to cleaner air; and today, we want you to join the journey towards a cleaner tomorrow.

NO ONE CAN DO EVERYTHING BUT

EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING

Volvo’s vision in Sustainability

Our approach to sustainability goes beyond our operations and our cars, and into society. We aim to have electric cars making up 50 per cent of our sales by 2025. This ambition builds on our 2017 industry-first announcement that all new models released from 2019 will be available as either a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicle.

CleanZone Technology in our cars

At the heart of CleanZone is Volvo’s Interior Air Quality System, which has a sensor to measure the air quality coming into the car. If it detects a drop in quality – for example driving through a tunnel where there may be high levels of exhaust fumes – the car automatically closes its air intakes then switches to air recirculation.

Plug-in Hybrids in India

We are the only luxury car brand in India who is offering a sustainable mobility solution to its buyers. The XC90 Excellence is a true plug-in hybrid which is being loved in India and growing strongly towards a healthier tomorrow. The XC90 Excellence manifests a luxury experience that is quintessentially Volvo.

Our Social Initiatives

As a human-centric car company, we are a brand for people who care about other people and the world in which we live. We, in India, are taking small steps towards contributing back to the society and make our environment better for our future generations.

Turning The Tide on Air Pollution with #BreatheFree

Volvo. We’re a global company, and we’re conscious that every decision we take can affect the world and the lives of people – which is why we put people at the core of everything we do.

As a human-centric car company, you are at the core of our business and of our approach to sustainability. We are re-thinking sustainability, and going beyond our operations and our cars, and into society.

There is a Swedish word that means “caring” and “consideration”, and also “to think again”. This word is “omtanke” and summarises our way of protecting what’s important to you. Omtanke is the name of our programme of sustainability commitments.

In India, as in many parts of the world, an emerging environmental problem is air pollution. Today, it kills 2 Indians every minute. By 2040, the projections are it will claim 1.7 Million lives every year. The worst affected are children.

We know that when you think of air pollution, you think of cars. Which is why we’re stepping up. We’re upping our game to cut back on emissions. 

We aim to have electric cars making up 50 per cent of our sales by 2025. This ambition builds on our 2017 industry-first announcement that all new models released from 2019 will be available as either mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicle.

To gather real momentum however, we need you. Because while companies like us can make big changes, we can’t begin to compete with the power of little changes, when made by millions of people. Under the #BreatheFree campaign, we are reaching out to you, to your cities, to your children, to your parents - to take small actions every day, that will roll back the slowly creeping decline in air quality across the globe.

It won’t happen overnight, it won’t happen next week. But it will happen. And it will be worth it.

5 Things You Can Do Today to Reduce Air Pollution

We’re approaching that time of year again. Kids in pollution masks. Advisories to stay indoors. Masks. It’s easy to get annoyed at the government for not doing enough, at “other people” who are being careless with the environment, and playing fast and loose with our health. 

Justifiable… but ultimately ineffective. Let’s channel that energy elsewhere. While there is a LOT that can be done at a community level (and we’ll cover that in another article), let’s look at small changes we can make today, as individuals, to ensure that we are doing our best where cleaner air is concerned. 

Drive smart

Keep your vehicle within the fuel efficient speed range and don’t idle at traffic signals. Regularly check that your tires are at the correct pressure. Keeping tires properly inflated means you’re using less fuel. Try consolidating your trips by shopping for groceries and running other errands on your daily commute. Find grocers and other necessities that are located on your route, or within walking distance.

Choose products with minimal packaging

Remember that all packaging goes into garbage. Look for products where packaging is minimal - this is easier now, given that a lot of businesses are looking at their footprint. Wherever possible, try to get products whose packaging can be reused in some way - get creative!

Buy Local

Think about the transportation involved in that avocado you’re putting in your salad. Especially when it comes to food, going local is a great way to help with reducing air pollution. In fact, take it a step further and buy from local grocers and mandis - we’re lucky to have them in India, and their produce tends to be much fresher and have far fewer miles on it than those available at supermarkets and chain stores. It may not look as pretty, but well, it's beautiful on the inside!

Cut Back on Junk Mail

No, not just on your email - get your spam filters on for snail mail too! Review the mail you get and see if these companies will allow you to switch to emailers instead. Not only do you reduce trash this way, but you also prevent trees being felled for paper.

And finally, Plant Some Trees

Make it a family thing - if you have your own garden, you could get going on a tree nursery. Plant your trees, grow them to a certain age when they’re more likely to survive, and then move them to a permanent home. If you don’t have your own garden, plant a tree near your home where you can look after it. If you plant a fruit tree, you’ve automatically incentivised it’s upkeep for all involved. 
Are you already doing some of these? If so, get some friends involved and gamify the experience - maybe come up with a tree planting target, or a zero junk mail target or an only local shopping month! Inject some fun, share on social media and get other people engaged and excited. It’s never been easier to get the good word out there - so use your social media voice to do your environment some real good.

Things you can do to clean the air you breathe

As the news on air pollution in our cities gets worse, it makes more and more sense to spend time indoors - away from the worst of it. But air is air, and what’s outside your home, is, ultimately, inside your home too.

Creating a Clean Zone takes a little persistence, but only till those habits are formed. Once these activities are part of your regular routine, you won’t even notice them. And in return for your efforts, you get not only a clean home, but cleaner lungs, better energy levels, maybe even a longer lifespan.

Let’s get to it!

Invest in a HEPA filter

For those of us who live in cities where the Particulate Matter count is high on average, this is a must. Take a look through the various options available in the market, but before that, take the time to educate yourself on air pollution, and particularly, on the type of air pollution in your city. Those who live near industrial belts in landlocked areas, versus those who live nearer to shore in less industrialised areas will have very different needs.

