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Green touring

Old 05-07-13, 07:03 PM
  #1  
BROOKLINEBIKER
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Green touring

Hi all,
This rider's project strikes me as a great thing to do:
  • cycling coast-to-coast across the U.S.
  • only using electricity that is gained through alternate energy sources such as solar or that which is generated while he is pedaling his bike.
  • only using natural water sources
  • creating almost zero trash along the way.
  • eating only locally sourced, organic foods,
  • composting all of his food waste products
  • shopping only at businesses that show a commitment toward creating a healthy planet.
See http://blog.greenfieldadventures.org/2013/04/

I think the concept here is great. When touring, I would love to eat only organic foods, rely solely on a solar charger or hub charger to keep my bike lights, iPhone and Airbook charged, compost on the road, etc. It seems like this is potentially an inexpensive way to tour too. I have not toured but aspire to do so. Do experienced riders think this is doable? Have others tried this?
Best,
Neil
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Old 05-07-13, 07:24 PM
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On my recent tour of the Big Bend area, I only saw one water source that actually had water in it. That was the Rio Grande and I can't say that I would have felt good drinking from its stagnant pools. In addition, everyone said the local water had too many minerals in it for healthy long-term use.

If I had to choose between eating enough food and only eating organic, locally sourced food, I'd choose enough food everytime.

I have not ridden coast to coast and try to do the "right thing" environmentally when I ride, but , for me, bike touring is physically demanding enough that I have to make sure my body gets what it needs first and foremost.

Like you, I salute the rider's idealism and commitment to his beliefs. But, in my experience there are large sections of the country where organic, locally sourced food is going to be hard to come by. As for only drinking from a "natural" water source, this seems like dangerous folly and maybe illegal in some jurisdictions. Will he refuse help offered by road angels that don't meet his criteria?
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Old 05-07-13, 07:25 PM
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On first blush, I'd think that this would be very difficult to do. But I saw his reason for why he's doing it:

"Why?

To demonstrate that it is possible to live more sustainably and inspire others to decrease their impact on the environment.
And for fun of course." (emphasis mine)

After reading that I thought that maybe I dismissed it too quickly. Maybe it is easier than I initially thought. I'll certainly follow his blog to see how he makes out.
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Old 05-07-13, 09:28 PM
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I think it is great that he doing a tour like that. If by water from natural sources he mean rivers, streams, ponds, etc., he is surely using some kind of filtration device. US rivers and streams have become far too polluted to drink from. On the other hand, tap water is generally from natural sources. Perhaps he just means he won't be buying bottled water and contributing to trashing the environment in all the ways bottled water does.
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Old 05-07-13, 10:27 PM
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BROOKLINEBIKER, My hat's off to the rider, but it's going to be tough to stay with the intent of the ride, IMHO. Bullet points 3, 5 and 7 are going to be difficult as a visitor to an area.

Brad
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Old 05-08-13, 05:35 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
BROOKLINEBIKER, My hat's off to the rider, but it's going to be tough to stay with the intent of the ride, IMHO. Bullet points 3, 5 and 7 are going to be difficult as a visitor to an area.
+1. How would you verify that Joe's Family Market in Podunk, KS has shown a commitment to a healthy planet? If it hasn't and it's the only food source, $20 says he'll shop there rather than so hungry.
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Old 05-08-13, 08:11 AM
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I have not ridden his planned route, but plenty of places where I have ridden on the TA, ST, SC, and other rides his requirements would mean carrying food a long ways due to the VERY limited places to shop.

Natural water sources? Depending on how he defines that it could be a real problem in some arid areas.

I probably won't bother to follow his progress, but it might be interesting to see how he deals with this.
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Old 05-08-13, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by BROOKLINEBIKER View Post
[*]only using natural water sources
[*]eating only locally sourced, organic foods, [*]composting all of his food waste products [*]shopping only at businesses that show a commitment toward creating a healthy planet.[/LIST]


What the hell is a "natural water source"? All water is "natural" no matter where you go on the planet. If he means "local" water sources, good luck on that one. He won't be able to drink water in many, many places in the west. The Colorado Front Range, for example, moves lots and lots of water "unnaturally" across the Continental Divide. And the only "natural" water source around Salt Lake City is, well, salty. On the other hand, "natural" water sources that come from wells have their own problems since the water takes energy to get out of the ground and depression of the water table is a serious issue in many parts of the arid west.

The rest of the list is just silliness. Is he going to carry something for 'composting his food wastes"? What about growing seasons? It'd be pretty hard to find anything that is growing in Colorado right now and probably until mid-July, if he could even find "locally sourced, organic food"

Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I have not ridden his planned route, but plenty of places where I have ridden on the TA, ST, SC, and other rides his requirements would mean carrying food a long ways due to the VERY limited places to shop.

Natural water sources? Depending on how he defines that it could be a real problem in some arid areas.

I probably won't bother to follow his progress, but it might be interesting to see how he deals with this.
I agree fully. And some of the "natural" water sources that he can find are simply unpalatable.

