Driving in and of itself is at the heart of vanlife. And anyone who’s keen on travelling in an eco-friendly manner will already be in the know about the idea of staying longer at each destination.
But there is actually more you could add to the equation. Fuel-efficient driving is taught during driving lessons but often forgotten. However, it still rings true:
tyres inflated to the correct pressure
smooth driving (avoiding stop-and-go-driving)
avoiding roof boxes and unnecessary heavy or extra load
reducing the use of AC
enhancing the engine efficiency by aiming at longer trips
all of it helps your fuel economy and thus, makes your footprint lighter.
Gaining as much knowledge as possible about your route and destination in advance can also help you pack lighter, avoid traffic jams, and just generally get the most kilometres out of each tankful of fuel.
Take your bathroom with you
With the advent of lighter, smaller and non-chemically operated dry toilets, going to the loo whilst on a camping trip has become a convenient and no-fuss as well as an earth-friendly activity. Also: independence from camping sites and motorway services’ toilets is huge with this one.
The so-called dry or source separation toilets collect human waste in dedicated containers (which dramatically reduces any smells). The separation also allows for really easy emptying and maintenance. And since UK-founded, now Leipzig-based Kildwick have introduced the MicroLoo toilet, even the smallest vans like the Volkswagen California can sport a sustainable composting toilet. Besides: for those new to the very idea, Kildwick offers a „weekend trip“ model, HappyLoo. Made of solid cardboard, it only needs a tiny space and is ideal for just a 1-2 day fishing or camping trip.
Low and zero waste strategy
Waste is critical when on a camping trip. First, it rather doesn’t contribute to a great atmosphere in the van. Second, you need to find collecting points, and this search can sometimes get discouraging, depending on your location.
And so, avoiding waste is the best strategy. Try staying away from any single-use plastic packaging whenever you can. They might seem lightweight, but those pre-packaged service station salads and sandwiches make for an unhandy heap of rubbish after lunch.
Another good idea is to avoid as many single-use items as you can. Try wax wraps, no-filter coffee makers, stainless-steel straws, washable towels and sponges and so on.
Multi-use solids and powders for skincare
Thanks to the progress sustainable cosmetics are making, nowadays, we have a plethora of choices when it comes to cleaner, bio-degradable and organic options. Also, many products get formulated with tiny and minimalist living in mind: multi-use is key.
The dry, read: waterless, textures of those bars and powders are all the rage, save a lot of space, require less (plastic) packaging and can’t spill while you’re driving. They are also generally more economical. Not sure where to start?
Check out dry toothbrush cubes by Lamazuna, shower and shampoo kubes by Beauty Kubes, cream deodorants by Fine, or Plaine’s versatile shower-shampoo-and-shaving powder.
Laundry and dishwashing, the green way
Pretty much summing up the zero waste idea and the versatility of many sustainable skincare products, there is a slew of brand-new companies offering clever cleaning products.
You might want to try EcoRoots low-waste washing block, Dropps laundry detergent pods, Ethique solid laundry bars or the nearly weightless Well Earth Goods Laundry Detergent Strips. Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap isn’t waterless, but it is extremely versatile for use as shampoo, soap, detergent, dish soap and then some more.
Besides, if you’re worried about shedding microplastics from your functional wear (synthetic fibres shed during washing), then wash bags by Guppyfriend will add a seriously eco-friendly twist to the laundry. It literally „traps“ the shed microfibres from entering the waterways – if used correctly. Well worth a try!
Editor - Alan Rogers Guides
Rob has been involved in the leisure industry since completing a BTEC in Travel & Tourism in 1993. Previous roles have included the promotion of tourism in Yorkshire and running a motorcycle touring company in the Australian Outback.
He is the General Manager at Alan Rogers Travel Group, responsible for the ongoing development of the Alan Rogers website and the publication of the Alan Rogers Guides and 'Destinations' magazine.
He regularly travels with his wife and young daughter in their Dethleffs 'Campy' caravan. A keen cycling fan, Rob can often be found in a field in Belgium during the 'Spring Classics' season or riding his Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycle.