In 2018 Leeds’ air quality was at such a low level that the city was to introduce The Leeds Clean Air Zone to met legal standards. Immediate improvements prior the scheme’s launch meant that its objectives were achieved without it, and subsequent lockdowns have accelerated the reduction in pollution. 

It is vital that the city continues in this direction, which requires a conscious collective effort. There are small changes that we can all make, and indeed many people already have, which not only help the environment but can also benefit our lifestyles; Leeds is providing the tools to help us adapt easily…

On foot and on your bike

The most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint and increase your health is to swap car journeys for exercise. The impact of fewer vehicles on the roads has been clear for all to see, and as walking, running and cycling have all grown in popularity during this time, Leeds is acting to maintain these positive changes. More areas are becoming pedestrianised to make for a foot-friendly and cycle-happy city, with shops to cater for new active lifestyles. 

Cyclists and runners have an array of places at which to get their gear, from beginners looking for affordable entry and advice to experienced athletes kitting themselves out like a pro. The likes of Lifecycles in Bramley and All Terrain Cycles in Wetherby have stocks of quality; Fine Fettle Cycles and Leisure Lakes Bikes are friendly independents and family run successes respectively; Chevin Cycles and Yorkshire Runner in Otley and The Complete Runner in Ilkley are perfectly positioned for exercise in the great Yorkshire outdoors; and cooperatives Leeds Bike Mill and Edinburgh Cycle, plus community interest company The Bikes College provide recycled bikes for added eco-friendliness. 

On the buses 

For practical journeys, it is not always possible to walk or cycle, which is why it is vital for the city to provide other alternatives. There has been encouragement for people to drive away from their cars for a while now, with incentives such as car shares to avoid single use vehicles. Better still is for folk to hop on public transport, whether by train or by bus. 

Regular links to all parts of Leeds can be accessed between local rail stations, in Headingley, Horsforth, Morley, Guiseley, Garforth and more. But as traffic reduces on the roads, it is perhaps even more appealing to take the bus, as local bus companies step up with cost effective offers and efficient services. First Bus reach out to all areas of Leeds, and the range of tickets are sure to suit your needs, whether for unlimited travel, group freedom, or a single journey. And their app makes planning easy, where you can buy mobile tickets and view a space checker to find the quietest times and ensure a comfortable ride. 

Zero waste and plastic free

In addition to the direct effect we can each make by our choice of transport, there are other behaviours which can impact equally strongly. One such way has been growing in recent times as a necessary movement towards a sustainable environment: zero waste and plastic free. The production of materials such as plastic and packaging and their build up into landfill all emits air pollutants, and so shopping at refill stores is an important action to stop this. 

Leeds has had many open up in recent years, stocking high quality produce such as dried foods and cleaning products, all to be taken out and used without any unnecessary excess. In the city centre Ecotopia is fighting the good fight, whilst suburbs are catered for at Leeds Refills in Hyde Park, Waste Not in Burley-in-Wharfedale, The Refilling Station in Chapel Allerton, Refill & Go in Garforth, and Zero Muda in Horsforth. Wherever you are, there’s no reason not to clean the air. 

Images: The Headrow, All Terrain Cycles, The Refilling Station