We get brownie points for vacationing without a car, why do people feel the need to go silly and worry about how "green" a bike is?
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Old 05-08-13, 01:31 PM
  #9  
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My version of "green" touring: Always use cash, no plastic

He's a silly goose if he thinks he can maintain that format in areas that we often tour but best of luck to him and hope he can still enjoy the ride even if he has to deviate from his goals slightly.
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Old 05-08-13, 10:48 PM
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The ultimate green touring would be not to use an ipod, computer, etc..... All water is natural, I'm assuming the OP means he won't be using plastic "natural" water. And does this rule out no ice or refrigerated water (considering ice takes electricity to make and resources to store). Also the guy appears to have no problem using electricity when it suits him, like standing behind a microphone or using someone's computer like he blogged about so #2 is already shot out the window.
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Old 05-09-13, 04:22 AM
  #11  
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Nice concept...

I compost my apple cores when I ride by tossing them into the woods along the road...

Rather than solar he needs to get a generator hub to power his stuff. FWIW I am sure the environmental cost to produce his iPad and iPhone won't be offset by the other things he is doing...

I have yet to see water from any unnatural source...

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Old 05-09-13, 04:43 AM
  #12  
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Aaron, Some interesting points which could be taken even further. How much non renewable energy was expended in the manufacture of the bicycle (tubing, paint, all the bits and bobs attached and etc.)? Or his clothes?

The only way I see bicycle touring being more Earth friendly than a motorcycle or auto is due to no hydrocarbons (okay some from the rider at times) are produced. I seriously wonder if my practice of recycling and purchasing recycled items will not be more Earth friendly within the time span of his ride.

Brad
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Old 05-09-13, 05:45 AM
  #13  
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I think you'll draw more energy from solar power depending on the time of year. It can be used on and off bike. Its a neat concept really for solar power.
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Old 05-09-13, 07:28 AM
  #14  
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Relevant article in NY Times about using web resources to locate sources of locally produced food: http://nyti.ms/18TNl3i
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Old 05-09-13, 07:53 AM
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It cracks me up when some starry eyed youth plans on being an example on a bicycle. No one will care when they hear about it other than other tree huggers or cyclists.

Now if he was driving across the country in a monster truck with nitros and pulling a twenty foot trailer it might work. Add a few solar panels and claim to be eating nothing but naturally grown rutabaga and other hippy kibble, and the average joe would think it was pretty frocken neat.

Growing up in a town filled with the flower children who did not quite have what it took to sell out and become investment bankers was total aversion therapy to stupid stunts and "green" lip service like this. I wonder how toxic the adhesives used on that bamboo frame were.

Don't get me wrong, recycle reduce and reuse, all that, but if you want to make a difference, and you really think it matters, get a degree in environmental science and a PHD in chemistry or whatnot, learn to wear a suit and be taken seriously by people who can make more of a difference than a bunch of other earth children with no hygene. You can still eat well and advocate for sustainability or whatever, it just might not be as self indulgent and fun.
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Old 05-09-13, 10:16 AM
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It's humorous that a group of touring cyclists that "mainstream" people think are whackos is calling a touring cyclist a whacko. That happens in every group--nerdy office workers point out the extreme nerd in their bunch, firefighters have the one crew member who takes it more seriously than the others, etc.

I relate to the guy's message. I also pass up bottled water offered to me when a tap is nearby and I can refill my reusable bottles. I do my best with food, paying more for a local green salad at a cafe rather than a packaged item at C-store. I'm not going to pass up a shower with water heated by electricity (but I might take a "navy shower" if fuel is scarce). Trips like his and people like him raised my consciousness to some issues that I really care about now. It's minor stuff, but what does it hurt? And it is so hard not to be hypocritical.

I'm reminded of an RVer I know who, when buying a new Class A RV, specified LED interior lights "to be more energy efficient". Talk about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
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Old 05-09-13, 12:15 PM
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Andrew, I can relate to his message, which really doesn't include a 'new' Earth friendly idea, and his well intended delivery method. The blog will mainly read by people rooting him on and essentially he is preaching to the choir. Change can start at the bottom through awareness, but implementing that change comes from the top. There is often a sizable time gap between the two stages which is only shortened when somebody discovers a way to profit from the change.

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Old 05-09-13, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
Aaron, Some interesting points which could be taken even further. How much non renewable energy was expended in the manufacture of the bicycle (tubing, paint, all the bits and bobs attached and etc.)? Or his clothes?

The only way I see bicycle touring being more Earth friendly than a motorcycle or auto is due to no hydrocarbons (okay some from the rider at times) are produced. I seriously wonder if my practice of recycling and purchasing recycled items will not be more Earth friendly within the time span of his ride.

Brad
A single bicycle is probably a blip in the energy stream compared to a lot of other things. Especially if it is an older bike. My newest "touring bike" is a 1989, many of my bikes are much older. I would think that the materials and energy consumed in making a single bike is probably equivalent to the same amount to make a single wheel for one of the millions of cars that are on the road.

As to the comment on solar, many people have used solar with mixed to poor results. With a dyno hub as long as the wheels are turning the power will be generated. Solar panels are finicky and need proper orientation for maximum output. Rain, overcast or shade don't help the situation much.

