Switch off and breathe in 2019!

Did you make a New Year’s resolution for 2019?

More than 41% of people make resolutions for the year ahead, usually ranging from healthy eating; exercising more; saving; spending more time with family. According to a poll set up by ComRes, 38% of people who make resolutions want to exercise more, 33% want to lose weight, 32% want to eat more healthy and 15% want to take a more active approach to health.  

It’s safe to say, when it comes to improving health, the most popular resolution seems to be exercising more – and we’ve got a solution for you. In the morning, don’t turn that engine on! If it is possible for you to walk or run to work, why not start there? It can easily be included into your day to day routine!

Walk or Run

Walking or running to work is the best way to start the day, it is surprising the amount of steps or exercise you can get on that morning trip to work. Not only is it good for exercise, but also for clearing the head and waking yourself up before you get into the workplace. Start your day off the right way. Oh and you’ll be helping us on our mission to lower emissions!

Get On Your Bike

We’re aware that not everyone has the luxury of walking or running to work by being that little bit further away, but there’s another option- cycle to work! A lot of major cities have started a cycle to work scheme which has saved 112,210 tonnes of CO2 every year. Over 18,500 employees use the cycle to work scheme and 67% of those would travel to work by car if they weren’t involved in the scheme. So, if you can get on that bike and give cycling to work a try.

Help Make Our Environment Healthy

If walking, running or cycling is not possible then why not ensure a healthy environment for all those living in central Scotland by switching off your engine if you’re standstill for more than 10 seconds.

Our mission is to reduce vehicle pollution therefore we provide assistance by:

    • Conducting emissions testing on vehicles
    • Dealing with smoky vehicles that cause air pollution
  • Encouraging vehicle owners to not idle unnecessarily on our roads

This in turn improves the air quality for everyone the region.

Let’s make our New Year’s resolution together in 2018 – to reduce emissions and get healthy whilst doing so!

public transport

5 Benefits of Doing Your Commute on Public Transport

We know the temptation to reject public transport and take your car into work is strong. You’re in control of your own time… mostly – traffic aside, you can pack as much lunch as you can carry, and enjoy your own personal space.

However, with more cars on the road than ever, air pollution is becoming a very real problem; especially in cities. As Dr Penny Woods, of the British Lung Foundation, said:

“Air pollution is reaching crisis point worldwide, and the UK is faring worse than many countries in Western Europe and the US.”

So, we’ve pulled together a few benefits of taking public transport that might have never crossed your mind before! Let’s see if you can be persuaded…


1. Helping To Reduce Emissions

Firstly, there’s the benefit to the environment. By taking public transport you can help reduce the amount of cars on the road, and so reduce the amount of pollution being pumped into the surrounding environment.


2. Catch Up On Some Reading

Utilise the extra time you gain by commuting! Whether you’ve got bits and pieces to prepare for work, or you’ve got a novel you’ve been meaning to dive into – you now can with your new found time.


3. … Or Some Sleep

Equally, early starts and late finishes – especially in Winter – can be exhausting. Research suggests power naps are full of benefits – including helping you to feel more alert, which makes you more focussed. Further benefits are said to be that it can lower blood pressure levels (Full article at bit.ly/2hn1yDz).


4. Avoid Daily Road Rage

It’s simple really – no car, no car park dodgems, and no traffic to contend with! Instead, you can sit back and relax on your chosen mode of transport. Sailing along bus lanes, or flying through tunnels and across fields will feel even more satisfying when you remember those frustrating moments – where all you have to stare at is the rear end of the car in front – that you’ve left behind.


Of course, we understand it’s not always possible to find suitable public transport if you don’t live somewhere central. But if you do have the option – is gaining time, and a little sanity enough to encourage you to switch from the daily commute in the car to the bus/train/subway/tram? Let us know!

When It’s Clear – Go!

It’s a Wintery morning and the cold has well and truly set in. The car is frosted over and you have 30 minutes before you leave for work. Does this sound familiar to you?

Do you:

  1. Idle the car with the heating turned on full, with 30 minutes before you leave the house
  2. Use all the tools you can to defrost the car, whilst running the engine for as short a time as needed to clear the windows fully
  3. With 5 minutes to leave, you put the heating on full and scrape the car to the best of your ability clearing enough of the window to just see the road in front

If your answer is a) or c) – or even b) for that matter! – read on to find out how to defrost your car so it’s safe to drive – without pumping harmful emissions into the surrounding environment for longer than necessary!


Ways To Cut Down On Winter Idling

Firstly, make sure to spend time familiarising yourself with your car’s heating and defrosting functionality. This might include back window heating, for example. Ideally, sue this for as short a time as possible to conserve fuel, and limit emissions.


