Big Green Bus makes stop in Lowcountry

Students work to refuel the bus with waste vegetable oil in Asheville, N.C.

Environmentally Challenged: By Brian Troutman

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Thirteen students and stewards of the environment on one big green bus...

The Big Green Bus has been touring the nation this summer and this weekend will add Charleston to a list of recent stops that includes Asheville, Atlanta and Savannah.

So what is The Big Green Bus?

The Big Green Bus is what the students on board like to call a "vehicle for change." The 13 Dartmouth College students on board are the best of 170 applicants, challenged with the task of educating masses on sustainability.

With an engine set to run on waste vegetable oil and solar panels across the roof, the bus is just a means of starting the conversation.

"Basically we use the bus as a jumping off point," said recent Dartmouth graduate Joe Coleman. "We give tours of the bus, talk about products and use it to educate. It is really interesting to see what attracts people to sustainability."

Coleman said the bus has traveled about 2,500 miles thus far and only $250 has been spent on gasoline.

This is the seventh year of the program, the seventh bus and the seventh group of students hoping to raise awareness. Coleman said they are from diverse backgrounds, his being chemistry, economics and environmental studies.

"It is completely student run," he said. "We converted the bus ourselves on a $96,000 operating budget for the summer."

Coleman, 22, graduated from Dartmouth in the spring. Though he is anxious to begin his life after college with a new job in a new place, he said the opportunity to participate in The Big Green Bus program is worth putting his plans on hold.

"It's an incredible opportunity," he said. "I can't think of any better way to spend my time right now. ...We are spreading ideas across the country and bringing it back to Dartmouth after we are done."

The Big Green Bus will be at Marion Square in Charleston from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday.