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The Coalition for Clean Air, working with numerous state and local organizations, is sponsoring its annual California Clean Air Day on Wednesday, and urges Californians to participate.

While it could be easy to be very cynical about focusing on clean air for a single day, the organization works on clean air policy all year long. Clean Air Day is an annual opportunity to raise awareness, and to harness the energy of individuals to help with what is a mammoth enterprise.

First and foremost, the Coalition for Clean Air is asking individuals and organizations to pledge to take action that helps clean up California's air, and provides a list of recommended actions, large and small. Last year, over 1.3 million Californians pledged individual and collective action on Clean Air Day.

Actions do not include buying "carbon offsets" - or paying someone else to reduce emissions so as to avoid making any personal changes. This blog post from the CCA explains why direct actions - even simple ones like switching cleaning products - can be more efficacious than buying offsets.

"We’d like to encourage anyone thinking about [paying for offsets] to instead donate to local environmental, public health, or environmental justice nonprofit organizations," writes the CCA. "You might also think about your bank’s role in climate change and whether it’s time to change." Direct and immediate action is needed, not kicking the can down the road by buying offsets; in addition, offsets don't help with local air quality, and they are complicated, controversial, and possibly useless.

Of course, actions that reduce your transportation emissions - like walking or biking instead of driving for some of your trips - are things to take up as a habit, not just pledge to do for one day.

To help with getting started on that, many transit agencies throughout the state are offering free transit trips. If you don't see your local agency on this list, check with them to be sure - and if they're not offering free rides, ask them why not.

Local and virtual events will take place on Wednesday and the following days (see this calendar), including celebrations, community bike rides, neighborhood and shoreline cleanups, and free trees to plant. The Clean Air Coalition urges people to create their own event to help move the needle forward and raise awareness.

Clean Air Day snapchat filter
Fun with Snapchat, sort of

Clean Air Day also offers lots of opportunities to learn more. For example, the South Coast AQMD will host a discussion about how it is working with the California Air Resources Board on a community air monitoring program, and how places can join the program.

Move LA is also sponsoring a discussion on Friday at 11 a.m. about how California is moving to help people reduce driving and emissions.

Oh, and there's a Clean Air Day Snapchat filter. You know you want that.

Interestingly, missing from the long list of participating organizations are a few California-based firms in the oil and gas industry, including Chevron, Texaco, Atlantic Richfield, Pedevco, Pinnacle Petroleum.

Maybe a pledge is just too much for some.

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