One month of driving less and smarter to help improve Utah’s Air
SALT LAKE CITY, UT (JUNE 28, 2022) – The Salt Lake Chamber, along with its partners Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) and TravelWise, kicked off the 13th Annual Clear the Air Challenge today. Issued by business, government and community leaders, the Challenge is a month-long competition designed to encourage Utahns to reduce their vehicle emissions by choosing alternatives to driving alone.
“Just as each of us contributes to emissions that lead to poor air quality, we all have an opportunity and responsibility to make a difference,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “We recognize that there are no perfect answers to keep our air clean, but there are practical solutions that can help us achieve meaningful results. By choosing to educate ourselves on the issue and reduce our impact we can improve our air quality.”
Transportation emissions are responsible for nearly fifty percent of the pollutants that make up Utah’s poor air quality. By driving smarter, we can protect our health, environment, economy and quality of life. For this reason, participants of the Clear the Air Challenge use TravelWise strategies like carpooling, using public transit, teleworking, trip chaining, walking and riding their bike or scooter to reduce their emissions and help clear Utah’s air.
“One thing we are incredibly interested in at UCAIR is what motivates people to change their behavior,” said Kim Frost, executive director of UCAIR. “The Clear the Air Challenge helps businesses and individuals understand how much of an effect their actions have in helping clear our air. When individuals feel like their actions are effective, they are much more likely to change their behaviors, not only during the challenge, but year-round.”
A primary objective of the Challenge is to educate Utahns on our air quality issues. For the past few years, the Challenge was held in February to address wintertime inversion when our air quality is visibly at its worst. However, this year it was transitioned to July to focus on Utah’s summertime ozone issues, as it is just as harmful as winter inversion, and the public is less aware of its harmful effects as it is not as visible.
“At several times of the year, our air quality isn’t so great – it’s our geography, large population, and the growth we’ve had,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “That said, we’ve seen businesses, community leaders, and organizations step up, and we’re so grateful for their cooperative spirit. If we all make small changes and are deliberate about our transportation choices, it would really help improve our air quality.”
Since the Challenge started in 2009, participants have helped make a big difference in improving Utah’s air quality. In that time, participants have eliminated almost 1.2 million trips, saved more than 17 million miles and reduced their emissions by more than 5 thousand tons.
“We’re proud to stand with our partners to kick off this important initiative,” said Carlton Christensen, chair of the Utah Transit Authority Board of Trustees. “Your commitment to our health and the quality of life is helping to improve air quality and reduce congestion on our roads and highways. A huge part of clearing our air comes down to travel and transit is a powerful solution to air pollution. For example, in 2021, those who chose UTA instead of driving alone in a car produced a net savings of 258 tons of criteria pollutants across the Wasatch Front.”
By encouraging employees to participate, businesses can create a team to make an even bigger impact. The Clear the Air Challenge begins July 1.
How to Participate:
- Sign up on the Clear the Air Challenge website at cleartheairchallenge.org and enter your information to create an account.
- Challenge your friends and co-workers to participate as a team or individually.
- As a business owner or team manager, send out the challenge fact sheet available in the Startup Toolkit to your employees that explains what the challenge is and why you want them to participate.