The irony of kicking off a 5000+ mile road trip with a focus on environmental education is not lost on us. We’ve printed paper zines, handed out brochures from our amazing charity partner CORE and offered up cocktails in a variety of vessels which have included plastic (biodegradable, of course). Our list of environmental sins is not small, and I know that no amount of repentance here will fix those transgressions.

But, I do know that we spent some time considering how to optimize our travel and weigh our footprint against our other options.

Francisco Paso Fino Craig Rocinante, Bar Institute Econo Van (Photo by Blake Jones

For example, we rented a van that gets pretty incredible gas mileage. The Ford Transit (2017) is the Car and Driver top ranked van for gas mileage in its class-beating out the Mercedes Benz Sprinter and Chevy Express by fairly wide margins. This choice should save us roughly 273 gallons of gas over the course of the trip, which is no small amount.  Let’s also consider the option of flying versus driving. If the 6-8 (depending on the day) of us opted to fly instead of drive, we would have not only been at the mercy of the airlines, weather and a number of other factors we could not control, but we would have also been staring down some fairly serious environmental implications too. Let’s first look at the CO2 footprint of this trip as it stands today. Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 6.45.25 PM.png

3.19 tons of CO2. That’s not a small amount. But, we’re also not traveling a short distance. Now, let’s put that up against the carbon footprint for ONE of us to fly the same distances. Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 6.38.47 PM.png

That’s 5.68 tons of CO2 for just one of us. That does not consider all 6-8 of us and our cargo. When all is said and done, we’re looking at 3.19 tons of CO2 vs. 39.76 tons of CO2. Needless to say, the van was an easy choice.

The environmental concerns were certainly at play when we were considering the logistics of this project, but it would be disingenuous to say it ended there. As we’ve mentioned (ad nauseam) this tour is inspired by The Minutemen and the exploits of DIY and indie musicians in the late 80s and early 90s. And, as you can guess, those bands traveled by van. Of course, their vans were not this nice. They were not this new, and they certainly were not vacuumed or cleaned as often as this one is (old bar habits die hard). But, they traveled in a van nonetheless.

There is something inherently American about traveling this way. There’s romance in packing all of your earthly possessions and seeing the country- connecting to the vast expanse that is America. This idea is well documented in films and song, art and literature. And, while very little of it is actually glamorous, the idea of the open road and freedom are so intrinsically linked. These ideas are hardwired into the American psyche as living the idyllic life.

Personally, I’m incredibly susceptible to this idea. I’ve spent the better part of the last decade traveling from city to city-learning what America has to offer, and I can genuinely say I am a better person for it. But, this is the first time I’ve dedicated seven whole weeks to the road, not an airport. I’m stopping in every city along the way and connecting with the communities that make up our always growing bar world. Traveling this way ensures you miss less and connect more. You see the space between. You experience the land, the economy, the climate and geography and interact in a more personal way. These places are now a part of my consciousness. And, I look forward to understanding the rest of this country in the same way.

There’s a lesson here in wastefulness and American consumerism. There’s another in pursuing freedom at the cost of the greater good. But, for now, I want to focus on the good that this travel has done for me and my team.

As we look forward to the next week (where we will be taking a closer look at mental health and wellness issues), I will keep the lessons we learned with me. Whether it’s practicing what you preach and triple checking that every drink served goes out without a straw and beverage napkin or just making sure we hold onto our hats (literally and figuratively) as we look out over a scenic overpass in Kansas, the last week will stay with me and will inform every decision I make.

I’ll leave you with this playlist of songs from the road. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy seeing all of you out here:

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