‘Vehicle for inspiration’ bus to roll into Tucson Friday

Recycled Greyhound spreading message of sustainability (Photo courtesy of The Big Green Bus).

BY CECELIA MARSHALL for the ARIZONA DAILY STAR

What is big, green, smells like french fries and rolls down the road with not a drop of gas in it?

A recycled Greyhound bus juiced by waste vegetable.

The Big Green Bus will roll into Tucson this weekend as part of a cross-country tour to promote awareness of sustainability, environmental issues and community involvement.

Beginning Friday, team members will lead hands-on workshops, give tours of the bus and visit the Tucson Village Farm, 4210 N. Campbell Ave., from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

On Saturday, the bus will be parked downtown at the farmers market at Maynards Market from 8 a.m. to noon, shelling out sustainable tips and tricks and talking about people’s role in the environment.

Ten Dartmouth College students boarded the recycled Greyhound bus in June and will call it home for the rest of the summer. Traveling more than 12,000 miles through 30 states, the epic road trip is about engaging the public in a “vehicle for inspiration.”

“We live in a comfy status quo in which the resources we consume feel limitless and benign, from food on the supermarket shelves to gasoline at the pump,” said Alex Morenz, a member of the bus and a Tucson native.

“I am excited to shake up the status quo with the Big Green Bus this summer and start the discussion and action about improving our local and global communities to keep both ourselves and our environment healthy and happy,” she said.

Morenz has been away from Tucson for the past three years while at Dartmouth. Since then, she has noticed Tucson has more grassroots awareness about environmental issues, new farmers markets and local businesses and restaurants that have turned to buying and producing more locally.

Morenz wants to showcase Tucson’s improvement when it comes to sustainability.

“I have always been interested in sustainability,” she said. “Growing up in Tucson, environmental issues here are very apparent,” she said, like those involving water resources. “We live linearly with finite resources and this is causing a lot of harm to ourselves and our natural resources.”

Morenz said she has loved getting to see the different parts of the country and talking with people about these environmental issues.

After meeting with politicians in Washington, D.C., in June, Morenz said she realizes policy changes aren’t always effective. Change comes from the bottom and not the top, she said.

“The bus brings people to connect with you that you would never have met otherwise.”

The program began in 2005 when a Dartmouth Frisbee team wanted to travel to a tournament in California but wanted to do so in a low carbon emission, sustainable way. For the past eight years, Greyhound buses that are nearing the end of their life have been converted to run on waste-vegetable oil and contain a recycling and compost station as well as solar-powered appliances. Even the floor and tabletops are made from either sustainable plywood or recycled glass and concrete.

“Sustainability is not just about the environment or polar bears. But it is with people,” Morenz said.

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