Image: Dim office at Jones Soda
Ted S. Warren  /  AP
The lights were dimmed at Jones Soda headquarters in Seattle on Earth Day so as to succeed in getting off the grid with just pedal power.
updated 4/23/2009 2:47:29 PM ET 2009-04-23T18:47:29

A soft drink maker took itself off the electricity grid for Earth Day, using cyclists to power lights, computers, printers and fax machines at its Seattle headquarters.

Employees and others at Jones Soda began pedaling at 5 a.m. Wednesday, taking turns on nine stationery bikes hooked up to batteries to store the energy.

"We've actively been working on improving sustainability across the entire company," said CEO-elect Joth Ricci. This was a good way to kick off an initiative to conserve electricity and reduce packaging waste, he said.

One cyclist pedaling at a comfortable pace could generate about 200 watts an hour, enough to run a medium-sized TV or a dishwasher without the heat dry.

To supplement the human-powered energy, the company also dialed back its electricity consumption. It turned off lights in the office, except lights in the restrooms, which were run by the bicycles. And employees huddled with laptops in two main rooms to take advantage of natural light from a skylight and windows.

The event brought out environmentalists, cycling enthusiasts and other curious gawkers.

Charlie Weber, 26, of Spokane, was cycling past the company's office when event volunteers flagged him down and asked him to take a spin on one of the bikes. He rode for about 20 minutes.

"It's a great way to get people aware of Earth Day," said the medical resident at Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane. "A good, healthy way to do it."

Image: People ride stationery bikes
Ted S. Warren  /  AP
Jones Soda employees and others took turns riding stationery bikes at the company's offices in Seattle, Wash., on Earth Day.

Mike Zehnder, 40, a Seattle graphic designer, read about the event online and showed up at the offices. He pedaled for about five minutes and left wondering whether he could set something similar to run his home office.

"If there's a way to do it, I'd love to do it," he said.

Dan Gross, who helped with the bike set-up, said it's relatively simple to put together. All you need is a bicycle, a used car alternator, a battery, an extension cord and an inverter.

"As far as green energy is concerned, it's pretty good," said Gross, a student physicist at University of Washington Applied Physics Lab. "It's basically a wind-turbine, but instead of wind we use humans."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Pedal power

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