Give your upholstery some TLC

Vacuum all your upholstery - this includes your beds (especially your beds!). Vacuum cleaners help pick up dust, dust mites, pet dander and pollen - all of which build up over time. Change your curtains on a schedule and launder them regularly. In fact, set up a schedule for vacuuming, changing curtains, and shampooing the rugs.

House plants!

These are a great way to naturally filter the air in your home. There are some plants that are known for their ability to suck up toxins and dust and allergens - a little internet search will reveal a plethora of choices. In India, the best plants (and most easily available) are Tulsi, the humble Money Plant, and the very easy to grow Golden Pothos. If we can make a recommendation, it is to have at least one plant per room, and the closer the plant is to your windows and doors, the better.

Humidity is not your friend

But dust mites and mold spores love it. So think about that the next time you take a long soak or a luxurious long shower! Regularly air out your kitchen and bathroom so that humidity and damp (particularly for coastal areas) doesn’t linger about. Use the exhaust fans each time you cook or bathe, and keep them on a few minutes longer than you do now.

Keep your floor surfaces clean

Most of us are in the practice of mopping our floors after sweeping - this is a great practice as it picks up all the little leftover dust particles. The trick though, is maintaining the level of cleanliness throughout the day. One surefire way is to limit outdoor shoes to a particular area - keep a shoe rack for visitors, and have a set of indoor footwear for all family members. If you have pets, ensure that your furries get a foot wash after their walks - not only will this keep your home cleaner, it will also reduce the possibility of infections for your pet!

And there you have it - a little effort here, and a little effort there, and your home not only looks and smells cleaner, but feels cleaner too! The purpose of this list is just to get you started - find your own little hacks and share them with friends and family. The path to cleaner air is a collective one, and the more people think about it and talk about it and act on it, the faster we all get there

5 Innovations to clean up the world’s air

We were thinking about #BreatheFree for a long time, before we could put the wheels in motion. Initially, it felt like such an epic, herculean task… cleaning up the world’s air? Phew! We sure had a lot of work to do.


Fortunately, we weren’t alone. The more we looked around, the more we were delighted and surprised by the work that is being done by people whose passion for sustainability is only rivalled by their intellectual prowess. There are way too many innovations to mention in just one article, so we’ve narrowed it down to just 5 in this list. Believe us, this list is not exhaustive (and if some of us are to be believed, not even unanimously agreed upon!).


 

  1. Air Purifying Billboards: When Peru based UTEC (Universidad de Ingenieria y Tecnologia) were building a new campus, they realised that in the very act of building their campus, they were going to add a significant amount of air pollution through construction related dust and particulates. The solution? A billboard that purifies air the way 1200 trees would have. They installed the billboard in the middle of the construction site, and using a filtration system that utilises water, filtered over 100,000 cubic metres of air that reaches a radius of 5 blocks. Given the plethora of billboards in our cities, this would be a great solution for India.

  2. Nasofilters: We love the product - and not just because it’s the brainchild of a bunch from IIT Delhi. Imagine this: a filter you wear on your nostrils, capable of filtering out PM, contaminants and allergens for 12 hours, no matter the weather. Plus, it doesn’t hide half your face… in fact, it’s barely noticeable. What we loved also, was that it is in production here and now, not in the far future; and it doesn’t cost a pretty penny. You can buy it online already. We also gave it bonus points for being biodegradable. We acknowledge that it doesn’t solve the air pollution problem, but it does help us manage ourselves and our health in the meantime.

  3. Smog Eating Concrete: Developed in 2007 by accident, this technology has the potential to significantly clean up city air. The greater the exposed surface area, the better the outcome. So coating our roads and buildings with it will have significant payoffs. It’s essentially a photocatalytic reaction - which means sunlight triggers a chemical reaction that causes dirt and pollutants like Nitrogen Oxide (the main contributor to smog and surface ozone) to decompose. At the moment, the adoption is low due to the prohibitive costs - but as the team continues to experiment, we expect the product to get more efficient and cost effective in future.

  4. Wynd - A personal bubble of clean air: For those who want a personal Clean Zone, this is the product to own. Irrespective of where you are, you can create your own little bubble of clean air using the Wynd intelligent filter. The product also lets you monitor air quality via your phone, automatically orders replacement filters… kinda like having your own personal air assistant! Ideal for those who travel, and for those who don’t!
  5. CityTree: What if you could pack the air cleansing power of 275 trees into 3.5 square metres? Incredible, right? But that’s what the people at Citytree have managed to do - using moss cultures which have a much higher leaf surface area. What makes it truly incredible, is the fact that it is self-powered through solar panels, and it collects rainwater for its built in irrigation system. It may not be as pretty as a real tree, but it can be a real solution in crowded and space starved cities. Imagine having Citytrees at traffic islands and parking lots of schools and malls - think of that number in your city, and then multiply that by 275. Yeah, we thought that would make you smile.

Like we said, this isn’t an exhaustive list. There is a lot of innovation going on in this area right now, and if you’d like to support it, you can find ways to contribute - maybe you can petition local authorities to give these technologies a trial run in your locality. Or if you want to contribute monetarily, you can take your pick - from university studies to crowdfunded innovation, there are a lot of talented, passionate people out there that could use your support.


Of course, should you come across an idea that you believe can really change things for the better, please post about it using #BreatheFree, or write to us directly at @volvocarindia on Twitter.


To us, it feels like an investment in the future and that’s why we undertook #BreatheFree and all it entails. As a species, we feel it’s time we showed our only home some real love and compassion. We, as individuals, may not be personally responsible for the damage; but knowing what we do, we can take up the mantle of healing the hurt.

Share your thoughts and ideas

On Social Media using the hashtag #BreatheFree and tag us @VolvoAutoIndia