You can’t turn on an incandescent light, you can only generate one shoe box of trash a month, and you have to live out of a car for a year. Those are the rules of Your Environmental Road Trip’s (YERT) great American green voyage, an exploration of the nation’s environmental movement by a three-person crew in a hybrid Ford Escape.
The “YERTians” started their trip on July 4th and will keep moving until July 4th of 2008. So far, they’ve logged over 13,000 miles visiting the greenest initiatives they can find in twenty states, from wind farms in Massachusetts to green roofs in Illinois to desalination projects in California.
As it travels, the YERT team is creating a sort of census of the layman’s environmental sentiment. They’ve shot over 100 hours of video footage and have posted pages of blogs recording their every interaction. Sure, it’s easy to find green businesses in Burlington, Vt., and Portland, Ore., but understanding what is going on away from the liberal cosmopolitan centers reveals a more thorough understanding of the greening of an economy. A bit like a green de Tocquevilles, or perhaps a video-enhanced “Environmentalism in America.”
“Our history as a species is to bump and steer,” YERTian Ben Evans said of global warming when Earth2Tech met up with them in San Francisco. “Except here every bump will mean chaos for millions of people.” While they might highlight the best of what America is doing to become more sustainable, they also see, first-hand, what’s preventing us from embracing greener lifestyles. “We met a woman in Rochester who had never heard the term ‘global warming,'” Julie Dingman-Evans, YERTian and wife of Ben, recounted.
The project’s founder, Mark Dixon, was trained by Al Gore to be one of his “Inconvenient Truth” presenters, and has put off grad school for now to travel the country. The project has solidified his belief that change through proper business management is a viable and essential path to sustainability. The self-proclaimed “least hippy” of the group, Dixon hopes to attend business school and eventually move into cleantech.
YERT expects to have some 400 hours of video footage by next July, which they’ve talked about turning into a film or a even a TV series. The team came across as a likable, articulate group — Ben and Julie Evans are both professional actors and Dixon’s passion for his project is pure earnest sincerity. Happy green travels.