Dartmouth’s Big Green Bus Ready for Sixth-Annual Cross-Country Educational Tour


Listen to the podcast: The 2010 Big Green Bus trip

With the slogan “Vehicle for Change,” the Big Green Bus is back this summer for its sixth-annual cross-country tour. Twelve Dartmouth College students will again take up the environmental mantle in a 1989 MCI coach with an engine modified to run on waste vegetable oil to promote alternative fuel and sustainable living.

The tour departs from Hanover, N.H. early on the morning of June 18, stopping in several locations between the East and West Coasts, and returning to New Hampshire by the end of August. To see a tour schedule and meet the 2010 crew, visit www.thebiggreenbus.org, and follow the Big Green Bus on Facebook and Twitter. Corporate sponsors of the 2010 tour include Waste Management, EcoDirect, IceStone, act2 GreenSmart, Clif Bar, Arava Institute, Boloco, Burt’s Bees, and L.L.Bean.

The 2010 student crew of the Big Green Bus, from left: Rebecca M. Niemiec ’13, Benjamin J. Paly ’11, Elizabeth M. Dain-Owens ’10, Esop Baek ’13, Ann Elise DeBelina ’10, David L. Peterson ’10, Emily L. Pizzichemi ’10, Brandon F. Cohen ’11, Emily Mason-Osann ’11, Andrew Ching ’10, Olivia R. Kent ’13, Robert J. Collier ’13 (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

“We hope to create a network of people across the country to help find ways to create tangible solutions to the complex environmental issues we face today, both as individuals and as communities,” says Betsy Dain-Owens, a member of the Dartmouth Class of 2010 from Mercer Island, Wash. and a co-manager for the 2010 tour. “We hope to connect with young and old alike to come up with small, easy ways that we can conserve money, energy, and resources in everyday lives.”

Over the past five summers, Dartmouth students have traveled more than 56,000 miles and used about 6,500 gallons of waste vegetable oil in place of diesel fuel, all in the spirit of reaching a wide audience with a variety of environmental messages. Equipped with a modified engine, solar panels, an interior completely constructed of sustainable materials, and a host of other green technologies, the bus is a combination of a mobile science fair and a place for discussion and debate.

This year, the students aim to augment their summer tour with a year-long online presence and try out new educational tools. With help from Dartmouth’s Department of Computer Sciences, the 2010 Big Green Bus crew has created interactive touch screen programs so visitors can explore options for sustainability within their own lives. The students will combine their new displays with examples of sustainable living and live demonstrations to engage their audiences in discussion at more than 40 educational stops planned across the country.

“We want people to realize that these are not abstract ideas over which they have no control,” says Brandon Cohen, a member of the Class of 2011 from Cherry Hill, N.J., and a co-manager for the 2010 tour. “Our main goal is to empower the individual to make responsible choices about their consumption and politics.”

The crew will focus educational efforts on four key areas that have meaningful impact:

  • Household: Use energy only when needed by installing a programmable thermostat, turning off unused lights and appliances, and considering other inefficiencies in your home. Investigate the efficiency standards of your appliances and consider if you are ready to upgrade to higher efficiency products.
  • Transportation: Walk or bike, or take public transit (if available); if buying a new car, explore the options for a hybrid or one with a high MPG.
  • Lifestyle Choices: Consider the environmental consequences of the foods you eat, particularly red meat. Reduce excess of unused goods, such as unwanted catalog subscriptions.
  • Environmental Policy: Learn about the current debate regarding energy and climate policy in the U.S. Research federal and state incentive programs available to you. Know the platforms of your government representatives and vote accordingly.
“I’m excited to be a part of a project that’s spreading the word about environmentally responsible lifestyle changes that we can all make. It’s easy, it’s cost-effective, and it’s critically important, that’s the message we will be spreading this summer,” says Ben Paly, a member of the Dartmouth Class of 2011 from Marblehead, Mass.

Featured in previous years on Good Morning America, MTV, CNN, Newsweek, NPR, USA Today, and numerous local newspapers, the students on the Big Green Bus consistently advocate for sustainable lifestyles.





Students prepare the Big Green Bus for its 6th-annual cross country trek. (photo by Betsy Dain-Owens ’10)

Esop Baek ’13Hometown: Long Island, N.Y. Major: Biological Sciences

Andrew Ching ’10Hometown: Calgary, Canada Major: Sociology and Environmental Studies

Brandon Cohen ’11Hometown: Cherry Hill, N.J. Major: Engineering modified with Environmental Science

Robert Collier ’13Hometown: Etna, N.H. Major: Engineering

Betsy Dain-Owens ’10Hometown: Mercer Island, Wash. Major: Engineering and Environmental Sciences

Ann Elise DeBelina ’10Hometown: Palatine, Ill. Major: Engineering modified Environmental Science

Olivia Kent ’13Hometown: Key West, Fla. Major: Undecided

Emily Mason-Osann ’11Hometown: Gorham, Maine Major: Engineering

Becky Niemiec ’13Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif. Major: Environmental Science

Ben Paly ’11Hometown: Marblehead, Mass. Major: Environmental Studies

David Peterson ’10Hometown: Delmar, N.Y. Major: Government and History

Emily Pizzichemi ’10Hometown: Scranton, Penn. Major: Biology, with a concentration in Ecology and Evolution

Susan Knapp