The air outside is frightful

Rebecca Baggett

February marks the start of Weber’s month-long Clear the Air Challenge. The primary goal of this event is to reduce emissions and improve air quality.

The Clear the Air Initiative is a statewide effort toward better air quality. (Weber State University)
The Clear the Air Challenge is a statewide effort toward better air quality. Photo credit: Weber State University

The statewide Clear the Air initiative has been moved to July, but Weber State is holding their own challenge in February.

“Poor air quality is a year-round issue for us. Ozone in summer, and of course, the inversion in winter,” Analeah Vaughn, WSU sustainability coordinator and Green Department Program manager, said. “But for us, no one is really here in July, and I think it’s so important to get people the knowledge and tools they need to make better choices, or at least know the choices they have that they can utilize throughout the year.”

Although the statewide official challenge has been delayed until July, there is at least one major state-level climate-conscious event happening in February.

The Utah Transit Authority announced on Jan. 25 it would offer free fare for the entire month of February in an effort to encourage the use of public transportation to improve air quality.

The statewide official challenge has been delayed until July, however, there are still many options for students to do their part in clearing the air. (Weber State University)
The statewide official challenge has been delayed until July; however, there are still many options for students to do their part in clearing the air. Photo credit: Weber State University

In March 2020, UTA celebrated 50 years of operation. Compared to other states, Utah’s public transit system is relatively new. The development and usage of public transportation is cited by many organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as a key component of air quality improvement.

WSU’s 2022 Clear the Air Challenge invites students to track their travel by using the website travelwisetracker.com. Travelwise allows participants to keep track of their carpooling, public transit usage, active transportation such as cycling, condensing the number of trips and more.

Participants can be entered to win prizes by tracking their trips on Travelwise, and the weekly drawing will happen on Fridays at 4 p.m.

The Clear the Air Challenge also spurs competition amongst the colleges.

“We’re going to continue doing an internal Clear the Air Challenge every February, and with that, we will have the six university divisions competing with students as well as some college competition,” Vaughn said.

A traveling trophy is awarded to the winning college, with the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences as the current reigning champions.

In the month of February, the Utah
During the month of February, the Utah Transit Authority is allowing passengers to utilize all services for free to do their part in helping people make strong efforts in bettering Utah's air quality. Photo credit: Weber State University