Sometimes, I dream of giving everything up to go live in a van and roam the wilderness. And according to Reef Pearson, writer of this guest blog, van life can actually be a sustainable option! He advises us how to be eco-friendly whether living in a van full-time or just for holiday adventures.
When you think about environmentally-friendly transportation, buses, bicycles, and walking are what spring to mind, certainly not vans. But when you actually live in that van, it becomes a whole lot more of a sustainable option. Not only is this off-grid style of living friendly to the environment, but after the guilt of overconsumption habits in the modern world, the lifestyle change can be a very emotionally rewarding experience that is great for your mental wellbeing.
At the end of the day, it’s the owner of the van that has the power to make their lifestyle as eco-friendly as it has the potential to be, so here are a few tips and tricks to illustrate how off-grid van life can be a really wonderful, eco-friendly way to live if you do it right.
Take Advantage of Solar Power
It is no surprise that one of the best ways to make your van life more sustainable is to get your energy from the sun. If you buy a rechargeable battery that can be connected to solar panels then you’d be surprised how much power you can get for your van just because the sun is out.
Plus, it is an effortlessly better way of getting electricity than trying to find a charging point or outlet. And since the off-grid lifestyle is getting so popular, there are plenty of stylish and space-saving mobile solar units with outlets built-in which are a simpler way of getting the benefits of solar energy without having to install panels on your van.
Leave Everywhere As You Found It (Unless You Shouldn’t)
As with every adventure into nature (or cities, all the same), you should leave the place exactly as you found it without a trace of your stopover. This might seem like a simple thing to do, but for people that don’t want to take their rubbish in the small space of their van, it can be sadly quite common. Because of this, you need to go one step beyond picking up your own rubbish where possible.
If you’re somewhere remote and find some discarded litter, or an old tent, for example, anything that doesn’t belong to nature, then if you have the ability, you should make an effort to clean that up too or alert a local ranger of the rubbish for them to collect. You can’t tidy up after everyone else’s mess, but if you can do a couple of small good deeds on your journey they make a world of good.
Choose Long Stays
As you would expect, the ‘environmental elephant in the room’ is that most vans run on fossil fuels, and for van dwellers, you’re sure to rack up a lot of miles. However, for those living in a van long-term, the best thing you can do is keep your stays in one location long, and your distance between stops short.
This doesn’t necessarily mean to park up and not move for weeks on end, but just having a bit more consciousness as to where you stay over and opting to navigate the local area by foot rather than a van goes a very long way.
Use Earth-Friendly Toiletries
Washing up is a daily essential (whether that be our body or the dishes), and for the sake of the wildlife affected when you do a bit of wild washing on the road you should choose to opt for organic toiletries and washing-up liquid with minimal packaging. Often the water used for washing ends up soaked into the soil near your van, especially if you’re somewhere remote, which is why selecting organic harm-free products is so important.
You want to make sure that if any creatures or flowers want to live in the soil after you’ve washed there then they’ll be safe to do so. On top of this, there are now plenty of options to avoid single-use items, from reusable face scrubbies instead of cotton pads to menstrual cups and shampoo bars, so the products are readily available and you have no excuses!
Make Smart Choices and Recycle
Staying away from disposable packaging can be tricky on the road, especially when there’s a lot of service station stops involved it can be hard to avoid plastic-wrapped meal deals and drinks. In every case possible you should try your best to avoid single-use plastic, and if you must use it then holding out for a recycle point rather than a regular bin is essential.
Like with most sustainable lifestyle habits, it’s all about making smart choices and being mindful of when you might be being wasteful, then finding a better alternative. It’s the simple things like this that aren’t just wonderful for the environment but they also do wonders for our own wellbeing, there’s no serotonin release better than a good deed that costs nothing and makes the world a little better.
Written by Reef Pearson from Quality Source, experts in motorhome energy.