While it doesn’t always look like it outside, inversion season is in full swing this winter. We’ve already experienced multiple “orange” air quality days in the Salt Lake Valley and can expect to see more as winter continues. However, making small changes to your current lifestyle can yield tremendous results when it comes to air quality. Here are five little ways to show UCAIR about Utah’s air:
1. Carpool at least once a week
If you have a 60-mile daily commute, you could save $4,388 annually if you carpooled with another person. Even if you can’t carpool every day, aim for once a week. There are easy resources, such as the TravelWise Tracker and UTA’s RideShare Program, to get you started.
2. Ride transit when you can
Did you know that if you ride transit just once a week, you can reduce emissions by 5.4 pounds? Riding transit in Utah is easy and convenient. Not only are you improving the air quality, but you also earn significant “me-time” by letting someone else drive.
3. Never idle your car
Choosing to never idle your car is perhaps the easiest lifestyle change you can make on this list. Research indicates that the average person idles their car five to ten minutes a day. Cutting idle time makes sense during inversions, because reduced idling also reduces the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), both precursor gases for the formation of PM2.5 during inversions. If you are going to stop your car for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine.
4. Plan ahead
By planning ahead, you can save significant time and money on your commute. UDOT’s CommuterLink communicates Utah’s traffic status to the public by using more than 700 overhead traffic cameras and 1,500 in-road traffic sensors on all major UDOT roads. Utilizing alternative work schedules—such as leaving 15 minutes later—can save you serious time when it comes to your commute when you plan ahead.
5. Have your company participate in the Clear the Air Challenge
In February, companies all across the state of Utah will participate in the Clear the Air Challenge. The goal is to eliminate 300,000 single-occupant trips to save two million miles. Encourage your company to participate with a startup toolkit that contains resources to spread the word. There’s nothing like friendly competition to encourage your coworkers to clean up their act when it comes to air quality.
While our air quality is affected by numerous little acts, we have the power to improve air quality based on our little acts. If all Utahns work together to make small changes to our current routines, we can make a difference in improving the air we breathe.