Category : Advice

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


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


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!

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

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

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

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.


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!

Top Tips to Stay Healthy on the School Run

1. Park it, and take the alternative!

Hoof it!

Rule number one to help reduce emissions and keep your kids healthy is to walk the distance instead of taking the car. Research carried out by Sustrans shows that by 2050 it is predicted that 70% of girls and 55% of boys will be overweight or obese, but a short walk to school each day is easy, free and could lower your child’s risk of obesity.

Plan your route together in advance, finding quieter roads wherever possible. You can also accompany your child for a few days and as they gain confidence, gradually reduce how far you go – this teaches kids the value of exercise and important road safety tips!

On your bike!

As children get a little older, and are practicing for their cycling proficiency tests in school, it’s important to get them used to road safety while on their bikes. This isn’t only good for experience near roads, it also reduces dangerous emissions from cars. With Over 72,000 children being treated for asthma in direct relation to vehicle emissions, don’t underestimate the benefits of cycling to school!

In 2010, Sustrans released a report which stated nearly half of children surveyed wanted to cycle to school, but only 4% were allowed to – this mainly came down to parent’s road safety concerns. Here are some tips to help satisfy parent’s concerns while cycling to school:

  • Practice pre-planned journeys during quieter times like weekends or evenings.
  • Make sure your child is aware of cycling safety rules, especially when passing busier junctions or roads.
  • Talk to other parents to organise a walking or cycling group so children can accompany each other on the school run.

2. Carpool school run

If you live in a catchment area too far away to walk in which there are are several families from your child’s school, organise a carpool. Not only does this teach younger children important social skills and builds confidence, it can reduce the harmful emissions from 3 cars, to 1 car. Talk to your school about pulling together groups of parents in the same area to organise school runs.

10 times more people die in the UK because of illnesses related to vehicle pollution, than are killed by road traffic accidents each year. Tackle both of these issues while protecting your child’s health by giving some little ones a lift to school!

3. Talk to Switch Off and Breathe

Does your school have a problem with idling cars and buses? If so please report it to us. We can raise awareness in many ways, such as the placement of anti-idling signage.

We also provide a range of services to discourage idling around schools and encourage parents, and schools, who believe they have a problem with car pollution to get in contact with us:

  • We can provide a service to put up ‘Switch Off’ signs where needed.
  • We can provide leaflets advising people of the reasons why they should be switching off their engines.
  • We can provide free stationary on request to raise awareness.
  • We can attend information evenings or functions to teach children, teachers and parents the importance of reducing emissions around schools.

A child’s lungs are constantly developing and working much faster than an adult’s, therefore they are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution. You would not subject a child to cigarette smoke, yet vehicle emissions are just as dangerous and most drivers will park with their engines running outside of schools. It is harmful. Switch off your engine and let the children breathe.

Reducing emissions, and improving the health of children across Scotland is our number one priority, but we can’t accomplish this without the help of parents and teachers. If you would like more information on how you can help, get in touch with Switch Off and Breathe today.

6 Ways To Save The Planet On Your Summer Road Trip

6 Ways To Save The Planet On Your Summer Road Trip

With the grace of scorching weather covering Scotland this summer, many of us will be seasonally inclined to jump in the car, toss the picnic (and maybe the kids) in the back and take off for the weekend.

The good weather can make us forget most of our problems, however there is one that can’t be forgotten: the colossal effect some driving styles can have on the earth and its population.

This blog post will take you through the top 6 ways to help reduce emissions, your carbon footprint and the lives lost to air pollution. Take note, you can help save lives this summer!


1 – Switch Off and Breathe

Not only could you save money by not vehicle idling, you could save lives. Studies show that in 2005 air pollution contributed to 650 deaths per million people in the UK.

This is possibly the number one tip for those looking to reduce their emissions this summer. When cruising the countryside and stopping to grab a quick 99p cone, switch off your car instead of leaving it running – the effect you have could be tremendous.


2 – Take the Road Less Travelled

Both petrol and diesel emissions contain chemicals which are known to cause cancer and other serious illnesses – so cut it out!

This summer, instead of running the engine, take the road less travelled and bring the bikes out of retirement. Cycling to work or getting the train or bus cuts down on major emissions caused by traffic congestion – one sure way to help your environment.


road-trip-300x300 (1)3 – Let the Wind Blow Through Your Hair

Your car’s air conditioning could be blasting more than just cold air. A/C contributes to your car’s overall emission footprint, sending harmful fumes into the air around you and increasing fuel consumption significantly.

Help both your pocket and the planet by winding down the windows, and letting the clean wind blow through your hair.


4 – Tighten the Belt

Weighing down your car can significantly increase your fuel consumption and result in a major increase in air pollution.

Just an FYI, The World Health Organisation estimates that 7 million people died worldwide due to exposure to air pollution during 2012 – so do your bit and streamline your packing!


5 – The Buddy System

The buddy system: a universal path to efficiency! The same goes for car-sharing. If you are able to give co-workers a lift to work, or jump in someone else’s car, it’s a massive saver for the environment. Double the cars = double the journeys = double the pollution!

Embrace the buddy system to help your environment and save lives!


6 – Put the brakes on

Now, we’re not asking you to go full ‘Driving Miss Daisy’, you just need to drive the speed limit in order to reduce your car’s emissions.

Air Pollution is responsible for the loss of 6 months of life expectancy – is speeding now worth the loss of 6 months in the future? We don’t think so! So, observe the speed limit and help lengthen the lives of those around you.

Air Pollution affects us all, there’s no question about it. So when you’re planning your summer road trip, keep these tips in mind – they could help save the life of someone you know, and millions that you don’t.