It’s safe to say that van life has skyrocketed over the last couple of years, snowballing, even more, thanks to the worldwide restrictions caused by Covid-19.
With international traveling making an extremely slow comeback and most adventurers still hesitant about traveling further afield, domestic travel has become more popular than ever – and that’s where van life (also known as van dwelling) comes into play.
All that said and done, do not let this introduction fool you into thinking that van life is an inferior form of travel compared to its counterparts. Not only does van life award you the opportunity to pick your next travel destination spontaneously, but it also awards you the ability to travel more and be on your own schedule.
All you need to note if you pick this kind of life is that it comes with ecological responsibilities, and some of those are the ones we’ll be reviewing in today’s guide.
10 Tips For Sustainable Van Life and Van Dwelling Lovers
1. Prioritize Recycling
It’s quite easy to find recycling centers while on the road (particularly compared to compost facilities.) That said, unfortunately, most of what we send to recycling facilities still ends up in landfills, and we all know that’s terrible news for the environment. This is why I always say that recycling ought to be a last resort after reusing and reducing.
2. Replace the single-use gas canisters with refillable ones
When your stove runs out of gas, as it’s destined to do, replace the gas canisters with one that’s refillable (if you haven’t already) through a connector valve and hose. If you haven’t invested in a camper yet, I suggest that you find one that doesn’t need single-use gas canisters.
Better yet, you could pick one that uses an electric hook-up. After all, natural gas is not usually produced responsibly and is also a finite resource. Electricity, on the other hand, can be produced in more sustainable manners.
Thanks to my experience of van dwelling, I’ve also learned that local councils will be more inclined to let you park overnight or stay for longer if you have an electric camper because you won’t be polluting.
3. Light it up sustainably
Even though living by daylight is not really practical, you can still make sustainable decisions when it comes to lighting up your camper van. Using solar energy, you can sustainably power LED bulbs for extended periods of time, as most of them are low energy use bulbs.
LED bulbs are also easy to replace, readily available, and will provide a wide array of options for size, color, and longevity.
Regardless of your aesthetic preferences, I suggest that you avoid traditional filament bulbs altogether. Not only are they super bad for the environment, but they also last a short period (around 5 percent of the period an LED bulb does.)
4. Opt for plastic-free water canisters
When refilling water supplies, most people on the road tend to store it in plastic containers. Most of these people do not know that these leak microplastics into the water over time, which contaminates the water and may lead to many other negative results.
With that in mind, steel is your best alternative here. Not only does it not crack, but it is also more thermo-regulatory and durable, making sure your water does not get hot when you are out and about. Not to mention it’s one of the best plastic-free alternatives.
5. Drive economically
Let’s face it. No one loves filling up with diesel (or petrol.) And not just for carbon footprint-related reasons. No! For economic reasons as well – and this is particularly true if you’ll be spending a considerable portion of your time on the road.
With that in mind, here are a few tricks to employ while driving and save both the environment and your bank account.
- Always keep your tires nicely inflated. As multiple studies have proven, even a 10 percent reduction in tire pressure can have a significant impact on your Mile per Gallon consumption.
- Be aware while braking. Instead of harshly braking, be gradual.
- Keep your engine properly tuned. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by about 4 percent. DOE adds that replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve gas mileage up to 40 percent!
The three tips I’ve shared here are nothing but the tip of the iceberg. Educate yourself on many more ways you can drive economically and sustainably.
6. Educate others
During your expeditions around the world, ensure you educate your fellow van dwellers on not only the importance of traveling sustainably but also tips and tricks they can employ to ensure they are responsible travelers.
And these tips and tricks do not need to be limited to the van life world, NO! For instance, if some of the destinations they visit cannot accommodate the van life, educate them on the importance of only booking eco-friendly and sustainable hotels.
Thanks to sites and platforms such as Triwey, finding genuinely sustainable and eco-friendly hotels (and not those just masquerading) has never been easier.
These and many more strong and immediate actions are what we need to stop (and maybe even reverse) climate change.