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Old 05-09-13, 08:50 PM
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I actually read his blog. He's riding a bike with a bamboo frame, but the point still holds for the rest of the components.

Also, his commitment is not to BUY any non-local foods (he's also stretching that a bit to buy avocados in northern California), but also doing considerable dumpster-diving. Anything he finds in the dumpster falls outside his restrictions. Sort of a loophole there...

I also get the impression he's soaping up and bathing with Dr. Bronner's soap in the wonderful streams and lakes he passes. Nice, dude...take a shower away from other people's and wildlife's water source, please.

"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"_krazygluon
Uh, yeah. Logic flaw here. non sequiter. Try

"Fire: nearly 300,000 years of technological development.
LED's: just a few decades."

So that's why I use a flaming tree branch stuck in my handlebars instead of some stupid 1000 lumen LED light.

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Old 05-10-13, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
I actually read his blog. He's riding a bike with a bamboo frame, but the point still holds for the rest of the components.

Also, his commitment is not to BUY any non-local foods (he's also stretching that a bit to buy avocados in northern California), but also doing considerable dumpster-diving. Anything he finds in the dumpster falls outside his restrictions. Sort of a loophole there...

I also get the impression he's soaping up and bathing with Dr. Bronner's soap in the wonderful streams and lakes he passes. Nice, dude...take a shower away from other people's and wildlife's water source, please.



Uh, yeah. Logic flaw here. non sequiter. Try

"Fire: nearly 300,000 years of technological development.
LED's: just a few decades."

So that's why I use a flaming tree branch stuck in my handlebars instead of some stupid 1000 lumen LED light.
I have candles and carbides lights...

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Old 05-10-13, 05:13 AM
  #21  
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Speaking from personal experience living off the grid, it is quite hard work living a true, low-impact lifestyle.

A tour using a bicycle as the only transport mode apart from walking is a start. Choosing a route that avoids cold to minimise the need for consuming energy on warmth is another. Perhaps using wool as a primary clothing fabric is yet another.

The question of personal hygiene is an interesting one, and as pointed out by another poster, washing in rivers or dams/ponds is not good form (neither is throwing apple core on the roadside). Washing in public bathrooms and using restrooms mean the effluent can be properly broken down and treated before being returned to the wider environment.

Using no-cook eating methods would have to be on the agenda so there is no fuel consumption, and camping, too is essential.

I think most self-sufficient bicycle tourists are engaged in this sort of lifestyle even if they don't realise it. Some are more ascetic than others... and frankly, I think the real benefit of the lofty ideals is in the monetary saving it affords the person doing the tour rather than any significant reduction in their environmental impact.
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Old 05-10-13, 05:57 AM
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Pray tell, what's wrong with tossing an apple core into the woods?
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Old 05-10-13, 06:40 AM
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I'm convinced that one person's resource usage is pretty meaningless in grand scheme of things. Sure it feels good to think we're making a difference with our consumption choices but the reality is that for every bit of gasoline I don't burn or meat I don't eat there are many others that would pay gladly for those things since they are all going to be scarce resources in the future. I would even go so far as to say that people in developing countries have as much right to trash the planet as we did developing our economies. The time that "living green" would have helped was 40 years ago.

Actually the more I read over his site it looks like he's flown all over the globe in an "attempt to bring to an end my dependence on other humans" or something like that... which strikes me as particularly self-centered since doing so requires absolute dependence on hundreds of other people from the pilots to the people that mine aluminum to make the planes, consuming heaps of other resources, etc.

I don't see anything here other than nebulous claims and "feel good" type self-promotion. "Rob is here to help the planet" whatever that is supposed to mean... Oh I found a good one, check out the "doing good" category, in particular I am captivated by straw pledge; I never knew plastic straws were such a scourge... imagine how many straws you could make with all the resources this "captain planet" used to fly around the world. Why do so many people that preach "save the planet" feel the need to fly so much all the while slamming folks for driving and "living a normal life"? The dissonance makes it hard for me to appreciate anything these types of folks do... good on the guy for cleaning up garbage locally and giving away bicycles but beyond that he seems kind of deluded and a wee bit arrogant. The rest of the world has to go to work so fools like this have airports to fly in and out of, roads to ride on, stores to stop at, etc.
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Old 05-10-13, 08:42 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by lenA View Post
Pray tell, what's wrong with tossing an apple core into the woods?
You do understand what the main purpose of fruit is don't you? And it's role in the spread of invasive species?
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Old 05-10-13, 10:11 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post

Using no-cook eating methods would have to be on the agenda so there is no fuel consumption
Don't you think that would be difficult if only eating locally grown fruits, veggies and animals. Eating raw meat can be dangerous and not cooking some veggies won't allow for absorption of nutrients and even if you could continually find locally grown fruits which I don't think you could, that would have to get old. You're burning a lot of calories riding all day, tough to replace and so I'm betting a closer inspection of his panniers would reveal a bunch of Ho-Ho's and Twinkies. Ha

And I should be so unlucky as to have invasive apple trees growing in my woods.
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