Driving is a large issue in sustainability because it is a major contributor to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The Union of Concerned Scientists states that emissions from automobiles “account for nearly one-fifth of all U.S. emissions,” much of which comes directly from our cars’ tailpipes. The pollution caused by vehicles is all too relevant to us, considering that Salt Lake City is ranked as one of the top 10 cities for worst air quality in the nation, according to the American Lung Association.
But each individual can make a difference, which is why programs like the Clear the Air Challenge are so valuable. Your actions matter, and collectively, we can make an impact. Try out these five options to help reduce your vehicle’s contribution to poor air quality, and remember to log your efforts at www.travelwisetracker.com.
Five Alternatives to Driving Alone
- Carpool: Even though carpooling still uses a vehicle, the difference between having one car for one person and one car for multiple people is huge, especially when multiplied by many people over many days. A great resource for carpooling at the U is Zimride by Enterprise, which is a ride-matching platform for University faculty, staff, and students. Through Zimride, you can search for rides that others have posted to find a carpool or post a ride to connect with potential passengers. To access the University of Utah Zimride network, visit com/utah.
- Travel actively: For those who live closer to campus, active transportation is a great option for improving both the environment and personal health. Active transportation is any human-powered transportation, such as walking, biking, skateboarding, etc. Remember to follow the laws of the road and to be aware of other vehicles and pedestrians.
- Ride public transit: As someone who rides TRAX every day to and from campus, I know firsthand how well it works. Public transportation is fast, relatively simple, and is becoming more efficient every year. Students and employees at the U can also ride public transportation through UTA for free. All you have to do is tap-on with your U Card, and you’re good to go.
- Use multiple modes: Multimodal transportation, or using at least two different methods of transport, can be a good option for many commuters. For example, use active transportation like biking to reach a nearby bus or train stop or drive to a Park & Ride lot and hop on TRAX.
- Telework: If you find yourself in a situation with work or school where a meeting or objective can be accomplished online or over the phone, teleworking may be a great option to reduce your carbon footprint. Working from home can cut down on unnecessary trips, so check with classmates or supervisors to see if this is a viable option, especially on poor air quality days.
All of these options reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, benefit public health, reduce road traffic and parking congestion, and save people money. With advantages like that, who wouldn’t want to try them out?
Austin Holmes was a student sustainability ambassador for the University of Utah Sustainability Office.