Breathing Traffic Fumes… Exhausting.

We all know the air in modern cities is rarely great, but for kids it can be even worse – they do all their breathing so much closer to the level of all those exhaust pipes that it can be a major health hazard. Goose Green School in London’s East Dulwich have recently been fighting back against the noxious fumes with a range of measures including the installation of these British Recycled Plastic planters. Placed in pollution hotspots, they’re sited so that they and the plants grown in them will act as a ‘smog shield’, protecting the children on the pavement from the worst of the traffic emissions.

“Tangible, practical initiatives such as our Smog Shields Project seem to touch a lot of people,” said Kimberley Hickman, Project Manager. “Parents, community members and companies such as British Recycled Plastic are happy to support us for the greater good.  Parents shouldn’t feel despondent about the air pollution crisis. The mitigation measures we are putting into place and longer term change are both possible, we just need them to happen quickly for the sake of our children’s young lungs.”

Children and adults pose with Goos Green Primary's new smog shield planters

Change is in the air

The recycled plastic planters are part of a raft of new measures introduced by the school around Clean Air Day, aimed at improving air quality for the students. They have also installed a screen of green ivy around the playground and air purification units in every classroom, resulting in reports of marked improvements for asthma sufferers. The problem is being taken so seriously that, as part of the same project, some schools are even trialling road closures in areas where parents often sit in idling cars waiting for children. Headteacher Simon Wattam said “We’ve got a great set of things going on in the short term, thanks to our supporters such as British Recycled Plastic, but we also need long-term behavioural change about the use of cars, electric cars, walking to school or cycling. It’s all habitual and can’t be changed overnight. We can do a bit now, and create some quite significant changes, but need policy change from central government to allow further improvement.”

The grassroots efforts don’t stop there though – the school have also applied for funding for specialist ‘clean air planting’.  If the application is successful, the barriers will be even more efficient in their air cleansing properties. Talks are also in progress with Southwark Council about creating an exclusion zone around the school at pick-up and drop-off times, in order to make it safer and clean up the air further. With all this, plus the proposed “walking bus” (a community walk-to-school venture) and a “park ‘n’ stride” programme (to encourage those that need to drive to park further away and walk the final 5 minutes), Goose Green are really showcasing what can be done. Imagine if central government came on board to roll out these kinds of measures nationally..?

We’re very proud to be able to make some small contribution to such a worthwhile programme. We think the planters make a great, attractive solution and in spring when the plants have matured they’ll look fantastic and create a thicker, taller barrier at car-exhaust height. Congratulations to all the staff and pupils at Goose Green Primary on all their efforts to make the air better for everyone; you can follow them on Twitter @ggprimaryschool and find out more about Clean Air Day at

If this idea helping kids dodge pollution with recycled plastic planters has inspired you to get some planters of your own, you can find our range at