  • Car Cover

To ensure a speedy departure, use a car cover or tarpaulin to prevent ice forming in the first place! If any ice has formed, then use heating, de-icer and a scraper to clear these bits.

Tip: Use all year round to protect from heat and UV damage, tree sapping and bird droppings!


  • De-icer & Scraper

Store a bottle of de-icer spray in the boot of your car alongside a decent scraper. Spray all the icey parts of the windows, leave briefly so that the ice starts to dissolve, and use the scraper to clear.

Tip: Buy a couple of bottles of de-icer at a time so there’s less chance you running out just when you need it!


  • Luke-warm Water

Forgotten to buy de-icer? Heat a bucket of water to a luke-warm temperature and pour this over the icey parts of your vehicle windows. Use a scraper or cloth to clear ice quicker.

Tip: Do not use very hot or boiling water – rapid temperature change may cause your windows to crack!


Emissions: The Facts

We’ve all heard it before – idling your vehicle is bad for us and the environment. But why? And what are emissions made of to make them harmful?

‘Idling’ is when a vehicle is sitting stationary, with its engine running unnecessarily. When this is done without reason it effectively gives the driver 0 mpg in fuel consumption and subjects those around the vehicle to continuous fumes and engine noise.

Within the fumes are pollutants, such as Carbon Monoxide which reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen to the brain. We also see small amounts of Benzene in fumes which is emitted from vehicle exhausts as unburnt fuel; it’s toxic and carcinogenic. There is also particulate matter, PM10s, which are very small particles that can pass deep into the lungs causing respiratory complaints.

For a full list of what makes up exhaust fumes see our website at switchoffandbreathe.org/emissions-information.


The key to helping cut down on idling whilst defrosting your car is a bit of planning. Make sure to choose a solution that’s right for you, which will help to reduce the amount of harmful emissions your vehicle produces. You might not feel like you’re making such a big difference, but imagine if your whole street… your whole neighbourhood… your whole city(!) cut down on producing these harmful fumes!

The Scary Facts of Air Pollution

As if Halloween wasn’t enough – we’re all being hit with quite real, and quite scary, news stories regarding air pollution in the UK right now. New information seems to surface each week telling us about the harmful effects of emissions from vehicles, the continued rise of air pollution in cities, and what impact this is having on our (and the environment’s) health.

Dr Penny Woods, of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Air pollution is reaching crisis point worldwide, and the UK is faring worse than many countries in Western Europe and the US.”


Headline Grabbing Facts

  1. Worldwide air pollution contributed to 6.5 million premature deaths in 2015 (Link to article)
  2. Outdoor air pollution is estimated to cause 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK (Link to article)
  3. Outdoor air pollution is estimated to cost the UK £22.6bn (Link to article)
  4. Evidence suggests long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution has links to asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, problems with brain development and cognition, type 2 diabetes and a decline in lung function in adults (Link to website)


What Next?

It’s all good and well investigating and reporting the problem – but how do we resolve it? With our absolute dependence on vehicles, this worldwide issue is not an easy fix.

In large cities, such as London, it’s arguable that congestion charges go some way in helping lower the density of air pollution, as well as the introduction of more energy efficient public transport. In Scotland, it’s been announced that the four biggest cities will introduce Low Emissions Zones, banning the most polluting vehicles by 2020.

Furthermore, could our sole use of electric cars be in the not so far future? In September 2017, the Scottish government announced a target to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles in Scotland by 2032 (Link to article).


What Can We Do?

Headlines aside, whether the reported figures are entirely accurate or not, we know air pollution continues to be a problem. We need to protect our health, as well as the health of the environment.

Whilst manufacturers continue to work on producing more efficient vehicle models, and governments work on controlling the amount of vehicles on the road – what can we do? From the vehicle we drive and the way we drive it, to not driving at all – there are lots of things we can do to try and cut down on the amount of emissions released into the environment.


Check out our website for more information about emissions, as well as detailed advice about what we can do to reduce the amount we produce! 

Drive Greener On The Job

Whether you’re a driver by trade, or drive a lot due to the nature of your work, there are a number of ways to drive greener. By putting some of these simple tips into place you can help to cut down on the harmful exhaust emissions your vehicle releases into the environment!


What is Eco-Driving?

Eco driving includes the following actions:

  • Maintaining a steady speed at a low RPM
  • Shifting gears early
  • Checking tyre pressures frequently
  • Considering how much fuel you are burning

Transport companies and fleet operators can actually reduce their costs by up to 15% by training drivers to use these simple actions.


