Being Green(er) On The Road

by Laura Mitic (Carmanah)

On Carmanah's most recent cross-Canada tour, we clocked nearly 16,000 kms.  There’s no doubt that if you want to be a successful musician, you have to tour.  While it was a huge and exhausting mission, it was also so much fun.  We played for awesome venues of various sizes, met amazing people and truly enjoyed being on the road.  

In the past I had been somewhat apprehensive about doing large tours since I knew that they can have a massive environmental impact.  My bandmates and I discussed this before we left.  With our interest in protecting the environment, as well as our work with the Jellyfish Project, we wanted to make sure we were talking the talk as well as walking the walk...

So, we decided to take steps that would make our tour as environmentally friendly as possible.  Here are a few ways in which we did that:

1. We ran our vehicle on vegetable oil.  Pat decided to invest in all the necessary gear needed to convert his diesel truck into one that would run on used cooking oil from restaurants. We did over 60% of our tour running on vegetable oil, therefore greatly cutting down on our emissions.  Compared the petroleum diesel, vegetable oil burned as fuel produces 80% less carbon dioxide, 48% less carbon monoxide, 80% less cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, 48% less asthma-causing particulate matter and no sulphur dioxide (a main compound in diesel responsible for acid rain).  Additional emissions were avoided as well when you consider the diesel energy/fossil fuel outgo during extraction, processing and distribution involved in getting diesel to your fuel tank.  Check out this link to learn more.

2. We refused plastics.  To the best of our ability, we refused to-go containers and plastics.  Each of us had a water bottle that we were consistently filling up.  As well, if we did order to-go food, we used our own plates and cutlery.

3. We composted.  In our trailer, we had a compost bin so that all food scraps would end up directly back into the earth instead of adding it to the vast amounts of food waste that ends up in landfills.

4. We threw away zero food.  According to a CBC article, "$31 billion worth of food is wasted every year in Canada and when energy, water and other resource costs are factored in the true cost could be up to three times that much.” We opted out of being a part of this predicament and instead consumed all of our food.

5. We stayed clear of hotels and spent nights in our trailer or staying with friends.  Hotels contribute 60 million tons of CO2 emissions annually (plus, camping is cozy.)  Check out this website with some big stats on the carbon footprint of hotels and what can be done to make this industry cleaner. 

We still have a lot to learn about being as green as possible while on the road, but I’m stoked that we are off to a solid start.  

Obviously, not everyone is able to convert their vehicle over to vegetable oil.  However, there are still tons of little ways that you can make your next journey a little easier on the environment as well.  With summer time in full gusto, road trips with your friends and family are somewhat inevitable and lots of fun.  I invite you to make green choices while on the road  and would love to hear some of your ideas that might help Carmanah make our next tour that much cleaner as well! 

Happy adventuring,