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Carbon Free Car Show

Article & Photo From the Crested Butte Weekly, 6/12/08
Crested Butte Weekly

Gunnison Car Show to be Nation’s 1st Carbon Free

330 cars, 3 days of activities, 2 live bands, every motel room booked and 81 tons of carbon pumped into the atmosphere. What was it? It was last year’s Gunnison Car Show. And it’s not about to be that harmful to the environment ever again. According to Club President Mike Callihan this year’s show will be carbon free, the first one in the nation.

“The Gunnison Car Show is one of the local economy’s biggest events, so canceling it was never an option. However, we have a duty to eliminate the harm the car show does to the environment. That’s why over this past winter the car club members made the commitment to become one of the first – if not the first – car show in the country to offset the carbon our event creates,” said Callihan. The Club began by looking at the show itself. What they found was a string of jaw-dropping impacts:

The 330 cars that typically attend drive a combined total of 99,000 miles getting here and returning home. Each of these cars is estimated to average 14 mpg. As a result, an estimated 7,071 gallons of fuel are consumed by the cars, generating over 63 tons of carbon, mostly carbon in the form of carbon dioxide.

Even more carbon is generated by restaurants and motels serving the car show crowd. These impacts include preparing well over a thousand restaurant meals, cleaning and doing the laundry in hundreds of motel rooms, generating the electricity for 2 bands, as well as much more. All of this adds up to a total carbon impact of nearly 81 tons.

Callihan and the Car Club worked with data from MIT and the University of Washington, as well as with the staff of, to quantify the event’s impact. Then the club purchased approximately $500 of carbon-offset credits from, the country’s leading carbon reduction and offset organization. The Club’s donation will be used by to plant enough trees to offset the carbon from the car show.

Carbon offsets enable individuals and businesses to reduce carbon dioxide emissions they are responsible for in their everyday lives by investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects where they are most cost effective. works with over 300 corporate and non-profit partners including Discovery, Volkswagen, Dell, Orbitz, Environmental Defense, and Lancome.

“ makes it easy and affordable for individuals, businesses and organizations to reduce their climate impact,” says Mike. He added that the Car Club is also focusing on reducing the solid waste generated at the car show events. “We will be requiring our food vendors, for example, to recycle, use compostable paper products and give us a written plan on how each of them will reduce their solid waste impact,” Callihan said. All of this is geared to having a waste-free event within 3 years.

Any group can do what the Car Club is doing. In fact, the club is anxious to share what it’s learned: “Being first isn’t as important as being involved”, said Mike. “Eliminate what you can, and offset the rest. That’s something we can all live with.” Groups and clubs interested in learning how to make their events carbon-free can contact Mike Callihan at 596-6238. The 2008 Gunnison Car Show will be held on August 22, 23, & 24th. The Sunday cruise to Crested Butte will be on the 24th.


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