Put an End to Excessive Idling

‘Idling’ is when a vehicle is sitting stationary, with its engine running unnecessarily. Many car manufacturers are now making models with eco-friendly stop-start technology. However, if you do not drive one of these vehicles this doesn’t mean cutting the engine on short stops; such as traffic lights. Furthermore, this isn’t to say you won’t need to use your engine to power something, or for heat.

Waiting to pick someone up, sitting in your car for lunch or a for break are all situations perfect for switching off your engine. Otherwise, idling effectively gives the driver 0 mpg in fuel consumption, and subjects those around the vehicle to continuous fumes and engine noise.


Vehicle Health Checks

In order to reduce the amount of harmful emissions and pollutants released by vehicles, regular maintenance checks are required.

The actual schedule of car maintenance varies depending on the year, make and model of a car, its driving conditions and driver behaviour. In addition, emissions testing can help ensure that vehicles are within the required legal limits.

Happy driving!

Switch Off & Visit the Edinburgh Fringe

It’s Fringe season in Edinburgh and we’re so excited to see the wealth of talent this year’s festival has to offer. From the UK’s top comedians to local actors and actresses, it’s difficult not to be impressed by the high standard of performers at this festival.

Just like every other Fringe-enthusiast we could spend hours gushing about all of the fantastic acts, but we’re here to address another issue, and that issue is transport; so if you’re planning to take the car to the festival, we’re talking to you.

Let’s cut to the chase, we all know that more cars on the road means greater levels air pollution which, ultimately, has a detrimental impact on our precious environment. While we could take this opportunity to go into great detail about these impacts to sway you away from taking the car, we’ve decided to give you a helping hand. We’re here to discuss the benefits of not travelling by car because, trust us, taking your car to a busy day at the Fringe is the last thing you want to be doing.


Parking in a city centre can be a nightmare at the best of times so imagine trying to find a space during the incredibly busy fringe season; it’s like mission impossible at times! In fact, between trying to source a space and making your way from that space into the hustle and bustle of the Fringe, you could end up wasting the first hour of your day. Plus if you’re making a day of it, an entire day’s parking in the city centre comes at a cost.

So, unless you enjoy trying to find a needle in a haystack or have the patience of a saint, we recommend switching off those engines. After all, who doesn’t want to spend more time exploring and less time stressing about parking.

Public Transport

Public transport is a fantastic service and we thoroughly believe not enough people make the most of it. While the obvious benefit of public transport is the reduction of cars on the road, there is a little more to it than just saving the environment.

By opting to travel on public transport you eliminate the need for a designated driver; this means you get to spend more time socialising as a group. Plus for groups of over 18’s, you can all relax and have a drink without someone sitting out (although remember to drink responsibly ladies and gentlemen).

Additionally, most transport services will drop you right in the city centre so you can arrive raring to go!

Whether you’re travelling from up North, down south or the central belt, we’re sure there’s plenty of busses and trains to cater for your journey. P.S. if you’re planning a family day out, see our previous blog for details on some of the fantastic child friendly public transport offers.

Less Restrictions

Our third and final benefit is a complete no brainer; if you don’t have the car, you limit your restrictions. You don’t have to plan your day around popular travel times, you’re not up against the parking ticket clock, you don’t need to stress about car park closing times… The list goes on!

While we too could go on in on, we believe that in limiting your restrictions through leaving the car at home, you can have a stress free, enjoyable day at one of Edinburgh’s most exciting annual events.

All in all, this Fringe season, we encourage you to switch off and make the absolute most of your day at this fantastic festival.

Schools Out For Summer!

Schools out! Which means it’s time for your kids to have fun and enjoy themselves, and we think that means you should too! Afterall, if you’re planning a family day out, why should you spend time driving to and from your destination when you could sit back, relax and save on fuel using public transport. More importantly, opting for public transport means you can save the environment while having fun!

To give you a helping hand, we’ve picked out some of the best public transport deals for you and your family to enjoy during the holidays.

Scotrail Kids Go Free

The Scotrail “Kids Go Free” is a great deal to invest in if you’re planning a family trip away in Scotland. The incredible deal allows for up to two children, aged 5-15, to travel free with each adult on off-peak services to any destination in Scotland; in other words, one adult ticket admits two children for free!

…and the benefits don’t stop there. The ticket allows for one child to gain free admittance to top attractions such as the Loch Lomond Sea Life Aquarium and the Edinburgh Dungeons.

For more information, including terms and conditions, head over to Scotrail.co.uk.

Citylink Kids Go Free On Weekends

Citylink’s fantastic Family Day Ticket allows for children up to the age of 15 to travel for free during weekends from any Citylink point within Scotland.

