Air Quality Champions

We are working with Southampton City Council and Global Action Plan (GAP) to recruit and train volunteer Air Quality Champions in Southampton. Would you like to join us?

The first campaign for Air Quality Champions will be no-idling events taking place across Southampton. The initial commitment is one training session (approx. 1 hour) and one no-idling event (approx. 2 hours), but of course you can volunteer for more no-idling events and get involved with future campaigns if you wish.

As an Air Quality Champion you will first receive free training, where you will learn about air pollution and health, and how idling cars contribute to local air pollution. You will be fully trained in approaching and chatting to drivers in a friendly, informative and non-judgmental way to persuade them of the benefits of not idling.

At the no-idling events you will work in pairs as part of a team, supported by the Environment Centre (tEC) and Southampton City Council staff. Events will be in pre-arranged locations such as on the high street or outside a school where idling and air pollution have been an issue. Our approach is to invite drivers to join our campaign and switch off their engines when stationary. Many drivers do not realise that idling is bad for air pollution, and may believe some common idling myths, so you will be equipped with myth-busting information and how to respond to drivers reasons for idling. When approached in a friendly and non-judgemental way, we find that over 80% of drivers switch off when asked by volunteers, and many pledge to give up the idling habit for good.

For more information and to register your interest in becoming an Air Quality Champion, please email We can then let you know about upcoming dates for no-idling training and events.

Here’s what volunteers have said about their experiences on the no-idling campaign:

“The training prior to the event was great preparation for approaching drivers and I found that everybody we spoke to were engaging, happy to switch off and interested to hear more.”

“I was nervous to begin with, but had a positive response from drivers, so felt much more confident very quickly.”

“Drivers we approached were interested in and engaged with us on the campaign. I was surprised how many weren’t really aware of the issues of air pollution and what they could do to make a difference, until we talked to them.”


No-Idling myth-busting

  • Idling is a significant contributor to local air pollution. It is less polluting to turn your engine off and restart it after a minute or longer than to leave your engine running.
  • Modern batteries need less engine running time to work and don’t need the engine on constantly to keep them charged.
  • Idling dirties your engine with incomplete combustion increasing wear and tear. Maintaining your vehicle is important for preventing breakdowns and reducing air pollution. Modern cars have much better ignitions and can be turned on and off without unnecessary wear on the engine.
  • Catalytic converters retain their heat for about 25 minutes after an engine is switched off. You don’t need to keep the engine switched on for them to work properly.
  • It can take up to an hour for an engine to cool down. Turning off your engine but keeping the ignition on and the fan blowing will provide warm air for some time.
  • Over 50% of Particulate Matter (PM) in cities can come from taxis and cars.
  • Walking or cycling on roads with less traffic can reduce your exposure to air pollutants by 50% or even more.

YOU are the key to cleaner air!

No-idling myth-busting facts from our partners at Global Action Plan (GAP).