By Emerson Andrews, University of Utah Sustainability Office
When you look west from the University of Utah, a thick, brown haze hangs over Salt Lake City. With each breath you take, you breathe in pollution.
Because of this common experience, Warren Beecroft, a student in the Environmental & Sustainability Studies Program, decided to take action and help his community breathe cleaner during unhealthy air days.
During the fall semester, Beecroft worked to secure $11,900 from the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund to purchase 1,000, University of Utah-branded reusable filtration masks from Vogmask. The masks provide two benefits. The first is that the mask will protect you from breathing in toxic air. The second is by wearing the mask, you make a visible statement that the air in Salt Lake City is not safe.
“This program sets out to address an issue that has, in the past, brought about a fair amount of discussion, but limited action,” said Beecroft. “The masks are important to the campus community because they might serve as a catalyst in bringing about more concrete long-term solutions to our state’s pollution problem.”
The program works in tandem with other university efforts regarding air quality, such as the Air Quality Task Force Report, the Program for Air Quality, the Clean Air for U Challenge and the Air Quality Monitoring Center.
This program aims to protect the university community while encouraging active transportation by offering these masks at an 83-percent discount off the retailer’s price during spring semester.
To purchase a mask all you need is $5, your uNID number and the commitment to take alternative forms of transportation. Limit one mask per uNID. The masks will be available for purchase in the Sustainability Office (Business Classroom Building, room 50) on Mondays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and Fridays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
“One of the most direct contributions an individual can make in reducing their personal contribution to air pollution is transitioning to active transportation methods such as biking or walking,” said Beecroft.