February is (finally!) here! And that means that the Clear the Air Challenge has begun!
In the last few years, Utahns have worked together to improve air quality in the Salt Lake Valley. Early last year, the EPA announced Salt Lake City and Provo were in compliance with federal standards for PM 2.5, the fine particulate matter that pollutes our air quality along the Wasatch Front. This significant milestone came after years of community wide work to take action to clear the air.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed our air quality, too. Efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve resulted in considerable reductions in PM 2.5 and other air pollutants, up to a 59% reduction in particulate matter by May 2020.
In 2020, we learned that the steps we took to slow coronavirus cases resulted in quick changes to our air quality. COVID-19 continues to threaten our community’s health and economic security, resulting in increased social inequities. Many of the changes we’ve made in this crisis are not sustainable in the long term. However, our work to improve Salt Lake City’s resiliency includes taking actions that support public health and security, and that address environmental issues like air quality.
This month, we challenge Salt Lake City community members to participate in the 12th annual Clear the Air Challenge! The Clear the Air Challenge is a chance to level up your efforts to improve air quality. The Challenge runs the entire month of February, chosen due to the seasonal inversion that makes wintertime air quality especially bad. However, the steps you take this month can make a difference for our air all year long.
For many of us who are still spending more time at home, the challenge will feel a little different this year. We’ve put together some helpful facts, tips, and inspiration to get you going on the 2021 Clear the Air Challenge!
It’s February which means it’s time for the Ninth Annual Clear the Air Challenge! If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to get signed up and start identifying how you can drive less and drive smarter to save pollution. Read more
Transportation emissions are responsible for nearly 50% of the pollutants that make up our poor air quality. These pollutants become a serious concern during the winter months when normal atmospheric conditions (cool air above, warm air below) become inverted. This allows the air quality in the valley to become filled with particles that can quickly become unhealthy.
While there is much work being done to reduce those emissions (better transit, cleaner vehicles, more active transportation), the fact is– we can and should all help. We can each be a #CleanAirChampion.
There are many ways to participate! They all help the air and give you points in the Challenge:
- Ride the bus or train
- Bike or walk to work
- Link your errands together when you are driving (aka “trip chain”)
- Skip the trip by working from home or saving that errand for later
It all adds up!
The Utah Division of Air Quality estimates that if every driver along the Wasatch Front were to give up driving for just one day per week, it would keep 6,500 tons of emissions (or 85 times the weight of the International Space Station) out of our airshed.
The 2014 Challenge kicked off at the Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday, June 14.
Are you ready to help clear the air? The 2014 Clear the Air Challenge starts next week on Tuesday, July 1!
The month long Challenge is just that — an excellent way to challenge yourself to “drive down your miles” and reduce your emissions. Choose alternatives to driving alone and track your impact on air quality.
(And keep an eye on the leader board for the Salt Lake City Corporation network, which is SLCgreen’s home team!)
- The Clear the Air Challenge runs July 1-31, 2014.
- Register at www.CleartheAirChallenge.org (registration details below).
- Track the trips and miles you save by using alternatives to driving alone:
- Active transportation (walk, bike) — Biking and walking, also known as active transportation, are gaining popularity as healthy, efficient and sustainable means of transportation.
- Public transit — To put it simply, ride UTA!
- Carpool — Carpooling involves more than one person traveling together in a car and can be used for many occasions including commuting to work, attending special events or taking kids to school, practices or recreational activities. This strategy requires some coordination of schedules, but can be easily implemented to achieve significant results.
- Telework — Teleworking is possible from just about anywhere – from home, a telecenter, the local coffee shop or anywhere that has a wireless Internet connection. Teleworking can include conference calling or video conferencing for meetings instead of driving to an off-site location or working from a remote office.
- Skip the trip — The skip the trip strategy is as easy as it sounds. Just plan ahead to avoid unnecessary trips. These can be trips taken for work or for home activities.
- Learn more about these strategies at TravelWise.utah.gov.
- Join a network, track your impact and compete for great prizes!
This year there is a new and greatly improved tracking tool for the Clear the Air Challenge. The new tool will require all users to re-register, but the registration process will only take about 30 seconds and users now have the ability to sign up using their Facebook profile.
During the registration process you will be asked to join a team/network, although it’s not required. If you do not see your team/network listed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Team/network name
- Team/network admin name (the person on your team who will have admin rights)
- Admin’s email
- Team/network address
- Team/network description (a little about who your team is- optional)
The Challenge has approximately $10,000 in prizes to give out this year to participants. A number of weekly prizes will be randomly given to people who have earned badges. Grand prizes will be given to the winners in various categories, including: most trips saved, most miles saved and overall champion. The Grand Prize for the overall individual champion will be a $1,300 pair of powder skis provided by Ramp Sports.
Here are some of the features of the new technology implemented this year:
- Social media integration: Sign up with your Facebook account and share Clear the Air Challenge posts to your Timeline.
- Easier tracking and recording of saved trips:
- Set up favorite trips – Trips you take often can be easily added to your tracker dashboard
- Multiple day trip recording – Forgot to track each time you took the TRAX over the past week? Simply click on each of the days you made the same trip and record them all at once!
- Trip Planner: Not sure how you might use alternative transportation to get somewhere rather than your car? Simply enter in your starting and ending locations, and you’ll receive carpool, vanpool, transit, walking and biking options to get to your destination. Use this feature all year round whether you are tracking trips or not!