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Awareness to Action

Whether you’ve had a direct experience with bad air, followed the air quality index on your phone, or formally learned about the importance of clean air, awareness can be a key driver for change. From outdoor enthusiasts to kids on a playground to respiratory-sensitive groups, many of us are at risk. But once we know how poor air quality can impact our health, what does it take to change our behaviors — either to reduce our exposure or how we contribute to it?


Ripple Effects

For the second year in a row, the Regional Transportation District, RTD, made ride fares free for everyone on public transportation during July and August, two of Colorado’s worst months for ozone formation. The goal was to get people out of their cars. In Denver, 75% of all daily trips are done by people in cars, as compared to walking, biking, or public transportation. Rethinking how we get from place to place is essential, which is why the push to get people out of gas-powered cars is on full throttle. In 2020, Colorado passed a rule requiring automakers to ensure 5% of their vehicles for sale were EVs by 2023. As we all become more conscious of the far-reaching impacts of emissions on our health, the economy, and the environment, we can no longer maintain the status quo.

“We don’t have to be perfect, but we have to be better.”

Transitioning from awareness to concrete action can pose a formidable hurdle. But when it comes to changing our minds or behavior, small things can add up. Whether it’s swapping your gas lawn mower for an electric one or heeding highway signs to refuel after five, there are many ways to avoid contributing ozone-causing emissions to the atmosphere. And while there are always tradeoffs, this moment of societal change must eventually create a profound shift in our individual and collective actions.

Dan King, Entrepreneur and athlete
Brett Champion, Science Teacher, Prep Academy
Ephraim Milton, Outreach and Education Coordinator, Love My Air at the Department of Public Health & Environment
Bonnie Trowbridge, Executive Director, Drive Clean Colorado
Michael Silverstein, Executive Director, Regional Air Quality Council

Further Reading

"Climate change and human behavior,” Nature, November 16, 2022. 

“Love My Air,”

“RTD reports a 10% year-over-year increase in boardings during Zero Fare For Better Air,” RTD, October 20, 2023.

“How green are Electric Vehicles?,” The New York Times, Published March 2, 2021, Updated June 23, 2023.  

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