Many van lifers are also nature enthusiasts- using their vans to see the world around them from valleys to mountain tops, the van life can take you there, but it is important to maintain these environments and keep them clean and safe so van dwellers for generations to come can see the same sights. Below are some friendly tips, life hacks, and products that can help you ensure your van and your specific travels are as earth friendly as possible!
Reuse Glass Jars:
This sounds simple, and it is, but it’s also very effective! Reusing glass jars are not only environmentally friendly but economical by allowing you to save money by avoiding the need to purchase plastic wrap, Tupperware, and single use plastics. Reusing glass jars allows for sustainable storage, and by reusing glass rather than recycling, energy is saved from the recycling process.
While this tip applies to everyone not just van lifers, it is easy to fall into the routine of buying products covered in plastic and grabbing a coffee without thinking about the plastic cup it comes in.
There are many alternatives that are small in size that can allow for single-use plastic reduction. Stainless steel straws are a great straw alternative if you like to drink from a straw and steel portable coffee cups are great for coffee on the go! Silicone reusable bags are great alternatives for plastic bags, whether you are packing for a hike or storing in the fridge these bags will do the job with far less waste. Another great alternative is a reusable water bottle– preferably steel or aluminum. We love Klean Kanteen bottles that are 100% plastic free and are 100% carbon neutral throughout the manufacture and delivery process of their products.
How does one compost when they do not have a yard to dedicate space to your food scraps?
Is it it possible to compost on the go and maintain a clean van?
YES! (with a little effort!)
While you cannot keep your compost to feed your plants or start a garden, composting is doable when living the van life. There are many options for indoor (or van!) composting containers, designed to be small and contain the odor that is the largest concern for most vanners. The next step requires some research about the communities you are visiting- cities across the country have municipal composting programs or other private composting companies- get in contact with these groups to find out more about dropping off your compost!
One of the greatest advantages of vanlife is being able to see and get involved with communities all over the globe as your house moves from place to place. Aside from getting involved with the van community that you may meet while parked/ camping, make sure you shop at local shops and restaurants. This will not only allow you to get a better sense of the community’s culture but will help support their economy as well. This act also reduces the ecological toll of transportation of products, by buying locally made products or locally grown food you save all of the emissions that those products would have caused had they been produced somewhere else. If possible try and shop second hand, from vintage clothes to collectable items you can find very interesting things when shopping second hand! The best way to reduce waste is to buy clothes and products second hand essentially giving them a second life and keeping them out of a landfill.
When traveling long distances or living in your van full time you likely have a water tank and dump water around the areas you stay. Whether this be from cooking or showering- this water is carrying particles with it into the earth. A great way to ensure you are reducing your footprint on the places you stay is to invest in biodegradable soap. In a house we don’t think about the water going down the drain as it goes into a sewage plant to be cleaned, but when in a van, you likely dump your dirty water directly into the ground causing soap to go with it. By using earth friendly soaps you can feel good after showering both physically and environmentally.
Over the past 10-15 years solar power tech has drastically improved- solar panels today capture more energy and can be purchased at cheaper prices than ever before. Solar power for the van is a great alternative to relying on other energy sources. Solar power is renewable and doesn’t cause any pollution making it an earth friendly way to power your van accessories. It also offers van dwellers the option to chart unknown territory with no fear of running out of power or needing to find a place to charge up because solar power can be found almost anywhere!
With these tips and products you can feel confident you’re getting the most out of your van without causing excessive waste or harm to the environment. With climate change fast approaching it is vital we together make an effort to leave the earth better then we found it so those who chose then van life after us can enjoy the nature and landmarks we are eager to see ourselves.