07 June 2010
Sustainable Woodstock Brings Big Green Bus to Town
Photo: The Big Green Bus and its crew of Dartmouth undergrads will kick off their summer-long cross-country tour with a visit to the Woodstock Green on Thursday, June 17, from noon to 3 PM. Powered by recycled vegetable oil, the bus is a mobile science fair that welcomes visitors into its sustainably rebuilt interior to explore its interactive displays. [Photo credit: The Big Green Bus.]
by Christopher Bartlett
Those of us who thought that fast food restaurants had little to contribute to our society may have to think again. In a most unexpected way, this summer many of them will be helping spread a message to communities across the country about living more sustainably.
Sound far-fetched? Not when you understand that the Big Green Bus , a self-styled "Vehicle for Change" operated by 12 Dartmouth undergraduates, will be traveling 13,000 miles in 2 1/2 months powered by 1,300 gallons of recycled waste vegetable oil obtained from restaurants located on their cross-country route.
If this sounds like a road trip adventure that would be worth checking out, you're in luck. Sustainable Woodstock has invited the Big Green Bus to hold the curtain raiser for its summer long cross-country journey on the Green in Woodstock on Thursday, June 17.
Set up as a mobile science fair, the completely rebuilt 20 year old MCI coach is actually powered by three different renewable energy sources. In addition to a modified engine that can operate on post-French fry vegetable oil, the bus has four solar panels on its roof connected to ten storage batteries. These can store sufficient power to serve the onboard air conditioner, refrigerator, lighting, television, and computers for at least two days.
But it is the third source of renewable energy that is most impressive. This is energy in the form of the boundless enthusiasm exhibited by the 12 highly motivated Dartmouth College undergraduates who will spend their summer traveling around the country with the bus. Most are majoring in some aspect of environmental studies, and throughout the tour they will engage people in discussions about how they can change simple things in their lives to live more sustainably.
"We look forward to coming to Woodstock and inviting people to see the really cool things we have on the bus," said Becky Niemiec, an environmental science major from Los Angeles. "We'll show them our refrigerator that operates on the same amount of power as a laptop, our countertops made of recycled glass, and the bus floors and cabinets made of sustainably harvested bamboo. And our interactive touchscreen displays on energy, food, and transportation will show them lots of ways of living more sustainably."
The 2 1/2 month cross-country itinerary kicks off the day after the Big Green Bus visits Woodstock. During that tour, the students will make 40 educational stops in towns and cities as far south as Florida and Texas, as far west as California and Washington, and as far north as Idaho and Michigan.
In addition to engaging with local residents in communities across the country, the students will also be doing some political lobbying. In Washington DC, they will park on Capitol Hill and invite senators and congressmen to tour the bus where they hope to engage them in discussions the new energy bill. And in several of the states they travel through, they have set up meetings with assembly members and city counselors to lobby on sustainability issues.
The bus will be parked outside the Norman Williams Public Library on Thursday, June 17 from noon to 3 PM. During the visit, Sustainable Woodstock, the organizer of the event, has arranged food, music, and interesting community engagement for all.