Fuel up with vegetable oil and learn to power vehicles in a new sustainable business-model way. Sound too good to be true? Not when it starts with a 1984 Van Hool Tour Coach that’s renovated with sustainable materials and then filled with veggie oil. We recently had the opportunity to ask Zak Zaidman, co-founder of Kopali Organics and the Conscious Goods Alliance (CGA), a few questions about their eco-friendly bus that’s a mobile ecological showroom. Join us as we talk to Zak and learn more about what happened behind the scenes of the CGA cross-country veggie oil powered tour:
- What reasons went into your decision to launch the Eco Bus tours?
We at Kopali Organics developed our sustainable, eco showcase bus to run on vegetable oil, and realized that it generated tremendous excitement. A formal tour seemed like a natural development once we started visiting Whole Foods Markets to promote our purely delicious, naturally nourishing, organic, fair trade snacks. We chose to include other like-minded companies, and officially began the Conscious Goods Alliance. We began visiting schools, festivals, tradeshows, farmers markets, and more, as well as the shopping locations where people chose to buy organic, sustainable products every day. The bus tour is a great way to travel in line with our values, and to reach a wide audience in regard to alternative fuel and energy, sustainability, and organic food. It helps us share the message that we "vote" each day with our dollars, with each product we buy, in terms of what practices and values we support … and that we have the opportunity to vote wisely and make a difference.
- Did you collect and filter oil on-the-road for your fuel?
One of the nice things about running on recycled veggie oil in a bus, is that there is enough room to filter as you drive. We stop at various restaurants, (sushi and Chinese having the best oil for these purposes), and, of course the prepared food section of Whole Foods Market always saves their used oil for us.
- How many gallons of oil did the bus use on the tours?
The bus gets about 11 miles to the gallon so just on one tour from San Francisco to New York to Miami and back to Los Angeles, we drove approximately 8000 miles and burned about 725 gallons of veggie. This is our third cross-country tour so we have logged thousands of hours and thousands of miles. On that initial tour we spent about $80.00 on diesel fuel to go 8000 miles and that was when gas was $2.00 a gallon.
- Do you have any tips or recommendations for other business owners who would be considering using vegetable oil for a fleet or business vehicle?
Have a secure supply of relatively clean oil available. We feel the fast food restaurant oils are as bad for your engine as they are for your body. Make sure a reliable, knowledgeable "veggie mechanic” installs your system and use top-grade equipment. The conversion is not that expensive.
- What has the public's response been overall to the Eco Bus Tour?
Overwhelmingly positive. In many cases life changing. Imagine six young "eco-missionaries" riding around the country on a completely sustainable bus on recycled vegetable oil, representing 15 companies committed to Triple Bottom Line Business and Conscious Capitalism. It is a new paradigm. So much positive energy emanates from these young people and the message they are bringing forth.
- Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Kopali Organics, the founders of the "Veggie Bus" and the Conscious Goods Alliance along with their great partners are trying to change the face of business. A kinder, more gentle and compassionate business model looking to support Fair Trade and small farmers and bring products that are good for you, good for farmers and good for earth.
For additional information about the CGA bus tour, including photos, videos and blogs from the road, check out the Conscious Goods Alliance website.