Odd Smell, Good Intentions - Kitchener Waterloo Record
The pair is spending four months criss-crossing North America in a converted, 15-year-old Mitsubishi Delica, trying to raise awareness about sustainable living. Their van has been rigged to run on waste vegetable oil, which they've been getting from fast-food outlets around the country.
On Monday night, they rolled into a Kitchener Wal-Mart parking lot, where a TV crew filmed them picking up eight 17-litre jugs of used, trans fat-free sunflower seed oil. The oil, donated by four local New York Fries outlets, represents about a month's worth of deep-frying, said New York Fries area general manager Carrie Motyka. But for Jerry and Whittaker, it means another two thousand or so kilometres on the road. It all counts when you're trying to break the world record for the longest trip in a vehicle that runs on waste vegetable oil.
Already 18,000 kilometres into their 45,000-kilometre journey, they planned to sleep in the back of their van in Niagara last night, before heading to the southern U.S. They're fine with getting asked the same question at every stop -- what's that smell? -- as long as their van helps change people's thinking, Jerry said. "We don't expect people to absorb it all in 30 seconds," Jerry said. "And it can be frustrating when the thing they really want to know is 'do your clothes smell like french fries, too?' " The vegetable-oil-powered van -- which cuts emission by about 90 per cent over diesel engines -- helps remind people there are alternatives to our fossil-fuel guzzling, mass consuming ways, the pair said.
"It catches people's attention when they're made to think they need gas," Whittaker said. "It really kind of shakes people . . . We hope it makes the think about the choices they make in their life."
It's a message they're taking to high schools, spreading through a blog on their website, www.driventosustain.ca, and filming in a documentary about the green-conscious people they're meeting along the way. The journey has given them hope for a changing world, even when they're surrounded by crowded highways, mall parking lots and vats of smelly oil, Whittaker said. "I know we're living in a cramped van. But we're living simply," Whittaker said. "It's a freeing way of life."