What Is It?
The “Breathe Free” partnership came to life in 2018. Joe Holder, co-founder of System of Service and Dyson partner, learned more about Dyson’s environmental improvement initiatives. Seeking to foster discussion on important environmental and social conversations while empowering local populations on the ground, Joe Holder and fellow System of Service co-founder Olivia Perez mused on how to combine social impact with community based moments. This was the birth of “Breathe Free,” a collaborative social impact program by System of Service and Dyson. The mission is to bring together the local community and thought leaders to drive action around environmental care with a specific emphasis on the air we breathe and the spaces we live in. We aspire to connect like-minded individuals to give back to their communities, empower others, and to leave our lived spaces better than we found them. How can we, both literally and figuratively, help people “Breathe Free”?
What Are We Doing?
This year we are hosting a connectors dinner in New York to spur conversation about this collective “Breathe Free” prompt and call to action. How can we use our access, acumen, and collective good to help raise awareness within our communities, and improve the environment around us?
What Have We Done?
Since 2018 events have taken place in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York with more planned for the future. In 2021, System of Service and Dyson opened up the “Breathe Free” Community Center in New York City, a three day pop-up activation. The space served as a community hub to refuel the mind, body, and soul. With Dyson technology on full display - including the Dyson backpack that tracks air quality as you wear it - we educated guests on the issue of poor air quality in an immersive gallery space and helped them understand what they could do to take positive action to improve their environment and connect with others. From hosting workouts, upcycling garment stations, vintage clothing shops, and a composting workshop, patrons left invigorated, connected, and better informed.
Why Should We Care?
Each day, our bodies take in more air than any other substance. Though we would never consider drinking contaminated water, many of us are breathing dirty air on a daily basis.
- We take 17,000 to 30,000 breaths a day.
- The average adult breathes in over 10,000 liters of air a day.
- Each breath draws between 5 million and 50 million pollutant particles into our lungs.
Air pollution is the mix of particulate matter and gases in the air. It can come from a variety of sources, including vehicle exhaust, wildfires, and everyday household products. Our lungs work hard to rid our bodies of air pollution, but even then, particles smaller than 10 microns in diameter can make their way deep into the body, giving them time to potentially impair healthy cells and tissues. Air pollution is one of the greatest environmental risks to health1. Our neighborhoods and environments can significantly change the levels of pollution we are exposed to, making this a clear health equity issue. This can be changed by data capture to better understand exposure risks and public policy to make actionable change.
Although air pollution is often invisible, its effects are not. According to the World Health Organization, negative effects of acute and chronic exposure to polluted air include:
- High levels of exposure can lead to reduced lung function, respiratory infections, and aggravated asthma.
- Chronic exposure to fine particulate matter can increase risk for diseases with a longer onset, like some noncommunicable diseases such as stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer.
What Can We Do?
Many are unaware of the causes and effects of air pollution, despite the significant effects it can have on health. The future of our air quality will be influenced by a number of complex and overlapping variables, which is why we need better education around the measures we can take to improve air quality for ourselves and others. System of Service and Dyson believe that environmental care starts in three key areas– improving yourself, your home, and the community around you.
Improve Personal Health:
- On high air pollution days, stay indoors, reduce outdoor air intake, clean indoor air with filters, and limit physical exertion, near high air pollution sources2.
- Stay active and eat a well-rounded diet. Air pollution increases our chances of non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. A well rounded diet and physical activity can help reduce these risks.
- Avoid high-traffic areas, as vehicles on busy highways can create high pollution levels up to one-third a mile away4. Choosing which route to take is as important for drivers as it is for pedestrians.
Improve Your Home:
- Choose household products that release fewer VOC and formaldehyde emissions. It’s also recommended to use solid or liquid cleaning agents and beauty products rather than aerosols.
- Increase air circulation in your home. Stagnant air can trap pollutants in your home. Open windows to let fresh air in when pollutants are low outside.
- Vacuum all types of floors regularly with a vacuum that has high filtration and traps dust effectively. This can help cut down on allergens like pet dander and pollen that often build up in the home.
Improve Your Community:
- Consider supporting local organizations taking steps to improve air quality in the community, whether it is a financial donation or volunteering your time.
- Be mindful about transportation. Consider healthier alternatives to driving, like walking, biking, or carpooling, and combine trips when you can3.
- Educate yourself on public policy proposals that can make a positive change for air quality in your area.
- Show up and make your voice heard in a safe and effective ways for the issues you care about.
How To Get Involved & Learn More:
- Common Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
- How cooking affects your home's air
- Causes, treatments and prevention
- How to improve indoor air quality
- 5 Ways to improve indoor air quality
- Why purify our homes? Dyson research indoor air quality.