Manly resident, Roland Davies is the founder of the beach clean-up not-for-profit, Emu Parade, but his sidekick, Trish, is the real star.
“Trish is an almost 30-year-old ex-fire truck that runs on vegetable oil,” says Roland.
A barista by trade, Roland is self-taught, through YouTube and trial and error, in vegetable oil conversion – how to run a diesel engine on vegetable oil.
“I wanted a vehicle that could run on an alternative to fossil fuels and an electric car was beyond my budget but also wouldn’t suit the needs for Emu Parade,” he explains.
In exchange for cleaning up the beaches, Roland provides a free cup of café-quality coffee from the professional espresso setup in the back of Trish. While the Northern Beaches is their home, Roland and Trish often travel to remote locations of Australia.
“Some of the worst pollution that I saw in the most remote areas of Australia provoked the idea of Emu Parade,” Roland says.
“So, Trish is a vehicle that does everything. She caters to metropolitan clean ups with the coffee machinery onboard, but can also serve as my temporary home for a few weeks on remote beaches with enough supplies and the ability to haul rubbish.”
So, why vegetable oil?
Roland informs Manly Observer that vegetable oil, or used deep fryer oil, is a waste product of any venue that sells fried food – think hot chips or chico rolls. And it’s a liquid waste they are desperate to get rid of.
“For food venues, used vegetable oil is expensive and messy to dispose of, and really a wasted opportunity,” he adds.
“There is so much of it around and represents an untapped energy source.”
And this is how Roland hooks you into a conversation on environmental issues. Trish and his expertly made coffees are positive diversions, or as Roland likes to call it – 3D clickbait.
Trish and his expertly made coffees are positive diversions, or as Roland likes to call it – 3D clickbait.
“Although my passion is environmental and climate change messages, I understand they aren’t everyone’s. So, a cup of coffee and wanting to learn more about Trish is a positive way to invite people into the conversation,” he says.
Roland’s main objective is to adjust people’s thinking around environmental issues.
“There seems to be this perception that to care about the planet, you have to live a prohibitive life and stop doing all these fun things because they have a negative footprint attached to them,” he explains to Manly Observer.
“I want to change that. You can have, not just a good life, but a bloody awesome one while putting the environment first and Trish helps get that message across.”
Save the Southern Sea
With Trish, Roland is travelling along Australia’s east coast to help promote Surfrider Foundation’s documentary, Southern Blast. Instead of exchanging coffee for rubbish, he is handing out Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for a petition signature.
“What I really like about their campaign and their approach is they share my philosophy that there is too much negativity around the climate and sustainability space,” Roland says.
“The Southern Sea is under threat, but there is still plenty we can do about it, and it doesn’t have to be a huge cost to the way we are living, either. For an ice-cream, you can engage in a conversation.”
Roland adds he is yet to meet a single person who doesn’t think we need to campaign against fossil fuel exploration.
“Most people don’t even know we have a Great Southern Reef that has more biodiversity than the Great Barrier Reef. They don’t even know that seismic testing goes on in Australian waters or the huge damage it does for the area, it’s surrounds and the protected marine life,” he says.
Sydney is the tours eighth stop with Southern Blast being screened on 14 November at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, Cremorne.
For Roland, like most Northern Beaches residents, his whole life revolves around the ocean.
“The ocean doesn’t have boundaries or borders and we know that oil spills and gas leaks go far further than the zone they are exploring for fossil fuels,” he says.
“I think it’s in everyone’s interest to keep our ocean safe and protected.”