Sunday, February 13, 2011

No drive Sunday

Before travelling to Milan, I was constantly being told about the bad pollution; I had a vision of having to wear surgical masks in the streets, (which I would do fashionably by the way), but I was concerned how the young ones would keep their masks on as keeping a hat on their head already seemed to be an issue.  Few cities have the luxury of having clean air; for many, it is an everyday problem. You may not believe it, but Milan is currently ranked number 6 in the world for the worst air quality in a city. The city has the most smog in Europe because of all the cars (and mopeds) running around. Apparently small chemical particles are the cause of health worries, which can cause respiratory problems and cancer.  Unfortunately, I do not feel the Milanese are serious about these health worries, perhaps eradicating their bad smoking habits would be a good starting point to rectify the situation.  Majority of the population smoke, young and old; I think they missed out on that global health memo.  Milan is all about fashion; is it in fashion to smoke again? Fortunately for my family, Milan is fast becoming successful in dealing with their air problem, (in regards to the cars).

As part of an anti-smog plan, Milan has implemented an Ecopass scheme; charging vehicles to enter an 8km2 area of the city centre, this is in hope that we can improve the quality of the urban environment. The charge depends on the euro emission standard of the vehicle. (Obviously the smaller the car the less emissions, I am  now grateful for my husbands choice of car.  If we did not have the Fiat, we probably could not afford to drive; the fee may be between 2€ and 10€ a day!) The scheme has been effective in curbing not only pollution emissions, but also congestion.

Also I have recently been introduced to the matter of  'No drive Sunday'. (Do not quote me on this, it is not seen on billboards; just my own slang; sounds like the calling for a 2 for 1 feed at your local restaurant). Pretty self explanatory.  You can not drive your car on a Sunday, and if caught you are fined.  Of course this is not every Sunday, but there is no particular schedule for this, (similar to how they decide on Sunday shopping trading), I think everyone just meets once a week, compares social calendar or draws short straws, then takes next agenda action!  Apparently this is something you are just supposed to know.  Now we check the commune Milano website once a week and look for the pop up alerting us to restricted traffic.  This has been in play for the last 2 Sundays, considering we have been here for 8 months, pretty sure I have missed a few alerts. 

Even if your city is not on the list for worst quality of air, it is still important to look after the environment.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
2. Use Less Heat and Air Conditioning
3. Change a Light Bulb
4. Drive Less and Drive Smart
5. Buy Energy-Efficient Products
6. Use Less Hot Water
7. Use the "Off" Switch
8. Plant a Tree
9. Encourage Others to conserve

I pretty much have all these points covered apart from 6 and 8, (bit hard to plant a tree living in an apartment in the middle of Milan).  My son definitely has number 7 covered, off on off on off on off on, what is it with kids and light switches, constantly feel like I am at a disco.  Point 9, now achieved... go on... get to it!

1 comment:

  1. No, you probably didn't miss any alerts of 'No Drive Sundays'. From what I remember, most, if not all, of them are at this time of year - January to April.

    It's not quite as random as you think (although I appreciate it can seem that way) as it is based on the pollution index. Once it gets to a certain level they 'shut the city down' for one or more Sundays. What we need is some rain or wind and since there is rarely wind, it has to be rain which we now have - so, in theory, we should be OK for a few weeks now.