The Urban Ecology and Sustainability Scholars group is making progress in the fight against air pollution with its Idle-Free Campus Ordinance.
The initiative encourages U community members to not idle their cars, and educates the public on car-related air pollution. The scholars are collaborating with the university’s facilities management to place 25 signs in idling hotspots around campus.
“Two minutes of idling equals one mile of driving, and those emissions add up,” said Olivia Juarez, leader of the idle-free project. Juarez believes the Utah law that prohibits citizens from idling longer than two minutes is highly inefficient — police have issued zero idling tickets since the law passed five years ago.
Studies on vehicular emissions show that idling is very fuel intensive, said Brenda Bowen, director of the Global Change and Sustainability Center. Eliminating air pollution is a top priority for Urban Ecology and Sustainability Scholars.
Myths behind idling are what help perpetuate the polluting act, Juarez said. One popular myth is that a car’s engine needs an ample amount of time to warm up. The scholars group deemed this myth false — it takes less than 30 seconds to warm up a diesel engine in even the harshest conditions.
Emilia Szubzda, a junior in sustainable tourism, believes the planet suffers greatly from these rumors.
“There are so many misconceptions when it comes to what’s ‘bad’ and ‘not even that bad’ for the environment,” Szubzda said. “People love to make assumptions if it’s more convenient for their lifestyle.”
Vehicle exhaust accounts for 50 percent of air pollution in Utah, individuals idling their cars being a major contribution to this percentage.
The idle-free initiative hopes to deliver their message through an unconventional mode — cookies. In collaboration with Dining Services, Urban Ecology and Sustainability Scholars will pass out “cAIR Packages.” Each bundle will include stickers containing an idle-free message, a cookie and an information slip.
“In order to make the needed improvements, we need to address the problem from all angles — promoting legislation and sustainable policies, and also taking action on an individual level,” Bowen said.
To pick up a cAIR Package or to volunteer to pass them out, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.