Breakfast with Senator Whitehouse and Utah Moms for Clean Air
I totally feel like a poser even writing this. I’m just an average person. I even drank water out of a plastic disposable bottle this past week. I drive my car to work. In a lot of ways I see myself as a hypocrite. And honestly the environmental activism world is totally intimidating to me.
But we all have to start somewhere.
For me, it started in November of 2014 when the Salt Lake Valley began filling up with it’s typical winter inversion induced smog. I was pregnant. My gynecologist advised me to keep myself updated on the air quality in the valley, and to stay inside on days that the particulate matter in the air were high.
Up until that point, I never paid as much attention to my health in relation to the air quality as I should. Like everybody else in Salt Lake City, I griped about the air quality. I attended a few protests at the capitol, helped with social media efforts to increase awareness, and signed a few petitions. But honestly, I still went out and ran with Ollie almost every day. Devil be damned.
But there I was, 8 months pregnant, with anxiety/ bladder pressure/ acid reflux induced insomnia, reading article after article about the damaging effects of bad air quality on developing children. I work in a developmental biology lab after all! Here I am, cutting diet coke out of my diet for my developing baby, but equivocally smoking cigarettes by breathing the air in Salt Lake City.
For me, that’s when it started.
At Huck’s first checkup, his pediatrician advised me to keep him inside until the inversion cleared and the air quality improved (until April). Or to take him up to the mountains above the inversion.
Huck’s first hike in the Wasatch mountains was at four days old on a snowy trail. I loved seeing Huck’s cheeks turn rosy from the crisp mountain air and his eyes squint from the sunlight reflecting off the sparkly snow. As I drove my new baby down the canyon, I remember my heart sinking as we drove below the thick, dark layer of inversion. Back to our home.
Caring for my little boy makes me care about the environment I am raising him in on a personal level. I always kind of cared, mostly from a logistical viewpoint, but this made it personal. More than personal. It is an issue involving my little boy’s health and his experience in life.
Children wear respiration masks on bad air quality days in Salt Lake City. They don’t play outside. We require our children to make these changes because the alternative is risking their health. I am not okay telling Huck he has to choose between wearing a respiration mask and staying inside or compromising his health. That can’t be the only change we are making as a society.
When Utah Moms for Clean Air met with Senator Whitehouse I wanted a seat at the table (literally, the breakfast table). I want change. I want my voice heard. I want to learn how I can most effectively contribute towards positive movement.