Citylink offer bus services to many of Scotland’s most beautiful destinations, including those which are usually harder to reach using public transport. You and your family could find yourselves taking adventures to breathtaking locations such as Skye, Oban, Mull and Loch Lomond – or visiting some of Scotland’s big cities such as Glasgow and Aberdeen.

To get more information on this fantastic deal, visit Citylink.co.uk.

Megabus £3 Fares

This summer, Megabus have added 1 million £3 fares on trips within the UK. To get your hands on this amazing deal all you need to do is ensure you book in at least 4 weeks advance before the 7th of September!

Megabus offer services to many fantastic destinations within the UK including Cardiff, Glasgow, London and Inverness; the possibilities for your summer getaway location are endless.

For terms and conditions head over to Megabus.com.

By opting to invest in one of these fantastic public transport offers, you’ll not only save yourself money, but you’ll help save the environment too! According to Tree Hugger, the environmental cost of 4 people travelling by car is 104kg of C02; this is the same emission levels as 3-8 people travelling by bus, that’s up to double the amount of people that can fit in a car! Travelling by public transport will therefore strengthen the fight against the spreading of toxic emissions which are extremely harmful to the environment.


5 Reasons You Should Ditch The Car This Christmas for Public Transport

The tempting comfort of your car in winter makes it understandable that you’d choose it over public transport. It’s cold, your car is right there in front of your home… but that decision is often immediately followed by regret when you hit the traffic and parking madness that ensues over the festive period. Not only that, but the extra heat you’re trying to pump through the car will increase the amount of pollution released into the air.

Still not sure you’re ready to ditch the car? This blog should help convince you!

1. Cost to the environment

The main reason we’d love for you to get on board with public transport is to cut down on the large amount of harmful emissions produced at this time of year. We’re all guilty of the increase in the use of the car in colder weather and being tempted to idle the engine.

Most recently the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said:

“Tiny specks of soot from vehicle exhaust, brake linings and tyres, as well as nitrogen dioxide gas, damage people’s health by increasing the risk of cancer and respiratory and heart diseases.” (www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38156778)

Every little thing you can do to help cut down on these bad habits will make a difference to the effect emissions have on the environment, as well as the health of others.

2. Cost to you

How much petrol do you put in your car each week? And how much does this rise throughout winter when idling for longer than is absolutely necessary during the defrosting of your car… probably more than you think!

By taking public transport you can travel in comfort and warmth for the whole journey without the hassle and for less cost.

3. Festive Traffic

Whether you’re driving back to your hometown for Christmas or to the shops to pick up presents, there is one thing you are guaranteed – hundreds of other people doing exactly the same thing at the same time. Heavy traffic can test your nerves and often won’t get you anywhere quicker.

Why put yourself through it? Hop on the bus or train to save time and avoid the stress!

4. Festive Parking

There are often lots of festive family events on in the run up to Christmas – pantomimes, Christmas markets, visits to see Santa amongst last minute dashes to the shops! Do you find yourself piling friends and family into multiple cars and then struggle to find parking?

Forget that! Extend the fun to include the trip there. Leave the cars at home, give the designated driver a break and gather friends and family together by bus or train.

5. Bad Weather

There’s nothing worse that battling your way through rain, sleet, snow or fog when you’re driving; especially on long journeys to see loved ones. Take a break this year and give your family and friends some peace of mind by taking public transport.

Being able to sit back and relax without the added stress of making good time or taking a wrong turn doesn’t sound too bad does it?

Emissions Case Study: Amsterdam

When we think of places that have become world leaders in lowering carbon emissions, Amsterdam is the obvious first choice for many of us.  Amsterdam is known as the bicycle capital of the world. The high prevalence of cyclists in the city has gone a long way to lowering its overall emissions. However, in February 2016, Mayor Eberhard van der Lann announced plans to make Amsterdam Europe’s first emission-free city by 2025. So, let’s look at how Holland’s largest city, a bustling tourist spot and centre of industry, hopes to become a role model for others seeking to lower their carbon footprint.

Amsterdam 1955-1975

It’s hard to imagine now that the bicycle culture of Amsterdam was once under siege but in the post-WWII era, this was certainly the case. Affordable motoring entered the Dutch market in the mid-fifties and was immediately snapped up by many of the city’s residents. However, with the increase in cars, came the development of more roads. Many areas of Amsterdam were destroyed to accommodate increasing levels of motor traffic. Road traffic fatalities hit 3,300 in 1971, of which more than 400 were children.

The increasing number of casualties and the changing landscape of the city led to protests. It is the work of these activists that Amsterdam must thank for its continued dedication to cycling as the city’s preferred mode of transport. It has also had the handy by-product of significantly reducing carbon emissions, whilst the rest of the world has steadily increased.

