Vineyard Mayor Julie Fullmer, UTA and UVU leadership talk clean air

A student-run campaign encourages all to pledge to ride public transportation this holiday season as their first step in contributing their part in helping reduce Utah’s poor air quality and climate change.

Photo by Josh Green

On Wednesday morning a group of Public Relations students from Utah Valley University held a press conference about their “Give the Gift of Clean Air” campaign. A campaign to bring awareness to  Utah’s poor air quality and what can be done to combat it.. 

Two years ago, Salt Lake City ranked fifth among cities for worst air quality in the world according to abc4.com. Your Utah, Your Future found that cars and trucks make up 55% of Salt Lake’s winter emissions. With UVU being a commuter school, hundreds of students drive to school from various parts of the valley every day, but students in UVU’s PR campaign wanted commuters to know that driving isn’t the only option.

Research done by the campaign found that many students are unaware that they have free access to public transportation. As part of a partnership between UVU and the Utah Transit Authority, when enrolled in one credit hour students and their spouses/dependents can ride all UTA public transit for free. A UVUID can be used as a transit pass for all UVX buses, the Frontrunner and TRAX.

“I grew up in Salt Lake City and was regularly hospitalized during the winter months. One week, I was in the ER every day and the staff knew my name. Air quality has a direct impact on my health and life,” said Caitlyn Bennett, A UVU student and one of the co-creators of the Give the Gift of Clean Air Campaign, who opened the conference with her experiences of the polluted winter seasons here in Salt Lake and Utah Valley. “When you try to keep our air clean, you are giving the gift of a healthier life to people like me.”

“Caitlyn’s story is one that has moved air quality into the top five efforts for the state to work on,” added Julie Fullmer, mayor of Vineyard, Utah. “It takes individuals that are willing to take that pledge and make a difference. I personally will be taking this pledge with you today.” 

The objective of the campaign is to gather everyone willing to pledge to taking a ride on UTA this holiday season and to start doing their part in containing Utah’s poor air quality and climate change, along with spreading awareness. Out of everything talked about by speakers at the event, the bottom line was that Utah’s poor air quality affects everyone living in the state, especially those with underlying health conditions.

“If we each continue to say that our actions won’t make a difference, then nothing will change,” said Kiersten Thomson, a UVU student and co-creator of the Give the Gift of Clean air campaign. “If we each choose to start with small actionable steps our collective choices can make a big impact leading to a healthier climate in Utah.”

You can pledge to take a ride on UTA this holiday season and give the gift of clean air at the UVU Sustainability website to help our community and enter a drawing for four tickets to Luminara before Dec. 2. 
Watch the entire press conference on Instagram @sustainability.uvu.

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