Is there anything worse when you are out enjoying nature than having the very society you are trying to get away from thrust back upon you? If so, maybe you can do something about it. Escape Adventures specializes in vacation tours "with destinations like Moab's Arches and Canyonlands, the Escalante Grand Staircase, Zion National Park" and Red Rock Canyon. Beautiful locations all, and worthy of not being encroached upon by urban sprawl. Heather and Jared Fisher, proprietors of Escape Adventures, were able to help make Red Rock Canyon a nicer place for cyclists, by organizing a campaign "to successfully restrict commercial truck traffic though the 197,000-acre wilderness, and [by adding] an 8 foot wide bike lane that runs the length of Rock Canyon scenic byway."
The duo have also managed to start the world's first first carbon-neutral vacation provider. They have done so using solar power, diesel vehicles running vegetable oil and carbon offsetting. Read the whole story via a press release after the break.
[Source: Escape Adventures via Cannondale]
• 80% of Escape Adventures multi-day support vehicles run on recycled vegetable oil.
• Used veggie oil is procured from local area restaurants, filtered, and then stored for use in the veggie tanks.
• E.A. Veggie Vans hold 110 gallons of vegetable oil, fueling them for up to 1500 miles- enough to cover 1-2 weeks of tours.
• E.A. spends approximately $2,000 to convert each vehicle to run on vegetable oil.
• Escape Adventure's Moab Tour Center and Moab Cyclery Shop runs entirely on solar power generated by roof-top solar panels
• The Moab solar panels generate 8.1 kilowatts of electricity at peak production.
• E.A. paid $73,000 to purchase and install solar panels in Moab.
• It took 10 months to take the Moab Solar Power project from conception to completion.
• E.A.'s Las Vegas Bike Warehouse is currently in the process of converting to solar power.
Sustainability Program Overview
At Escape Adventures, we want to make the world a better place, and we believe in leading by example. We run our tours the same way we run our company, with an eye on the triple bottom line: People, Profit & Planet. This means we treat our customers, our community, and our planet with respect, and let our business grow organically. We have always run a value-based and mission-driven company, and in 2006, this commitment led us to become the world's first carbon-neutral outfitter.
Moving Beyond Offsetting: How We Became the World's First Carbon-Neutral Outfitter
To be carbon-neutral, your net contribution of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere must be zero. The easy way to reach net-zero carbon emissions is with offsetting. To offset harmful byproducts of convention energy use, you donate money to sponsor energy conservation and clean energy projects. Green tags were invented as an easy way for individuals and companies to help sponsor worthy carbon reduction projects; they are a kind of gift certificate for carbon reduction. Offsetting with green tags is quick and easy; you don't have to change the way you live and you can feel good about what you're doing.
But at Escape Adventures, we decided this simply wasn't enough. We elected to pursue a more comprehensive approach to actually reduce our carbon footprint, rather than just offset it. We overhauled our entire operation -- from our vehicles, to our buildings, to our procedures -- to become an outdoor industry leader in the charge to help our planet.
Solar Powered Facilities
Our Moab, UT tour center generates 100% of the energy it uses from roof-mounted solar power panels. This means that every e-mail, light, power tool usage, hot shower, and just about any other energy usage, comes from the sun. As a result, not a pound of carbon dioxide is released into the air. Our Las Vegas bike warehouse is also converting to solar power.
We're excited about our cutting-edge solar technology, and we've found that our new solar panels draw interest from visitors and locals alike. Those who choose to use solar power often need to make adjustments to when and how they use electricity, so they can live within the limitations of the system's design. However, we custom-designed our system to match the needs of our operations; solar doesn't need to mean going without. Powering up with direct energy has helped us become more aware of our energy usage, leading to a cleaner, more efficient operation.
Vegetable-Oil Fueled Support Vehicles
For more than a decade, we have been designing our custom fleet of 4x4 trucks, vans, and trailers with rack systems made exclusively for backcountry adventure touring. Now our support vehicles not only meet every tour need, they do so without making an negative environmental impact! We are the first tour outfitter in the world to use support vehicles powered by vegetable oil. So far we've converted over half of our fleet to waste vegetable oil.
By using alternative fuel support vehicles, Escape Adventures
has reduced our annual contribution of three main greenhouse gasses:
Carbon Dioxide and Monoxide -75% reduction = 18.7 metric tons (38,051 pounds)
Sulfur Oxides -a component of acid rain- 100% reduction = 20.1 metric tons (40,023 pounds)
Nitrogen Oxides -a component of acid rain - 40% reduction
Converting our vehicles' diesel engines to run on vegetable oil not only drastically reduces emissions; it also allows us to utilize a natural, renewable resource. And rather than using new vegetable oil, we collect used oil from local restaurants, converting what would have been landfill waste into fuel.
Supporting Value-Based Businesses
When shopping for the raw ingredients that make up many of your meals on tour, we turn to local farmers and growers first. We realize that Escape Adventures' cuisine is a big reason our guests return to tour with us again and again. We know that it's important to look beyond the cheapest price to find the best value. Sure, we pay more to buy from organic farms and support local small businesses, but in return for this investment we get quality products and the satisfaction of knowing that we are supporting sustainable growers.
Escape Adventures tours have the healthiest, most satisfying meals in the industry because we are committed to providing our guests with healthy and environmentally sustainable meals. This includes purchasing wild or free-range meat and fish, buying certified organic produce, grains and dairy, and scouring product labels for snacks and sundries that are free of partially hydrogenated oils and other unnecessary ingredients. Each tour season, we receive an abundance of tour evaluations praising our menu and food preparation, thanks to our talented guide-chefs who are able to transform our commitment to the natural food industry into rewarding outdoor meals.
Reducing Waste and Recycling
We have found that waste reduction and recycling has been the fastest and easiest way to minimize our impact on the environment. Taking steps to ensure that the majority of the waste produced in our shops, warehouses, and on our tours is recycled has been an interesting and educational process:
:: We recycle all bicycle rubber from our guests' personal bicycles, as well as our rental bikes. Finding a recycler to process our rubber waste wasn't easy, but we wanted to ensure our landfills are not littered with something that is so easily reused.
:: We have developed specific recycling and compost containers for use on our multi-day tours, and have researched recycling programs in each of our tour locations. We recycle more than 90% of the waste generated on each tour.
:: In addition to recycling on tours, we have installed recycling bins for paper, aluminum, plastic, glass, cardboard and rubber at each of our tour centers. With limited recycling opportunities in Moab and Las Vegas, our bins have become a valued community resource.
:: We buy as much recycled product as possible for our offices and tours and we ask our suppliers to use recyclable products whenever possible.
:: We encourage our employees to bike commute by offering a $5 per day ride to work bonus.
:: We never use disposable bags to transport food or drinks for your tour. Instead all of the items go directly into reusable coolers and crates.
:: We buy minimally packaged goods whenever possible, and encourage our employees to avoid items with excessive packaging for their personal purchases as well.
While we have been able to drastically reduce waste, we are not able to eliminate every bit of waste from our operations. We purchase green tags to cover the remaining 10% of waste from tour, as well as any additional carbon activities, such as our guides' air travel.
We are an active member of the sustainable community. We are involved in our local communities, and work with non-profit, government, and business leaders to minimize negative impacts and maximize awareness.
In addition to our own efforts, we join with many other groups and individuals working to make a difference, including:
Escape Adventures offers sustainable mountain biking, road cycling, and multi-sport tours throughout North America, and beyond.