Green is the New [Vendetta] Red; Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2019 By Jennie Stallings aka Team Chef
Once a year, I pack a bag of Vendetta Racing shirts, shake out my “Team Chef” apron, stock my desert kitchen, and prepare to feed and water our team of mad bikers, mechanics, and crew. I am one of a few team women behind the racers. We wear many hats, not just wife, mum, or caterer. In reality, we play the roles of psychologist, cheer squad, nurse, dietitian, and even Eco-warriors!
During and after the race I usually take to social media to chat about how the riders faired that day, the goings on in the bivouac and of course what I created in my bus kitchen. Quite honestly, I was too busy or knackered to post my daily wrap ups this year. So, I’m doing a post season write up to tell you about something we did this year that had a little impact on the world around us, by pushing our goal of using as little plastic as possible. A tough challenge, but the week was full of them.
All race teams are provided water by the organisers who are fortunate to have a local water sponsor. Fantastic, but sadly the water is provided in eight-pack, plastic covered cases of 500ml plastic bottles. Our team goes through a LOT of water. Between tea and coffee drinkers, water and hydration fluids for the riders, and food prep, we go through quite a few litres a day. And that is just safe drinking water. We also have potable water for washing up, etc.
So yes, we get free water, but free to us is most definitely not free to the environment. So, this year I implemented the reusable bottle rule. I’ve done it for years for coffee and tea cups because I would not supply Styrofoam cups. Why did it take me this long to come up with this?
No, it was not free to us, but it cost very little. We purchased a water cooler second hand for AED75, a rechargeable water pump for AED25, and spent AED125 for eight 20 litre reusable water bottles. The water cooler stayed outside with our rather extensive collection of reusable bottles, and the pump and a bottle were in the kitchen for all the cooking needs. Our cost, AED220 for a team of thirteen people or just under AED17 per person. The savings, more than 5kg of plastic waste over a six-day period!
Imagine if the over 800 participants, crew, organisers, medics, sweep teams, and marshals were to follow suit? So, the goal for next year? Convince the water sponsor to supply coolers and 20 litre reusable bottles for the entire bivouac, all marshal posts, start, finish, and refuel stations. They could even supply branded reusable bottles for all participants. What better way for them to promote their sustainability beliefs?
Taking us forward to the 2020 race, we are pushing to go carbon neutral! Certainly, we will continue with our no plastic waste endeavour, but amp it up by using only biodegradable cutlery and plates which we were only partly able to do this year. But the biggie…the bus, box trailer, and even the team workshop will be powered by solar panels!
Don’t worry, all the team favourite meals were made, served, and thoroughly enjoyed with all the appropriate yummy noises. Until next year my fellow petrol head, food loving, eco warriors!