On the road to the future

Thirteen Dartmouth College students are on a cross-country trip on the 'Big Green Bus.' Their goal is to teach people about the importance of sustainability and they will be at the Charleston Farmer's Market from 8 a.m. to noon today.

What could you do with thousands of gallons of used vegetable oil? Travel 50,000 miles around the country in an energy-efficient bus, of course.

Thirteen Dartmouth College students started a 12,000-mile trip across the country last month in what they call the Big Green Bus to teach people about the importance of sustainability.

The students arrived in Charleston on Thursday night and will be here through today. They will be at the farmer’s market at Marion Square from 8 a.m. until noon, then head to Tampa, Fla.

The Big Green Bus has been on the road every summer since 2005 and was created by Dartmouth engineers. The bus, sponsored by Waste Management, is a 1998 coach and the interior was remodeled to look like a sustainable home.

“It’s exciting to sponsor a program that shows how even the largest vehicles can be environmentally sound,” said Russell Hightower, municipal and community relations manager for Waste Management in South Carolina.

The bus is equipped with rooftop solar panels, deep cycle batteries to store the electricity from the panels and grease filters to purify the vegetable oil they get from restaurants.

Logistics coordinator for the bus, Morgan Curtis a rising sophomore at Dartmouth, said the bus gets 2,000 miles of out 290 gallons of vegetable oil.

2011 Dartmouth graduate Nick Devonshire said that his favorite things about the bus are the demonstration that shows how much energy it takes to power different kinds of lightbulbs and the sustainability success stories people write on the bus.

“Going green can actually save you money,” Devonshire said.

After leaving Hanover, N.H., where the college is located, the team traveled to nine states and D.C. before arriving here. When they leave, they will travel to 13 more states before returning to New Hampshire on Sept 7.