Missoula in Motion Launches January Clear the Air Challenge

The Missoula Valley’s winter inversion is back, trapping C02 emissions from vehicles and smoke from woodstoves in the beautiful Missoula valley. Inversions trap a dense layer of cold air under a layer of warm air, acting like a lid that prevents pollutants from rising and keeping them in the cold air near the valley floor — the air that we breathe. To mitigate the negative effects of this geographic and meteorological phenomenon, Missoula In Motion has launched the second annual Clear the Air Challenge. For the month of January, Missoula In Motion will challenge citizens to reduce the amount of C02 they emit into the air by trying to limit their solo driving trips.

Vehicle emissions and road dust account for a significant portion of all air pollution in Missoula. By simply choosing a different way of getting around, we can make a big difference in our community. Taking the bus, walking or carpooling can take a little more coordination in the short term, but once the habit is formed, commuters will experience more pleasant trips, financial savings, less wear and tear on their vehicles, increased physical activity and a smaller impact on the environment.

“Encouraging community members to take the Clear Air Challenge this January will no doubt give a huge boost to efforts to reduce our collective carbon footprint,” said Amy Cilimburg, executive director of Climate Smart Missoula. “Transportation, both here in Missoula and across the country, is the sector that contributes the most to greenhouse gas emissions. Yet here’s an opportunity to commit to trying something different this month — from jumping on the bus to walking to finally getting studded bicycle tires. The results can be cleaner air, healthier commuters and the good feeling that comes from being part of climatesolutions.”

In addition to choosing an alternate mode of transportation, Missoula In Motion is asking drivers to limit the time they spend idling their vehicles. According to  Sustainable America, two minutes of idling is equivalent to one mile of driving, and average American drivers spend more than 16 minutes a day idling their vehicles. The challenge asks Missoulians to consider how often they idle their vehicles and challenges them to reduce that time.

Participants can sign up for the challenge at  www.MissoulaInMotion.com/cleartheair. Participants will be able to use the Way To Go! Missoula tool to find their commute options, see how much money they’re saving, how much C02 they’re diverting and how many calories they’re burning. Challenge participants will be able to monitor a challenge leaderboard to see which transportation choices prevent the most CO2 from entering our air. Individuals who divert the most C02 from the atmosphere will win $50 gift cards. Other prizes will be raffled off among all participants.

Missoula In Motion understands that winter weather creates many barriers to sustainable commuting, but we encourage everybody to do what they can when they can – and have some fun and enjoy a little competition.