‘Eco-Discovery Tour’ rolls into Glenwood Springs
August 6, 2009
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – An Oregon couple wants to show locals how to sharply reduce one’s “carbon footprint” while traveling around the United States and stopping here and there to visit old friends, educate anyone interested in their story and to make new friends.
And they are hoping locals will visit the parking lot outside the Enviro Textiles shop, at 3214 Grand Ave., to check out their 1962 Airstream Flying Cloud, which will be parked there all day Thursday.
The 22-foot trailer is equipped with photovoltaic panels to power the trailer’s 12-volt electrical system, a composting toilet, low-flow water devices and other eco-friendly accouterments, all pulled by a gas-fueled Chevrolet truck that is the only non-ecological aspect of what has been named “The Flying Cloud Eco-Discovery Tour.”
John Byfield and Kate Heber, both 56, had a five-year-old business making what Byfield termed ” eco-friendly furniture” in Bend, Oregon, when the economy started to tank last year.
They sold their business, and while casting about for something different to do with their lives, hit upon the idea of remodeling an old Airstream with environmentally friendly materials and touring the country to encourage others to live a more “green” lifestyle.
With the help of a few sponsoring companies that either donated materials or gave big discounts, the two spent seven months reoutfitting the trailer and christened it “Doris Mae” in honor of Kate’s late mother.
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“Part of our journey to recycle was to keep something like this alive,” said Byfield, referring to the trailer, which now boasts U.S. grown cork floors; wall paneling made of kirei – a waste product from the sorghum plant used to make molasses – with bamboo face-frames on the cupboard doors; countertops called “marinoleum,” made from natural oils; and high-efficiency appliances that run on propane or electricity.
‘We don’t plug in, ever,” Byfield explained. “The option of living on solar is very possible in this kind of space,” meaning the tight confines of the trailer.
“In an age of McMansions, we’re living in 160 square feet,” he beamed.
Byfield said the couple uses an average of five gallons of water per day, including showers and cooking, and noted that “the average family uses hundreds of gallons.”
Starting out on July 2, they have been in several states and are planning to stay on the road for what Heber called an “indefinite” tour. Bound by no itinerary, they get suggestions about where to go next from the people they meet. Their stop at Enviro Textiles was to visit the founder of the business, Barbara Filippone, who supplied them with textiles for their business.
The trip has yielded some unexpected results, Byfield said.
For example, in Missoula, Montana, where they anticipated some hostility from the conservative locals, “We had a lot of ranchers and farmers and good ol’ boys, and they really had a blast,” examining different eco-friendly applications that they could use back on the ranch.
“People everywhere are starting to think about it,” Byfield said. “And that’s the goal of this tour, to get people thinking about it.”
To learn more about the tour, go to the website at http://www.ecodiscoverytour.com. The couple also maintains a blog that can be found through the website, detailing the stops they have made along the way.