In Search of Green Teams at Furnace Creek 508

In an ongoing effort to minimize the environmental footprint of our events, as well as make them safer and less obtrusive on the highways, we have initiated a "Green Team" program at Furnace Creek 508. The purpose is to encourage, recognize, and reward those 508 entrants—racer(s), vehicle, and crew combined—who make the smallest "environmental footprint" while competing in the race. This is an outgrowth of the environmental and highway safety efforts we have already had in place for many years, such as limiting each entrant (whether solo or team) to just one support vehicle, limiting the support vehicle size to no wider than 78 inches, and discouraging camper vans, supersize SUV's, and supersize pickups with large shells. Many of these environmental footprint mitigation efforts also make the race safer and improve its appearance in the eyes of the authorities and the general public, so it's a win-win-win across the board!

We'd like to hear from 508 entrants—as well as the AdventurCORPS athletes in general—as to what you think a Green Team effort at the 508 should entail. 2008 was the "demonstration year" for this program; you can read what one solo entrant did in support of that effort below on this page. Now, for 2009 and beyond, the Green Teams program is officially up and running; we hope MANY entrants will embrace it in concept and in practice.

Basically, each team that wants to participate in this effort will research and document their efforts—in support vehicle selection, in minimizing the distances flown and driven to get to and from the race, in utilizing recycled / reused materials, in supporting environmental programs like paying for trees to be planted, in educating the public through a website, blog, or other channel, and the like. Teams pursuing this effort will present their own Green Team Effort outline when they check-in for the race, then will send us an "Environmental Impact Report" about their 508 experience within 30 days of the conclusion of the race. The teams that do the most to minimize their footprint will be featured on the race website and in our email newsletter and will set the standard for future Green Team efforts at this race and probably for all AdventureCORPS events. We will also give some cool award to the team that makes the biggest effort.

Participation in this Green Team program is entirely voluntary, but we hope that many, if not most, of the 508 entrants and their support crews will embrace it.

Click here to read about our environmental efforts on the AdventureCORPS website.

Green Team suggestions from 2006 508 team / 2008 solo Matt Desert Locust Ruscigno

  • Use five-gallon water containers to refill water bottles
  • Buy locally produced fruits and veggies: minimize the transportation before it reaches you
  • Eat lower on the food chain to minimize the calories of energy required to produce the foods
  • Eating minimally processed food uses less energy
  • Use large serving sizes for any packaged food items to minimize waste
  • Set up a website where friends can log in to show that they have ridden (a total of) 508 miles locally in trips that otherwise would have been made by car in order to offset the support vehicle miles during the race (people bike commuting already don't count!).
  • Hybrid support car driven slow enough to minimize the use of the gasoline engine
  • Minimize the amount of stuff inside the vehicle without sacrificing the racer's performance (think like a bike-touring cyclist!)
  • Use mobile solar panels to charge electronics
  • Do preparation errands in the weeks leading up by bicycle. It's good training

My Green Report for 2008 Furnace Creek 508
By Adrian Supervegan Cow Stingaciu

1. Proposed: Crew vehicle is a recycled car (1992 Honda Civic VX) that racer bought used in 2004.
Actual: Done

2. Proposed: The 1992 Honda Civic VX gets 55 mpg on hwy, more than the Toyota Prius Hybrid (which gets up to 51 mph hwy)
Actual: Done

3. Proposed: Use 5 gallon water container to fill up bottles of water.
Actual: We used two 2.5-gallon water containers and later got more water (8 gallons) in Baker, store bought since tap water doesn't always go down nice with all the chlorine.

4. Proposed: Using a two-person crew (which required less food, and less driving before and after the race and makes the vehicle lighter which equals higher mpg).
Actual: Done

5. Proposed: Red earth worm composting during the race for organic matter like banana peels, apple cores, and orange peels.
Actual: Did not do. Due to space limitations, and for the sake of the worms and crew, I left this at home.

6. Proposed: Recycling all trash during the race (plastic, glass, paper)
Actual: Not very good here. We recycled most of the plastic bottles (space was an issue here since I used a very small car and couldn't keep all my trash to recycle at home). For the sake of the crew, we threw out the trash so it wouldn't smell in the car.

7. Proposed: Racer and crew eating at the bottom of the food chain (raw vegan food)
Actual: Done. Crew and racer ate 100% raw vegan food (fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, and nuts) during the race. And lots of fresh squeezed lemonade sweetened with raw organic agave nectar for the racer. I brought way more food than we needed but I think the large amount and huge variety (over 30 different kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds) helped the crew (who are not even vegetarian) stay raw vegan for 2 days.

8. Proposed: Fruits and veggies bought mostly from farmers market before the race.
Actual: I'd say about 30% of the food came from local farmer's market, about 30% was organic, and about 30% conventional.

9. Proposed: NO processed foods (mostly sun dried or fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.)
Actual: Done. Only deviation from this was 2 cups of coffee for the crew. Racer used no caffeine or stimulants outside of one raw cacao powder smoothie with raw Maca powder and raw agave nectar.

10. Proposed: Racer and crew carpooling from Orange County, CA
Actual: Done. The only hitch here is we had one of the crew members unable to take off Friday due to an unforeseen crunch at work, so he drove himself to the start and later we picked up his car after the race. This caused an extra 280 miles of driving, but since he also used an economy car (2008 Honda Civic automatic), we think we still were more fuel efficient than any other racer.

11. Proposed: Racer and crew not using hotels on Friday night (camping at Castaic Lake), or Monday (camping at Joshua Tree if needed)
Actual: Done. Slept at Castaic Lake campground Friday night and Best Western parking lot (in the car) Monday morning.

12 Proposed: Use rechargeable batteries.
Actual: Done. Crew members used rechargeable batteries for digital cameras. Racer did not use any electronics in the race.

13. Proposed: Driving less than 800 miles total including race (about 16 gallons of gas)
Actual: We actually drove more than this, since my brother had to work Friday and drove himself to the start. We drove 985 miles in my car (to get to the start and campground, the race itself, carpool back to Orange County, and retrieving my brother's car from the start). My brother drove 127.2 miles to the start from work and then back home after the race. We filled up on gas at home, in Santa Clarita, in Shoshone and then back home again. Gallons of gas used = 20.81 for my car, and 3.53 for my brother's car. My 1992 Honda Civic VX got 47.3 mpg overall. Not bad considering it was in 1st gear on the climbs at night when it was following behind me. We used leap-frog support during daylight hours. Total miles driven is 1112.2 miles. Total gas used is 24.34 gallons (way TOO much !!!)