Leaving Green Footprints: 2016 In Review

Thankfully, despite the electrical mess and the resulting lack of a correctly a functioning alternator, Turtle and I made it to North Carolina safe and sound to visit family for the holidays. I even managed to plant the rest of the trees in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio on the way back! Big thanks to Autozone, Advanced Auto Parts and Napa for their free battery charging service. Another huge thanks to all the amazing Couchsurfing hosts that rescued me from the frozen temperatures and tool-strewn mess that my ‘bedroom’ transformed into on the route south (it’s tough when the engine is right under the bed). Matt, Laura, Aaron, KP and John—you guys rock! Couldn’t have done it without you, and excited to be able to share Green Footprint’s message with you and your hometowns.

Phew, what a year! Today I’ll be focusing on a recap of 2016 and where Green Footprints is headed next.

It’s pretty amazing to look back to where I was exactly one year ago—living in Colorado, fresh off a couple international trips and still pretty much fresh out of university. I owned two cars, rented a room in Golden, Colorado with a closet packed full of lots of my material possessions, working in a small restaurant in Boulder, and not really doing much to live up to the model of sustainability that I had worked hard to foster in college (if you’d like to know more about my background and how I got to where I am now, I encourage you to go back and read my first few blogs here). Don’t get me wrong—Colorado was (is!) awesome, and I was enjoying it—but there was this underlying feeling that I could be doing more. That January I was fortunate enough to land a new job that allowed me to work remotely, and opened the door to the possibility of a mobile, traveling lifestyle. Then on a cold, snowy day in February, I happened across a Craigslist ad for a green van over at an auto body shop down the road, and no more than 48 hours later I was the proud owner of Turtle the VW bus. And although this finicky, rickety, eccentric little camper has brought me its fair share of frustration and exasperation with its constant mechanical fussiness, it has transformed from just a vehicle into my trusty travel partner, project ‘mascot’, and true home.

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So, after a stint of traveling down through Utah and Arizona getting acquainted with the van and experiencing my first taste of the ‘road’ life, my gears started turning. I wanted to travel, but not just for the sake of traveling—I wanted to exemplify a sustainable lifestyle as much as I could to be a model for others to follow. By May I had sold my other vehicles, pared my possessions down to only the things I absolutely needed, donated the rest, and formulated the outline of an epic road trip involving lots of trees and lots of running. It took another couple of months of receiving lots of rejections from companies and organizations considering my project proposal before another fellow environmental activist, Rob Greenfield, agreed to help me get Green Footprints started. Late that August I planted my first tree in Saratoga Sprints, NY, kicking off the journey that will end with the planting of 2,500 trees and 2,500 miles running on foot in all 50 states.

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So far I’ve planted and run in twenty states: New York, Vermont, New H20160831_102717 (2)ampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. 250 Blue Spruce, 350 White Pine, 250 Red Oak and 150 White Dogwood seedlings were planted according to the ecological zone for each state. Big thanks to the Saratoga Tree Nursery and the Arbor Day Foundation for providing awesome, hearty seedlings that are now nestled in their new homes in soils across the country.

Green Footprints has caught the attention of organizations all over the world including Life Lessons Magazine, Vanlife Diaries, Gappers Around the World, and Arvores Que Encontrei. I’m also excited to announce that we’ve moved all our fundraising to one cohesive platform, so everyone can see our progress as we work towards the $2,500 to cover the cost of the trees to be planted around the country. All other costs including fuel, repairs and supplies I am covering myself, as I want to be an example of how low-impact traveling can be possible for anyone!

Next on the docket Turtle and I will be doing a big loop through Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland before heading south for the rest of the winter. I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions and suggestions as Green Footprints progresses! Please feel free to post below, and of course if you haven’t yet, make sure to donate and share the project with your friends and family! Happy New Year!

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