Smog in Salt Lake City, Utah is putting Utahans in imminent danger. As the population increases with the Silicon Slopes tech movement, pollution from cars is escalating with heightened highway transit. As you can guess, the health effects of smog are ever-increasing as studies continue to prove the relationship between air pollution and disease. The reality is that air pollution will never diminish, but we’ve compiled an actionable list with multiple opportunities to offset some of the Utah smog caused by traffic.
Daily Activities To Do On Your Own
1. Skip the drive-thru and go inside; save 3-5 minutes of emissions.
Let’s face it when life gets busy, we find ourselves in the drive-thru. While opting for fast food does cut down on our prep, cook, and cleanup at home, it adds to our CO² emissions. Did you know that the average service in a drive-thru ranges from 3 minutes to 5 minutes? Imagine how quickly those emissions add up from one customer to the next. In fact, 5 minutes idling in the drive-thru line adds up to about ⅔ of a mile driven.
2. Cut out 1 round-trip per week – use public transit when you’re not in a hurry.
About 27% of commuters drive between 11 and 20 miles one-way to work. Drive to work Monday through Friday for a year and your car emissions for that daily 40-mile round-trip equals about 8 months of energy emissions for a home. Cutting out one 40-mile round-trip per week would be similar to cutting out 2 months of energy usage at home. So, work from home, take the train, or carpool with a coworker to start eliminating harmful emissions.
3. On vacation or going into the city? Take part in Uber/Lyft rideshare.
Uber and Lyft both offer rideshare options in major cities. When you split a ride, the app calculates a rate based on the distance shared and you save when compared to riding stag in a cab. The app will also calculate the best candidates for rideshare, meaning you will rarely travel out of your way to pick up another rider – this, in turn, saves car emissions. Lastly, without a car, you won’t have to worry about paying parking fees!
4. Have little to no time? Donate to an organization that has time to act.
Some forms of environmental advocacy and support take schedule coordination and event planning. There are numerous local organizations that actively push for public policy to be friendlier to renewable energy and clean air. Donations to groups like HEAL Utah and Utah Clean Energy go toward hiring experts, organizing events to put grassroots pressure on decision makers, and engaging in regulatory processes. These dollars don’t go unnoticed in local groups that don’t come with national funding budgets.
Activities To Do With A Team
5. Talk to your HR team to develop trip reduction (EBTR) strategies for your company.
Working with colleagues towards building an Employer-Based Trip Reduction program will create a quick, scale-able way to reduce the smog impacting your health. The easiest programs for most company structures to implement are remote work days, carpooling initiatives, public transit discount days, and on-site lunch trucks. You can work together to offer strategies of minimal impact for the company and your efforts can lead to greater emissions reductions. Interested in learning more? Plan to attend one of these webinars before engaging your HR team!
6. Plan a Plant-A-Tree initiative in your neighborhood.
It takes about 7-8 trees to offer enough oxygen to successfully sustain one human per year. That means that for about 7 billion humans to live an average 75-year life, we need roughly 4 trillion trees on the planet — we have 3 trillion! As neighborhoods grow and developments take over, we lose precious oxygen production from mature tree life, so the goal should be to take action and plant new growth where possible. By signing up with organizations like Volunteer Match or creating groups through Meetup or Facebook, you can quickly scale your group size and impact. And if you’re trying to convince neighborhood homeowners, let them know that well-maintained trees can increase property value by as much as 14% and can reduce air conditioning usage by about 30%. The small cost of the tree up front will yield much higher savings down the line – much like solar!
Overall, there are an unlimited number of ways to reduce emissions. It all starts with a single action, one conversation, or one commitment. Join us and start the discussion today about the importance of greener choices & expanding renewable energy resources.