Having the opportunity to reflect on the air quality in my neighbourhood and other parts of Bristol, made me realise how varied air quality is depending on which area of a city you’re in, and how this seems to strongly correlate with social background and race. I have noticed the more white dominant, affluent areas of Bristol (e.g. Clifton, Redland) seem to be more spacious and the air felt cleaner, whereas areas that are more culturally and racially diverse, with more working class families, feel more enclosed and the air is ‘stuffy’ (there are more car fumes, overflowing bins and piles of waste on the streets, which make it harder to breathe!). I have since noticed this difference even more when I walk around Bristol. I have also become more aware of how my breathing is affected by air quality, especially since having Covid.
It was useful to reflect on the places I go to breath. It made me realise that I overlook this part of my health a lot and made me appreciate how important healthy lungs are, and not not take this for granted! It’s deepened my understanding for how much the environment is linked to our health, and how many other issues can intersect with this. It’s made me mindful of the environments I choose to be in and more appreciative of the level of privilege I have in being able to access healthier environments.
Since having this conversation, I have made more conscious effort to seek and spend more time in greener spaces with cleaner air around Bristol as part of my self-care. I have also talked about this topic with friends and family, which has encouraged them think more consciously about what they are exposing their bodies and minds to daily. I feel a coexistence of being inspired/hopeful and powerless/overwhelmed. I feel inspired to research what is being done to improve air quality in Bristol and how I can support this movement as an individual community member. I am reassured this environmental and health issue is being challenged by many and believe that through collaborative effort we have a chance to make our air cleaner. But I also feel overwhelmed by how big this issues is and how a lot of systemic change and action needs to happen first. Change is possible, but it will not happen overnight and it will take a lot of commitment and teamwork!