Amsterdam Today

Amsterdam is currently home to around 750,000, whilst attracting thousands of tourists every year. Many canals run through the city. Of all cities on water ranked in the European Green City Index, Amsterdam ranks the highest. It current ranks fifth overall, with a score of 83.03 out of 100.

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of visiting will testify that the primary mode of transport is cycling. Cyclists are well accommodated, with numerous cycle paths weaving through the city. You’ll find very few instances of heavy traffic. Although CO2 emissions are relatively low, Amsterdam’s lawmakers are determined to bring them in line with the rest of their extremely high-scoring areas in the Green City Index. Thus, laws regarding traffic and transport are likely to be overhauled in the coming years, with the aim of reaching their target of a 34% reduction by 2020. This is far more ambitious than the EU’s overall target to decrease carbon emissions by 20% by 2020.

Amsterdam’s Carbon Neutral Future

The city’s plans to become carbon neutral will be introduced gradually over the coming years. The first change will take place in 2017 when an environmental zone will be drawn out. No vans manufactured before 2000 will be allowed inside the environmental zone. By 2018, further restrictions to the environmental zone will come into play. Tour buses produced before 2005, taxis before 2009 and scooters pre-2011, will all be prohibited from entering.

Far from simply penalising high emissions driving, those who practice ‘clean driving’ will be rewarded. These perks include subsidies for electric vehicles and a possible tax deduction for electric scooters. By 2018, the city hopes to double the number of electric charging points, with the aim of encouraging more citizens to become carbon neutral.

Amsterdam is at the forefront of the fight against high carbon emissions and a great role model for other governments looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Currently, whilst Amsterdam ranks second for transport emissions.  A high prevalence of vehicle idling, heavy traffic and the lack of more carbon neutral transport options have led to high transport emissions. In the Climate Change Scotland Act (2009), the Government set out plans which requires at least a 42% reduction in emissions by 2020. Scotland’s reduction commitments are among the strictest in place in the UK at present. 

You can help Scotland to reach this goal by becoming more conscious of your carbon footprint in your everyday life.  Don’t wait for legislators to impose emissions regulations. Get proactive now. We’ve got plenty of tips on how you can reduce your own level of C02 emissions. Check out some of our other blogs for helpful advice.

7 Benefits of Cycling Instead of Driving!

7 Benefits of Cycling Instead of DrivingImprove your health and the quality of your family’s life by cycling instead of driving – it’s actually a lot easier than you think!

Live Longer

A study conducted by Kings College London on over 2.4k identical twins showed that those who completed three 45-minute bike rides a week were on average nine years ‘biologically younger’ than those who did not. This even surpassed conditions such as smoking, BMI levels and other influences.

“Those who exercise regularly are at significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, all types of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity,” says Dr Lynn Cherkas, who conducted the research. “The body becomes much more efficient at defending itself and regenerating new cells.”

Get there faster

We all know that driving usually feels like the easiest, most convenient option to get somewhere. However, research by Citroen shows that in the UK’s major cities, you could get to your destination in around half the time if you cycle as opposed to driving.

For instance, it may take you around 30/40 minutes to get to Edinburgh City Centre from Leith during rush hour, however when cycling, it would only take a fraction of that time with all the congestion-avoiding cycling routes! Save driving time, parking time and road rage by jumping on the bike instead of in the car.

Save the planet

Not only are bikes pollution free, they take up less city space, they are a tiny fraction of the weight of a car and are more flexible to take shorter routes.

Both Petrol and Diesel emissions contain chemicals which is known to cause Cancer and other serious illnesses and In Scotland right now, 1 in 14 people are currently receiving treatment for asthma.

Save more money

The average UK household spends around £73 per week on fuelTaking small steps towards cycling once or twice a week can reduce your fuel spend drastically.

Hop on your bike for short commutes and use the spare cash for a Friday night treat for the family!

Avoid pollution

Not only can you reduce your own emissions, you can avoid heavily polluted areas like motorways and busy expressways by cycling through quicker, less congested areas.

There are many cycle paths and trails around Glasgow and Edinburgh that can help you breathe fresh air instead of heavily polluted, emission filled air. Take a look here to find your quickest cycle route.

Improve your family’s health

All parents know that their actions directly affect the behaviour and opinions of their young children – so change the way they think about pollution.

Currently, in the UK 72,000 children are being treated for asthma as a direct result of emissions. We can help reduce this staggering statistic by simply driving a little less!

For more information on how you can help reduce emissions around your city and local schools, visit our informations page. It’s time to switch off, and breathe!

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