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Quirky Answer Advice Column – Reducing Waste While on the Road

The second instalment of our advice column, as featured in the Rolling Home Journal

The question we were asked is this…

We’ve been wondering about it ever since we got on the road so here is our question for you: Besides the carbon footprint of our beloved vans, How can we reduce our waste in the environment? From peelings to soaps, we would love to learn more about a cleaner way to live the vanlife.

Cecile & Simon / @radius_ulna

And here is our response

I’m so happy someone has asked this question! This is something we all need to be thinking about wherever and however we live. But of course it becomes even more important when we are staying in beautiful natural spots. Here are our top tips, accumulated from our own time on the road and tips from our collective of owners (and most of them don’t just apply to van living!)
  • Make your own evaporative refrigerator (look up zeer pot) to prevent food waste. Alternatively use a fridge in combination with solar panels – see fridge question below
  • When cooking – create your own slow cooker using a sleeping bag or duvet! Bring your rice, pasta or stew to the boil, simmer for a few minutes then wrap up in a duvet or sleeping bag to cook. Rice or stew you can leave and it will be perfect and hot whenever you eat it (if cooking with fish or meat you will need to leave for longer on the stove). Pasta you need to check on so it doesn’t go soggy
  • Build in recycling storage to your van design so you can save it until you find somewhere to sort it
  • Buy from local markets and small shops instead of supermarkets – not only are you supporting local businesses but you will use much less packaging waste
  • Have a stash of linen bags in the van that you can use for shopping
  • Use alternative sanitary wear – mooncup, sponge or washable pads
  • Use a water bottle with built-in filter (e.g. a Berkey) rather than buying bottled water
  • Install a switch in addition to your split charge relay so you can disconnect your alternator when driving on sunny days (assuming you have solar panels)
  • Have a trowel handy to dig a compost pit (if appropriate) wherever you are parked up for all your biodegradable waste.
  • Use all natural cleaning products – my rule of thumb is to only use what I would be happy to eat. Shampoo bars are a great alternative to bottles to reduce waste, or make the switch to just washing with water
  • Travel slower, stay for longer, use less fuel
  • Travel with bikes so you can explore the nearby area and do your food shopping without having to drive your van